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saturday morning

Saturday morning. 7am or thereabouts. “Nursing! Nursing!” he hollers, so open mouth, insert boob. Then he stands atop my preternally flat pillow, holding onto the bedframe for support, hovering over me, stepping on my hair and tells me he’s wet. For some reason, his night diaper has leaked, a rarity. Bleary-eyed, I strip him, carelessly flinging his damp sleeper and onesie and soaked diaper in front of the closet and feel my way to said closet to fish out his spotted onesie, olive green animal shirt and the mid-blue monster undies to change him into. I feebly attempt to open my eyes a little wider so I don’t walk into the already-wrinkled placenta print hanging on the wall at the foot of the bed.

I’m able to buy myself a little more shut-eye by convincing him to get his new tractor book from the library, since Raspberry, who has also awoken at this ungodly hour, has dashed out to get some books to read in bed. Yes, she dashes everywhere, even at 7am. “Get him some books too,” Lucas calls to her. She brings him a two Baby-sitters Club books. “I meant some books he can read,” Lucas chides. Beside me, I can hear him rifling through the yellowed pages of one of the Baby-sitters Club books, before he finally goes to get the tractor book.

To think that he’ll sit in bed with the book for another fifteen minutes is wishful thinking. Soon enough, it’s “Dawnie, wake up. Dawnie, wake up,” on repeat, until I get annoyed enough to literally roll out of bed to shut him up, because there’s little other way I can get out of it these days. He wants me to carry the tractor book for him out to the living room because it’s too heavy.

As always, raisins in his pink bowl at the little white table. With a metal spoon. He scoops out two large handfuls of raisins, littering the table and floor with a couple. As he bends down to pick them up, I surreptiously smuggle several back into the jar, because I think he’s got way too many this morning. They’re the expensive organic raisins and they have to last. He catches me in the act and like the fantastic parent that I am, I lie through my teeth tell him I was just helping him pick up some that he dropped. He doesn’t protest when I set down his little red polka-dotted cup of full of soy milk. Some days, he claims he doesn’t want any, but drinks it anyway. Toddlers are such enigmas. I’m glad this morning, he doesn’t yell about wanting to pour the milk by himself, hoofing it to the fridge to grab the carton with both his tiny hands, shaking it up and then spending five minutes trying to unscrew the lid so that he can pour the milk out into his miniscule cup with way too many glugs. He’s been foregoing his usual banana, as the bananas are currently too ripe for his liking, but he wants one today. I pass him the hand of three spotted bananas and he selects the one with the most dark lines on its skin. With a great deal of effort, he attempts to separate it from the others, but the ripe, fibrous stalk won’t give, even with his Herculean effort. “Do you want some help?” “No, Ares does it.” And he does.

I settle on the couch and wrap myself in the brown fleece blanket. Thankfully, it covers the enormous gaping hole in the knee of my pajama pants. I really should fix that. It’s a little chilly, but the heat’s not kicking on despite the windows having been slightly open all night. My eyes drift shut every so often, because I don’t do 7am (granted, it’s probably about 7:30am now, but I don’t do that either). Interestingly, when I was half my age, when all the normal kids were sleeping in, I was up and rarin’ to go this early in the morning. But that was a golden, pimply age before children, before I would happily sacrifice sleep at night in favour of several blissful hours all to myself.

Raisins and milk done, and half a banana abandoned on the dining table, he climbs up beside me and I offer him the second blanket, which he happily lets me drape over his legs. I can’t imagine the cold faux leather on his bare legs must be too comfortable, but he’s not complaining. He points to Nibbles: The Book Monster, by Emma Yarlett, which was sitting on the couch amongst a pile of books from last night. I don’t think he understands the fairy tale pieces but he likes the jagged holes the monster has made in the pages. We go through that, and then Fiona Roberton’s A Tale of Two Beasts; Dr Seuss’ The Eye Book; Emily Gravett’s Tidy (“Pete,” he calls this book, because of the main character. It takes me a couple of tries to figure out what he meant when he said he wanted to read Pete);” Steve Antony’s I’ll Wait Mr Panda; and Ciara Flood’s Those Pesky Rabbits. I toss each finished book beside me and as a pile forms, the books slide off the cushion that’s propping them up, creating a domino-like formation. It’s been a while since we last read so many books this early in the morning. I ask him if he wants Paul Bright’s The Hole Story, but he requests Genichiro Yagyu’s The Holes in Your Nose instead. The latter may have a page about royal underwear, but the latter has boogers, nose hair and a snotty gorilla. I grab Rosie Revere, Engineer off the shelf too, as I don’t remember the last time we read it. Eight books in one sitting is quite a feat and he gets restless. We almost made it to the end of Rosie Revere, save for two pages. My legs are stiff from having been in more or less one position for so long.

Raspberry emerges from the bedroom wanting breakfast and of course, he wants breakfast too, because two toddler handfuls of raisins, half an almost-too-ripe banana and an espresso-sized cup soy milk do not constitute a proper meal. Faced with the daily dilemma over what to give picky children for breakfast, I come up with the idea to have crepes, except we’ve neglected to pen the recipe into our book and it’s just floating somewhere out there in the digital universe. It’s well past nine now, and I go into the bedroom to see if Lucas has bookmarked the recipe somewhere. I can’t believe Ares and I have already been up for two hours. Despite having the whole bed to himself, Lucas is on his side, almost on the edge. “I’ll get up and make them,” he says, of the crepes. “Thank goodness,” I think to myself.

tears

The epic pre-bedtime meltdown, spurred by my telling him to pee before bed.

Twenty-four weeks, four days

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two days before christmas

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motherhood

averse

My nursing aversion was particularly intense tonight. Ares woke up as I tried to put him down on the couch. Usually, I’d enlist Lucas’ help to slide a pillow under him on my lap, but seeing that he was intently planning tomorrow’s class, I decided I would do it myself. This, of course, turned out to be a terrible idea, since Ares woke up barely ten minutes after initially falling asleep and demanded to nurse, which is all well and good, except that it took him ages to fall back into a deep sleep, which meant that he was nursing repeatedly for what felt like eons. And it’s not a good thing to feel like there’s an army of bugs marching all over your nipples when you nurse, and the only sensation you feel is a clawing itch that makes you want to remove your breasts by any possible means. Every attempt I made to slide a pinkie in so as to extricate myself was met with a wailing protest, “Nursing! Nursing!” he would howl, his eyes still shut. With my frustration bubbling over as the minutes ticked by (I heard Lucas’ watch beep ten o’clock and groaned both inwardly and outwardly), I was only too relieved when he finally allowed me to drape him over my shoulder and rub his back to fall asleep. Thank goodness he was nowhere near my nipples.

——

Weeks ago, nursing was simply unbearable because of the intense pain when Ares latched on. I’d wince every time we nursed (and it wasn’t even that often) and I dreaded the latch. Lucas tried to be supportive, reminding me to breathe whenever I squeezed my eyes shut in pain. Easy for him to say! When asked about it, the midwife said by the second trimester, my hormones should stabilize and it might not hurt as much any more. Well, she was partly right — I don’t get the searing pain and it doesn’t hurt as much. Um, yay?

It was actually almost exactly a month ago when upon investigation, I confirmed my worst suspicions that my milk had dried up. When I mentioned it to Ares, he suckled for a little bit, stared at the nipple and declared nonchalantly, “No milk today.” It would be a phrase he’d repeat every so often in the days following. It was around this time (or really, the week or two before) that we noticed Ares’ appetite had dramatically increased — he’s consuming about three times as much as he did before! At some meals, he actually eats more than Raspberry does. Who knew he was getting so much from breastmilk?!

Despite his increased food consumption, he still nurses about twice a day, sometimes more. He still night nurses, and also does so at bedtime. Occasionally, he’ll ask to nurse during the day, if we’re at home, or he might nurse to nap. I’m determined not to wean him, despite the pain and the aversion, as I believe he still benefits from breastfeeding. He may not be anything like Raspberry, who seized every chance she could to nurse, but he seems quite happy to continue. I’m sure he’ll be even happier when the colostrum finally comes in, whenever that will be. I know I’ll certainly be happier, especially if it means I don’t have that itching, scratchy sensation that accompanies a toddler’s mouth latched on to my nipple (I wonder if that’s a result of dry nursing?). My goal is to tandem-nurse after the baby’s born. In the meantime, I suppose I just need to grit my teeth and bear it, pains and aversions and all.

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Breakfast, while the apple was getting crushed, before the bowl went flying on to the ground.

ares is two

+

and here we are…

This little one caught us by surprise in late October.

While it’d be great to report that our initial reaction was one of delight, our actual response had been quite the opposite. Ohhh, there was so much panicking and worry because this hadn’t been in the cards at all. We were supposed to be all done at two, and all together we were four. Those were nice round, even numbers. There was never supposed to have been a three or a five… and now, here we were.

My late October was spent in a state of mental disarray and preoccupation. I spent every free moment thinking about it, even falling asleep worrying about it. It consumed me. Lucas and I lobbed out all the pros and cons.

Pro: the baby would only be 2 1/2 years younger than Ares and having a sibling close on age would be good for him. Con: Ares is just getting out of diapers right now (YAY!). Seriously, two more years of diapers after this? Ugh. Pro: having a new baby would be exciting for everyone. Con: we’d be five people in a one-bedroom apartment until at least October, and where would Ares sleep? And how will I wear Ares when I’m pregnant, or when the baby’s born? And what about being able to pursue my own interests and having time for myself? Obviously that’s going on the back burner for a while. And will we be able to afford a third child, especially when we want to travel? ARGHHHHH.

Yeah, we were freaking out. Or at least, I was.

With the cons dwarfing the pros, as well as our initial reactions, we thought we had our minds made up. There was a lot of Googling and a couple of clandestine trips to the sexual health clinic and the women’s hospital, where I got as far as setting up the appointment to take the abortion pill. I returned from the hospital infinitely less sure of our decision. Even though it was just two pills, the procedure terrified me for some reason, and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was that scared me. Maybe it was the heavy bleeding, or the unpredictability of the second pill (and needing someone with you the entire day), or the fact that you might be able to make out the features of the fetus when it emerges. I honestly couldn’t say what I was afraid of. It didn’t help that I’d have to suspend breastfeeding for three days — how do you explain to a sleepy toddler who’s not even two that he can’t nurse in the middle of the night? (Granted, I know this is not a reason to forego an abortion, but it certainly didn’t help.) Lucas was concerned about my health, because like any other medical procedure, there are risks. Ultimately, the more we talked about it, the more it appeared to us that we were going to have three kids and before we actually explicitly said anything definitive, we began talking about the logistics of having a baby.

So here we are, sixteen-and-a-half weeks into this new adventure. With the exception of having to switch to maternity clothes and empire waist dresses, taking a prenatal vitamin every morning, and yelling at Raspberry to stop trying to jump on me, the pregnancy now is mostly an afterthought (which I feel terrible about), mostly because I have two insane little people filling up my days. It’ll probably be different once I start feeling the baby kick, but at the moment, it’s just me going through the daily grind, and oh, I just happen to be pregnant. I’m sure lots will change between now and June, when the baby’s scheduled to make its appearance, but for now, the days are just flying by and it’s just quietly hanging out in the ever-expanding belly, waiting for the moments when I notice it’s there.

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“A cheerful letter or message is on its way to you.”

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the sweater

It was my first year of university, either 1999 or 2000, when I acquired this sweater. It came from Stitches, in Jackson Square. I think on this particular occasion, my roommate, Vidya, and I went to there perhaps with the express purpose of shopping (this is amusing to think about now, given the state of Jackson Square when I last saw it three years ago). I couldn’t tell you if we bought anything else, but we both bought this sweater — hers was a navy blue and mine was grey.

At this point, I can tell you that I was a complete newbie when it came to buying my own clothes. I was the kind of kid whose mom bought her all her clothes until I moved out for university. As such, I didn’t know what constituted a reasonable price for various items of clothing, nor did I really know what size I wore. Hello, sheltered kid. I paid more than I would now for this sweater — maybe $20 or so, and that was very likely its regular price (while this was a trend that followed me for the next four years, I now very rarely buy clothes on regular price any more). And it’s a size medium. I’d like to point out that I generally fit into extra-small or small clothes (extra-large or extra-extra-large, if I’m wearing kids’ clothes though). However, perhaps in the style of the late 90s/early 2000s, a slightly baggy sweater might’ve been in. It’s the kind of hoodie that’d have gone well board shorts (the label reads “board stiff,” if that might be any indication), and I’m willing to venture that I probably wore it with my red or blue or pink board shorts during the next four years. It was never a go-to sweater, just an item of clothing I’d once been excited to purchase, in the throes of my newfound independence.

As my wardrobe ballooned and I amassed more sweaters than I actually regularly wore, the grey sweater became an afterthought, buried in the bottom of my closet. I’m not sure why I didn’t donate it to the clothing swap, like I did with tons of my other clothes during my mass decluttering. It’s not like I ever liked it that much.

It ended up coming with me to the UK because my usual sweater than I slept in and bummed around the house in was too bulky for our luggage. I was a little sad to have to leave behind the cozy hoodie, courtesy of my time serving on the Student Representative Assembly, that was still too big for me despite being a size small, but I needed to cram other, more crucial clothes into the suitcase, dammit!

And so, this sweater, which I’d never really cared all that much for, became my sleeping sweater. All that daily wear made the zipper tab fall off first, but the zipper itself was still functional, despite quietly and gradually slipping ever downward through the night. This proved useful when night-nursing Ares, but I always worried that the unnecessarily sharp teeth of the zipper would mar his delicate newborn face (by the way, that didn’t happen, to my knowledge… whew!).

And then, the holes emerged in the sleeves. I was highly amused when they amounted to five holes, as I could stick my digits through them and voila, I had fingerless mitts built into my sleeves. Lucas could only shake his head at me. When the hole in the body got large enough, I was able to stick my boob through it to nurse without the frigid repercussions of having to lift my entire shirt and sweater.

The sweater, already too big to begin with, lost whatever shape it did have and hung limply from my body. Ditto with the sleeves, which were so droopy that if I attempted to push up my sleeves, they’d still drip down from my upper arm. Once, I was so frustrated with the saggy sleeves while I was doing the dishes, I actually held them in place with my teeth. There was probably a better solution, but in my moment of wet, drippy annoyance, this seemed like the best thing.

The material has worn so thin that you can see through it, without even having to hold it up to the light. One night last week, because I liked how it looked, I attempted to read an article on the New York Times website through the holes in my sleeve and the cobwebby cotton. It made for an interesting, layered view.

Two weeks ago, I finally decided I probably ought to replace the sweater, because it was clearly worn out and honestly, I have and had no love for it. Its replacement, discovered on the £5 rail of Resurrection, is apparently vintage. It’s red and emblazoned with the word “lifeguard” in large white capitals, it seems to follow the same pseudo-surfer style that was so popular in the early 2000s (I suppose that’s why they consider it [ahem] vintage now?). It’s much cozier and warmer than Ugly Grey Sweater ever was, to my recollection. The first night I wore it, Lucas said I looked like a different person every time he looked over at me. Obviously, wearing red makes me stand out more than grey ever did.

The old sweater now sits in a pile beside the couch because I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. No charity shop would want it, and the thinness of the material renders it utterly useless as rags. I feel bad adding it to the landfill but alas, I think that might be where it’ll end up. Because it was so crappy and I never cared for it, I’m not sad to see it go and I’ll easily toss it with a shrug. See you never again, Ugly Grey Sweater.

the sweater

It was my first year of university, either 1999 or 2000, when I acquired this sweater. It came from Stitches, in Jackson Square. I think on this particular occasion, my roommate, Vidya, and I went to there perhaps with the express purpose of shopping (this is amusing to think about now, given the state of Jackson Square when I last saw it three years ago). I couldn’t tell you if we bought anything else, but we both bought this sweater — hers was a navy blue and mine was grey.

At this point, I can tell you that I was a complete newbie when it came to buying my own clothes. I was the kind of kid whose mom bought her all her clothes until I moved out for university. As such, I didn’t know what constituted a reasonable price for various items of clothing, nor did I really know what size I wore. Hello, sheltered kid. I paid more than I would now for this sweater — maybe $20 or so, and that was very likely its regular price (while this was a trend that followed me for the next four years, I now very rarely buy clothes on regular price any more). And it’s a size medium. I’d like to point out that I generally fit into extra-small or small clothes (extra-large or extra-extra-large, if I’m wearing kids’ clothes though). However, perhaps in the style of the late 90s/early 2000s, a slightly baggy sweater might’ve been in. It’s the kind of hoodie that’d have gone well board shorts (the label reads “board stiff,” if that might be any indication), and I’m willing to venture that I probably wore it with my red or blue or pink board shorts during the next four years. It was never a go-to sweater, just an item of clothing I’d once been excited to purchase, in the throes of my newfound independence.

As my wardrobe ballooned and I amassed more sweaters than I actually regularly wore, the grey sweater became an afterthought, buried in the bottom of my closet. I’m not sure why I didn’t donate it to the clothing swap, like I did with tons of my other clothes during my mass decluttering. It’s not like I ever liked it that much.

It ended up coming with me to the UK because my usual sweater than I slept in and bummed around the house in was too bulky for our luggage. I was a little sad to have to leave behind the cozy hoodie, courtesy of my time serving on the Student Representative Assembly, that was still too big for me despite being a size small, but I needed to cram other, more crucial clothes into the suitcase, dammit!

And so, this sweater, which I’d never really cared all that much for, became my sleeping sweater. All that daily wear made the zipper tab fall off first, but the zipper itself was still functional, despite quietly and gradually slipping ever downward through the night. This proved useful when night-nursing Ares, but I always worried that the unnecessarily sharp teeth of the zipper would mar his delicate newborn face (by the way, that didn’t happen, to my knowledge… whew!).

And then, the holes emerged in the sleeves. I was highly amused when they amounted to five holes, as I could stick my digits through them and voila, I had fingerless mitts built into my sleeves. Lucas could only shake his head at me. When the hole in the body got large enough, I was able to stick my boob through it to nurse without the frigid repercussions of having to lift my entire shirt and sweater.

The sweater, already too big to begin with, lost whatever shape it did have and hung limply from my body. Ditto with the sleeves, which were so droopy that if I attempted to push up my sleeves, they’d still drip down from my upper arm. Once, I was so frustrated with the saggy sleeves while I was doing the dishes, I actually held them in place with my teeth. There was probably a better solution, but in my moment of wet, drippy annoyance, this seemed like the best thing.

The material has worn so thin that you can see through it, without even having to hold it up to the light. One night last week, because I liked how it looked, I attempted to read an article on the New York Times website through the holes in my sleeve and the cobwebby cotton. It made for an interesting, layered view.

Two weeks ago, I finally decided I probably ought to replace the sweater, because it was clearly worn out and honestly, I have and had no love for it. Its replacement, discovered on the £5 rail of Resurrection, is apparently vintage. It’s red and emblazoned with the word “lifeguard” in large white capitals, it seems to follow the same pseudo-surfer style that was so popular in the early 2000s (I suppose that’s why they consider it [ahem] vintage now?). It’s much cozier and warmer than Ugly Grey Sweater ever was, to my recollection. The first night I wore it, Lucas said I looked like a different person every time he looked over at me. Obviously, wearing red makes me stand out more than grey ever did.

The old sweater now sits in a pile beside the couch because I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. No charity shop would want it, and the thinness of the material renders it utterly useless as rags. I feel bad adding it to the landfill but alas, I think that might be where it’ll end up. Because it was so crappy and I never cared for it, I’m not sad to see it go and I’ll easily toss it with a shrug. See you never again, Ugly Grey Sweater.

the day with no squirrels

There was a surprisingly nice bout of warm weather about three weeks ago, and of course that meant I would try to take full advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. Monday saw us at Otterspool, at our usual meetup with our friends. Typically, I’m so worn out after that that all I want to do is veg for the next three days, but spurred on by the warm temperatures, I hauled Ares and Raspberry on a train up to Formby, to the squirrel reserve. We’d been there once before, with Carrie and Lucy, back in April. However, during that instance, the kids spent hours playing in the sand at the picnic area and we didn’t get much further than that. I made the deliberate decision to avoid the sandy bit, as I was determined to actually take a walk through the woods and see some squirrels this time around. [Spoiler alert: we didn’t see any squirrels, but we did chance upon two rabbits hiding in the bushes, as we were leaving.]

This was the first of many tree stumps she stood on.

And the first of many blackberries she picked.

We found a den (interestingly, not far from the sand pit I was trying to avoid)! It looked so cool and Raspberry tried to turn it into a yurt, with pots to cook with.

I enlisted a tired, grumpy and clingy Ares to pick up sticks (not for a game), just so I could rest my weary arms.

Oh hey, there happened to be food in Raspberry’s backpack, ready to be cut up and cooked. Ares wanted a turn too. They fought over it and I decided that it was time to move on (as awesome as this den was, I didn’t relish the thought of spending the next few hours there, sitting on a pokey ground blanketed with pine needles and pinecones, while the kids ran around. Next time, I’ll bring a book and we can do that).

Hello, dead tree.

Inspired by Olivia’s attempt to feed the pigeons in Olivia in Venice, Raspberry tried to hold out a handful of blackberries for the birds.
Much to her disappointment, they never came.

We followed an asparagus trail (not its proper name, but we so named it because of the pictures of asparagus next to the arrows), which led us away from the pine forest into the woods. We were under the impression that we might come upon a field of asparagus, but being directionally-challenged, I feared getting lost, so we turned back. [Upon further research, I now know there are actual asparagus fields; we’ll have to go the next time around.]. Also, I liked the pine forest better, as it had a more ethereal, magical quality to it than just a plain ol’ forest.

There were quite a few tree stumps in this area, and we made a game out of trying to climb on to every one. Ares enjoyed it but as one might expect, the seven-year-old lost interest soon enough. She discovered a path lined with brambles, promptly named it “Blackberry Alley” and went to town picking and munching away. This happened to be the day Ares started picking blackberries on his own.

Ares and Raspberry stuck pinecones in the hollow of a stump.

As much as I enjoyed the day and the quietude of the woods, I did get a little freaked out by how isolated it felt. Granted, it was a weekday and there were several other people walking their dogs or hiking with their kids, but there was still an overwhelming sense of solitude that scared me in the if-we-get-lost-no-one-will-find-us-and-we’ll-never-get-home sense. It’s completely unfounded, since for the most part, we stayed on the path, but I suppose I’m just not used to being in such a vast, peaceful space alone. I was quite relieved every time we saw other people, even more so when we finally left and headed back out into the sunshine. I think the next time we go, we’ll go with our friends, just to up the fun factor, and oh, so I won’t have that unwarranted feeling of isolation too.

the day with no squirrels

There was a surprisingly nice bout of warm weather about three weeks ago, and of course that meant I would try to take full advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. Monday saw us at Otterspool, at our usual meetup with our friends. Typically, I’m so worn out after that that all I want to do is veg for the next three days, but spurred on by the warm temperatures, I hauled Ares and Raspberry on a train up to Formby, to the squirrel reserve. We’d been there once before, with Carrie and Lucy, back in April. However, during that instance, the kids spent hours playing in the sand at the picnic area and we didn’t get much further than that. I made the deliberate decision to avoid the sandy bit, as I was determined to actually take a walk through the woods and see some squirrels this time around. [Spoiler alert: we didn’t see any squirrels, but we did chance upon two rabbits hiding in the bushes, as we were leaving.]

This was the first of many tree stumps she stood on.

And the first of many blackberries she picked.

We found a den (interestingly, not far from the sand pit I was trying to avoid)! It looked so cool and Raspberry tried to turn it into a yurt, with pots to cook with.

I enlisted a tired, grumpy and clingy Ares to pick up sticks (not for a game), just so I could rest my weary arms.

Oh hey, there happened to be food in Raspberry’s backpack, ready to be cut up and cooked. Ares wanted a turn too. They fought over it and I decided that it was time to move on (as awesome as this den was, I didn’t relish the thought of spending the next few hours there, sitting on a pokey ground blanketed with pine needles and pinecones, while the kids ran around. Next time, I’ll bring a book and we can do that).

Hello, dead tree.

Inspired by Olivia’s attempt to feed the pigeons in Olivia in Venice, Raspberry tried to hold out a handful of blackberries for the birds.
Much to her disappointment, they never came.

We followed an asparagus trail (not its proper name, but we so named it because of the pictures of asparagus next to the arrows), which led us away from the pine forest into the woods. We were under the impression that we might come upon a field of asparagus, but being directionally-challenged, I feared getting lost, so we turned back. [Upon further research, I now know there are actual asparagus fields; we’ll have to go the next time around.]. Also, I liked the pine forest better, as it had a more ethereal, magical quality to it than just a plain ol’ forest.

There were quite a few tree stumps in this area, and we made a game out of trying to climb on to every one. Ares enjoyed it but as one might expect, the seven-year-old lost interest soon enough. She discovered a path lined with brambles, promptly named it “Blackberry Alley” and went to town picking and munching away. This happened to be the day Ares started picking blackberries on his own.

Ares and Raspberry stuck pinecones in the hollow of a stump.

As much as I enjoyed the day and the quietude of the woods, I did get a little freaked out by how isolated it felt. Granted, it was a weekday and there were several other people walking their dogs or hiking with their kids, but there was still an overwhelming sense of solitude that scared me in the if-we-get-lost-no-one-will-find-us-and-we’ll-never-get-home sense. It’s completely unfounded, since for the most part, we stayed on the path, but I suppose I’m just not used to being in such a vast, peaceful space alone. I was quite relieved every time we saw other people, even more so when we finally left and headed back out into the sunshine. I think the next time we go, we’ll go with our friends, just to up the fun factor, and oh, so I won’t have that unwarranted feeling of isolation too.

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