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Back On The Trail

Mud season is here, then again, mud season brings Maple sugar season at the Audubon.  A favorite walking place for Papa, Me and the boys.  So many trails to choose from but when we are with the boys they always want to go to the Rockery.  Boulders stacked to create arches and a grotto setting, constructed in 1905, provide an adventurous walk along the Rockery Trail, which of course, is very exciting for little boys.  It's a beautiful walk to get to the Rockery, partly along the meadow where the birds sing and fly in and out of their bird houses.  Further along we go deeper into the woods where planks and stairs have been installed to make walking easier and to keep little feet from stepping where they shouldn't.  One of the boardwalks provides a great place for everyone to hand feed the birds.  That's always a lot of fun and really teaches the kids how to be quiet and have patience while they wait for their bird to land on their hand.  Ducks, and water birds, flowers and ferns all grow along the marsh and waters as we continue on our walk to the "big rocks"..With two little ones in tow, it takes a while to get there.  Lot of stopping and bug watching.  First though, back to this visit, our first of the season and we always start at maple sugaring time.

Back on the trail this year has much more meaning for me than in years past.  Yes, it was the first trip of the season but it was also the first time since October that I have been able to walk very far at all and one of the first times walking outside.  It was, to say the least, my first big challenge, and If not for the boys, I would not have made it all the way to the Rockery.  Oh I paid for it the next day but, honestly, it was time to give my new knee a test drive and although I was a bit shaky, I was also excited to be "free" again.

I get attached to things, very attached.  My cars have names and I frequently talk to them when driving.  I have a had time parting with books, even though I might have had them for a very long time.  I think those are the best ones.  If someone gives me a gift, I hold on to it way beyond the time that I should have let it go. So I was not surprised when I was told that I needed a total knee replacement, that I would go through a sort of crazy grieving process  when saying goodbye to my old knee.  I'm not talking about a down and out, crying jag or anything nearly like that but I did sit down one day and sort of think about where me and my knee have been and how far it has taken me in my life.  An inventory, so to speak, of our journey together over these many years.

During these last few years, when the writing was on the wall, that I would eventually need a new knee, so many of my "friends" would say, "no surprise there, you wore the damn thing out".  That used to make me so mad. Now, I guess they were right. Now, I understand that me and my knee walked,biked, swam, traveled all over the world and climbed a few mountains together.  It supported me in my effort to lose over 100 lbs over 35 years ago when I beat the hell out of it on the treadmill everyday. It gave me strength to climb mountains, swim in the lake, and to travel along woodland lanes to visit with nature. It even gave me the flexibility to run after small boys before it finally became to tired to run anymore.  It was hard to make the decision to have the surgery but like everyone says, you know when the time is right and for me, that happened last October, after my trip to Chicago..when I limped in pain the entire goodbye old knee, your really got me to a healthy life style and some very exotic places...

I won't go into the details of the surgery or recovery except to say that I'm not a great sitting in the chair, popping pain pills kind of person.  Oh at first it was o.k. because the pain won out.  Not for long though..It is not an easy process fighting back.  I have great respect for all those people who have lost limbs and fight their way back. I can't even imagine.  Everything that happens to us in life, teaches us lessons.  Spend a few months in outpatient PT, on a regular basis, and it humbles you.  I did my part there...pushed through the pain with one goal in mind...hitting the trails and treadmill again.  I still have some recovering to do, but I am able now, to put one foot in front of the other and go...wherever I want.  I won't be climbing any mountains soon, perhaps never, but I got to the top before and the race is on again.  This morning I got to two miles on the treadmill...I so missed my treadmill.  Now, I've also got myself back on the trail with my most favorite trail guides...the boys.

Yes, it is mud season but the that's o.k.  We navigated around it to the smell of the maple sap being turned into syrup.  We got to taste it right from the maple sugar shack.  Energy for the walk to the Rockery, where not only do the boys climb the rocks, feed the birds and take their own photo's..they continually turn around to make sure I'm there and to encourage me to keep going...even when I wanted desperately to sit on the rock and wait.  Without their little voices calling me and their patience in waiting for me, I am sure I would not have done the whole trial.  So, yes, we are back on the trail again and as I continue to heal I dream about where this new knee will take me and the boys...but know for sure, we are on our way.

Buckets hanging on the Maple trees.

The smoke room at the Maple Sugar Shack.


Jaxson getting his taste of fresh maple syrup.  He wanted more.

 Resting on the tree limb before we start our trail walk.

Off we go to the Rockery.


Did I mention that it was mud season...and who do you think lost his boot and kept right on going..If you could see this up close...Liam is just killing himself with the sock and back in the boot.

Liam waiting patiently for a bird to come to his hand.



Just a pretty picture along the way.

The bridge...we are almost there...

Finally, we are there and I can sit and rest...but it sure feels good to have made it.

This is what they love.  The boulders and caves. 

Back on the trail. The boys to a place that they love, every time it's different but the same. That is how nature works.  Me, just being back on the trail when there were days I wondered if it would ever happen. At the end of the day all was right with the world again.  I'm not saying that I didn't need a good rest and some ice...but since this day with the boys, I have been walking outside, by myself as often as the weather allows and the treadmill, well, it's there for me whenever I want to use it. I'm starting to bond with my new knee, I think I'll keep it...As for the boys...they surely are Keepers Also...Keepers of our adventures...

Happy Mud Season in New England...Happy Spring...

"The future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.  The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need."  Richard Louv

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Reader Comments (12)

Very interesting Cheryl.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeg Rogers

I'm glad you're on your feet and enjoying the fresh spring air. Looks like you had a wonderful time and a great set of images to prove it :-) Be well, my friend.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin

Well, I'm cracking up at the boot stuck in the mud, and the boys laughing like crazy! I'm so proud of you to have made that long trail, in spite of some discomfort, but knowing that new knee would get you there had to be exciting. What a fantastic day in the can really keep the mud though, Cheryl! Missouri has mud - its so slippery and oozy - squish between the toes kind of spin and the car goes no where! I'd say the fresh maple syrup would taste mighty good after a long fresh air hike. Pancakes would have been perfect. Happy Day!!

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

Great story. I admire you for spending so much time and doing the amount that you do with the boys! I think it is so wonderful for grandparents to be active in their lives. It creates such wonderful memories as we grow! And I'm glad you are getting up and about again.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Thomas

Thank you all for your lovely visit and comments. I look forward to visiting with you each time you come.
Beverly: mud season is just part of New England life...and it is the kind that you discribe...I stay away from it as much as possible but for some reason little kids love it...just like they love mud puddles. We do have paved roads here so not many cars get stuck..LOL The pancakes were the following week at the same place..The Audubon has lots of lovely programs for the family.
Karin: Thank you for your kind words also. Spring in New know what I'm talking about. The sun was shinning and the air was warm so what's a little mud. I stayed away from it though because the last think I needed was to get stuck. I'm coming along fine now...
Liz: See I know you get it because you also have little ones...They grow so fast that we take every opportunity to be with them. Before you know it, they will be all grown up...I can see it happening with Liam already and he's only 6...Enjoy yours also.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

Your story opens wide in the third paragraph. I can so picture you talking to your car. Not saying anything about age, but my grandma always named her cars, and talked to them. As much as it sucked, good for you to get it done. Worth it to fight your way back to exploring and adventuring once again.

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

So now we know why New England homes are famous for their "mud rooms" . . .
I was truly holding my breath throughout your descriptive journey, as I was wondering if this was from your archives,
but NO, it just happened! You've made incredible progress, Cheryl. You put me to shame . . . I have NO excuse not to walk.
But somehow, my little neighborhood doesn't beckon me. Now, when we're in Portland, we can't stop! *sigh*
And soon we'll be back with the girls in Michigan, so I'll share that grandmotherly gift of presence with them!
I've enjoyed spending my late evening hours with you here. Your blogs always inspire and fill me with good cheer and faith.
Blessings to you and your family for a lovely Easter. I've set our table, but we'll be alone, until NEXT weekend, God willing!
ps.....oh, forgot to ask how you got little Jaxson back into his boot . . . did you have rags or wet ones? toooooo funny!

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

Dear Sarah...your visit is lovely and enlightening...No worries about my age. We all grow older soon enough. The trick is to have a young mind and great travel partners...also, one must be their own travel partner. I love being with the boys, but I also love that alone time in the forest. It is an adjustment for sure but day by day I make me, it just important, to keep on going...Happy Spring to you.

March 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

Ah Antoinette, how astute of you to remember the mud rooms...yes. I don't have one in this house but sure wish I did. I do have one at the Maine house though and it is very helpful in all seasons.
I'm getting there, everyday is a challenge of sorts but progress is coming. Might take awhile and I give up some hours to the exercises but they just have to be done. I wish it were warmer here so I could get out more..but we do the best we can with what we have.
About the boot, Oh my, we were in gales of laughter over that, and watching Liam laugh was even funnier. We just took his sock off, wiped his foot with a kleenex and stuck it back in his boot. He was not bothered by it at all. Such a fun day.
Enjoy your time with the know how fast it passes...I'm glad your going...

March 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

Oh the places you'll go with that new knee! Good for you for getting out there, especially during mud season. And the boot stuck in the mud just made me smile big time! I love seeing your photos of all your wonderful adventures with your grandchildren, they will have so many fond memories to cherish!

March 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

What a beautiful place! I have always wanted to have a wild bird eat out of my such luck yet. :) It does look muddy and a lot of fun for little boys. Glad to hear your knee is healing well, it is a great time of year to be able to get out again. Enjoy the spring weather!

April 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

Your little men are really going to appreciate all the work and time you spent with them. I wish I had grandparents like you and Jim. Ordinary ...everyday moments become the most important treasures that life can hold.

April 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterH.S

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