Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Children in the Woods (with Grandpa)

This week is mid-winter break here in Southeastern Michigan. A funny week off from school once devoted to going to Disney, or going skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing. Since the economic down turn? It's more of a "freak out because I don't have anyone to keep their eye on the kids 'cause I'm working like crazy so I don't end up out of a job - week". As it turns out, this phenomenon means my children are in the woods - with Grandpa.

Grandpa stepped up to the plate and offered to take the oldest three boys Up North. If you are from Michigan you know what I mean when I say Up North. It's not a town or even a specific local it's just anywhere north-ish of the middle of the mitten. OK - for those who don't know what I mean by mitten... Hold up your right hand, palm facing you, thumb sticking out just a bit... See the mitten? That's Michigan.
My parents are lucky enough to have a summer home "Up North" right smack on the side of a 130 ft. bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. We visit in the summer time (read... less snow) and let the boys sleep outside in their tree house they helped grandpa build. They look for Petosky stones on the beach. Grandpa makes them hike along the beach to look at the bald eagle nest in the big tree. They swing from a tree swing until their hands are rope burned beyond recognition. Grandma cooks white fish caught that morning from local fishermen right out in the lake - and the boys swear it's the only fish they like. It's darker there at night than any place they've ever seen and they like to play tricks on the neighbors down the lane using laser pointers and bird calls. My children are in the woods, thanks to Grandpa!
This week my boys aren't at Disneyworld, or skiing at the local ski hill and hanging out at the mall and the movies. They are getting lessons from Grandpa in ice castles and how they form along the freezing lake shore. They road a toboggan for the very first time and checked their tree house to make sure it wasn't harboring winter critters. Unbeknown to dear old Mom, Grandpa found a kid's archery set at a garage sale and he's teaching them the art. Thank goodness I'm not there, my heart might stop. I've talked to them a couple of times and they sound giddier than the last time we went to Disney. Really, I was surprised, but they're thrilled to be at the summer house in winter with just Grandpa. Having a "boy's week".

Maybe the economy will mean more vacations like this, more time with family, more time in the woods. Maybe the souring job market will mean we spend more time outdoors, enjoying nature (hey, it's free!) and spending time with our kids. (Who knew!?! They actually like it!) Maybe the lessons we have learned from global warming, the economy and the job market will turn things around and my boys will value the opportunity to take their children Up North to check in on the tree house, see the ice castles and contemplate whether or not archery is a safe sport for kids. I think so and I hope Grandpa is there to see it.
This is (another!) Green Phone Booth submission for the February APLS Carnival to be hosted here, at The Green Phone Booth, on Friday, February 20th by The Green Raven. If you would like to participate in the carnival, please send a link to your "nature" post to aplscarnival(at)gmail(dot)com by Wednesday, February 18. - THAT'S TODAY! Please send your submissions in to the Green Raven!


Willo said...

It's nice to read about "Up North." And it's funny how, when you are from Michigan, the further south you live, the further south up north is. For us it was a little cabin with no electricity or running water in Rose City and playing card games by kerosene deep into the night. Those are fond memories and my favorite vacations. I hope we are teaching our children to appreciate the same.

Joyce said...

I love this post. There is nothing at Disneyworld that could compete with Northern Michigan with Grandpa. Lucky guys.

j.c. said...

Another Michigander here, enjoying reading about your boys' mid-winter break up north. :) It's a magical place any time of year.

JessTrev said...

Fabulous stuff. Your boys are SO lucky! As are you. Family ties are just as important as nature...and I love that they weave together for your clan.

Green Bean said...

What a wonderful way for your boys to spend the week off! I do agree with you. I think this slumping economy and our awareness stemming from global warming will have many side benefits. One being an appreciation of simpler things. Another being more time with family. Beautiful post. And given our last trip to Disneyland, I'd take a week with Grandpa "Up North" any day of the week!


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