Yesterday I persuaded my family to go on a hike in the mountains in Western North Carolina. We recently moved here from the gated golf and beach world of Florida and are living in a rural area. My husband and I enjoy the outdoors but our “kids” are now 17 and 19 and take a little convincing when it comes to hiking with your parents.
As my children were growing up we took several vacations and day trips that involved the outdoors and those times were always special to me. Not just for the memories of the good times we shared but more for the memories of the voices. By voices I mean hearing my husband and son talking ahead of me on the trail, of hearing my daughter and son reminiscing of past hikes or family trips. Since my kids were able to talk I have unconsciously promoted the art of conversation. Being outside encourages conversation even more. At home, my son and husband could be together all day and only banter back and forth about some obscure sports trivia or why can’t he hang up his towels the first time he asks him. But in the woods I hear them in the distance talking. Having a conversation. As the pace changes and it’s he and I together I await the natural flow the conversation will take. I throw out a nibble about his new high school. He tells me more than the usual “it sucks”. The pace changes again and I’m with my daughter, home for the summer from college. She has been blessed with the gift of comfort and ease. We talk about everything from her girlfriends to what’s on sale at J. Crew. My husband catches up and we talk about how glad we are that we made this lifestyle change and live amid this natural beauty of the mountains.
As a mom I relish these walks in the woods. They reinforce to me that my family is attached by some kind of web. No matter where we move to or what separates us from each other. One on one, face-to-face, real time conversation seems a lost art.
When I’m in the woods with my family I know that somehow that has been fostered in our home. When I hear the voices behind me or next to me I feel overwhelmed by the gift that I can be part of a family that shares their voice and their thoughts with each other.
Technology makes it impossible to not stay in touch and have conversation. That has been a benefit for most of us. But it will never replace the time we rock on the front porch; we walk on the beach or in the woods, or share a meal with our friends and family.
Real time, “face time” as I like to call it. That’s what I want.
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