Sunday, April 22, 2007

North Country Day: Blog in Three Parts

Part the First: Matt
I don't blog much about Matt. Part of it is for his privacy. If he wanted to have stuff like me sewing a button on his dress pants with pink thread at the last second to be ready for Easter dinner out there for public reading, he could have his own blog. He could call it "Thing I Won't Let Krupskaya Blog About."

Yesterday morning we got up early and took a walk. Before kids, before we were even dating, we did a lot of walking. Our time together, before I went to Russia, consisted of talking, walking, driving and rocking out mega. We went canoeing and hiking and took nighttime walks around our neighborhoods and looked at buildings in the dark.

We have to schedule our walks now, and if the kids come along the walk is much different. But yesterday it was just the two of us. When Matt and I walk together, he watches the trees and I watch the ground. He points out how trees are growing and why the landscape looks the way it does. I find tracks and offer up stories of why they look the way they do. We make a good team.

The trail we took crossed the creek and went up into the hills. We found tired piles of snow in the shady areas and greening long grass. As we reached the top, it began to rain. Smells woke up in the trees and the soil. We turned and came back down the steep hill, stepping over deer poop and trying not to slide in the mud. The creek is running high and almost all the ice is gone. It really is spring.

Part the Second: Maia
John and Matt went into town around midmorning to run some errands. I offered to take Maia rock hunting. This is something we do a lot that I haven't blogged about much at all. Two years ago, when we first came out here, Maia and I used to go to the lake every day to hunt rocks. Almost overnight I became a hunter-gatherer of Lake Superior agates. Maia developed a pretty good eye herself, and would toddle up to me with pea-sized rocks saying, "Dis a agat? Dis? Dis?" And almost every one of them was.

Yesterday I told her we could go up the shore and hunt for agates. She smiled politely and said that maybe she didn't feel like doing that today. I asked her what she wanted to do instead. What she wanted to do, she said, was go to the massive hotel-waterpark in the next town over like John did last weekend with all the Cub Scouts in the region, and which almost killed him with exhaustion and general xtreme waterpark action.

Well, rock hunting is free, and the massive hotel-waterpark is not, and Maia said she would go rock hunting even though she didn't want to, really. We pulled on our tall boots and waterproof jackets and hit the road.

We went to a nice big rock beach in one of the prettiest bays around here. Most of the rivers were packed with anglers, and there were a couple at the bay; otherwise, we had it to ourselves. We were soaked by the time we got down to the rocks, and Maia was the fiercest, best sport ever. "I like rainy days! I like getting wet! I like going to da lake in da rain!"

Every rock on that beach is a treasure. It's hard to decide what to bring home. I found one nice agate, but otherwise we spent much of our time playing tag with the glassy blue waves. The lake was fairly calm, but every once in awhile would sling a wave at us up to our knees, making Maia scream with laughter. Our jeans were soaked and our hair all straggly. After almost an hour, we figured it was time for lunch.

It looked like we had been fishing, so we looked out of place at the boutiquey-type cafe we went to. After a pot of coffee and some steaming chicken strips, we felt a little more human. We came back down the shore and stopped at an artists co-op where I spent six dollars on one bar of handmade soap and felt good about it. Maia fell asleep in the warm car and the rain stopped and the sun came out.

Part the Third: John
Another thing I have not blogged about is John's desire to be a wild man when he grows up. He's been talking about this for quite some time and has expressed interest in deer hunting, which has me totally nonplussed. He mentioned a couple weeks ago that he needs to learn how to dress a deer so he can make clothes from the hide. I mean, WHAT? This is even beyond the dislike of peanut butter.

Along with this, John has been asking for a bow and arrow set for years. Back when he was four, we told him he could have one when he was eight. And that was a totally arbitrary number. But he never forgot it.

Yesterday, Matt got to play the role of Totally Indulgent Parent (which is fun to do, if you do it right) and took John shopping for a bow and arrow. Fortunately, he has some knowledge of what to look for: Matt reached the level of Eagle Scout, and has his grandfather's recurve bows and arrows, and would like to get back into archery. (Amazing side note: Matt's grandfather used to bowfish. From a canoe. Successfully. For real.) And I got the archery award for the sixth grade at Outdoor Education, so I'm like totally at the same level.

We spent the afternoon shooting at a cardboard box on one of the gravel piles. John was very grown up; he called "clear!" and "firing!" just right every time, and would close his eyes and take a cleansing breath before every shot. I hit the target once; I seem to raise my aim as I'm releasing the string. I also cut my finger on a fletch (who does that?). Maia made herself useful by retrieving arrows, except those I overshot into the marsh behind the gravel pile.

His face lit up when he hit the target. He treated his bow like a tool, not a toy. He was patient with learning how to aim and did not get annoyed about the trickiness of nocking an arrow. Even six months ago, he might have given up much sooner. As it was, we spent an hour out there shooting, and then he spent some time on his own, until his arms got tired. He still seemed eight at the end of the day, but an older eight. A growing-up eight.

When we were done, he and I were walking back to the house. "What do you think, John?" I said. "Do you think archery might be a hobby for you?"

"Oh. Mom." He raised his eyebrows and nodded seriously. "It already is."

He slept with his bow by his bed last night.


  1. Good for you, handmade soap is the best, I agree 100 percent!

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  3. Walking along creeks...hunting for agates...archery. Three things that I did a lot of as a boy, and usually with my dad.

    Thanks for the fabulous writing!

    I can nearly feel the lake's spray on my face as I read it.

  4. Thanks, Kris! I wish I could have known your dad.

  5. I'm totally getting the Boy "The Dangerous Book for Boys" when it comes out next week. Sounds like it would be right up John's alley.

    Rainy days rock.

  6. I saw a review on that book the other day and thought the same thing!

  7. I also just want to say that I did much better the second day of shooting and didn't overshoot quite so much. Thank you.

  8. this is an old post, i know. but if you see it, you should recommend the book "My Side of the Mountain" to John. i don't remember the reading level exactly, but it's a book about a boy who also wants to be a wild man, and he goes out into the woods to live off the land. and he actually does it (i think the main character is around 12-15?). i don't think he actively hunts big game much in it, i think most of his food comes from trapping small game and gathering wild edible vegetation.