When I step out on my front porch, this is what I see:
And just across the street from us is the entrance to the walking/jogging/biking trail that runs along the river. Elisabeth and I walk it daily, usually joined by a random extra child, but sometimes on Sundays I manage to convince multiple extra family members to come with me. This was one of those days.
Todd, Daniel, Joshua, and Jakob all accompanied Bitsy and me as I anticipated a peaceful Sunday stroll. All was going well – Jakob was finding bugs, Joshua was finding fishing spots, Daniel was…hmm, I’m not sure what he was doing. But then suddenly, Todd saw it. The nemesis of the river trail. The enemy that our ward (religious congregation) has been working to get rid of for the past two years. A thistle.
You see, these nasty little plants are annuals. Which means that if you kill them before they have a chance to flower and reproduce, they won’t come back next year. The ward has made significant progress in the battle against the thistles, but alas, a few hardy specimens managed to survive this spring’s attack. Todd had spied one such plant.
“Daniel, grab that stick and smash that thistle,” he ordered. Daniel was more than happy to obey. He found a stick and “Whack, whack, whack!” The thistle was no more.
Joshua and Jakob had come running to see what all the ruckus was about. When they saw Daniel swinging the stick, their eyes lit up with glee. Our peaceful Sunday stroll was about to become very violent. What should have been a 20 minute outing became an hour long search and destroy mission as the three boys sought out and smashed every thistle along the path. Actually, Jakob was taking a whack at anything tall and green. And oh, you should have seen the looks fellow trail walkers gave us as they passed by. I’m guessing that they didn’t realize that my boys were actually doing a good deed by beating the hapless flowers to a pulp.
This went on all the way down the trail, until we reached the area that our ward hadn’t gotten to yet. There were huge thistles everywhere. The boys were positively glowing with the anticipation of total thistle annihilation.
I had to put a stop to it. With a promise of, “We’ll smack some more tomorrow,” I led them away from the river and back into civilization. We were still on the trail, but no longer following the river. It was then that I made the biggest mistake of the afternoon. I pointed out the site of a bird’s demise to Todd and Joshua. A cat had had a lovely birdie meal, leaving behind two bird wings and lots of icky, bloody feathers. Todd and I looked and moved on, while Josh stayed behind to further examine the remains.
And then we heard him say, “Wow! There are lots of feathers all over, and I’m holding them all!”
I’ve decided I need to find a new family activity for Sunday afternoons.
PS – Lest you think that all of our walks end in violence, here is an example of a typical afternoon walk. (In other words, I’m really just including this because I think the pictures are cute.)
Meeting up with a friend (the milk jug is for bug collecting):
Heading down the trail:
Stopping to throw some rocks:
And taking a shortcut back home!
PPS- Did I mention that the trail is also used for biking? And that I don’t currently have a bike but I really, really want want one? Especially one like the really cool Madsen in the link on the right? You can help me win one by clicking on that link.