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Bringing the Kids Along

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One of my favorite images from the trip:
And what of the kids? How does that work, taking your kids along while you're birding and shooting endless photos of a single little longspur? (Here's Bill, with his tiny subject over on the right side of the picture, just to give you an idea of the scene:) Well, it works very well, if your kids are Phoebe and Liam. They were into it. They love North Dakota, and our friends treat them kindly and make them feel a part of things. They wander in and out of the scene, fetch forgotten bits of gear from the car for us, read their books (at 7, Liam is already devouring chapter books, at least one a day), eat copious and usually verboten candy bribes, and just generally mellow out. Liam amused himself making rockpiles on a rockpile. When I came closer, I could hear him humming softly and sweetly, and I made out the tune: "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts, a song that makes him very sad, and that he won't listen to any more, but obviously still loves. As sweet a sound as any singing meadowlark.
North Dakota is a state of mind. It's immensely calming to be out on the prairie in the mellow evening sun, to breathe air fresher than any you've ever breathed, to hear the burbling of western meadowlarks and the buzzing of grasshopper and Savannah sparrows. It worked its magic on kids, and they never fought or complained; they ate dinner with us at 10 pm when the sun finally disappeared, and went to bed at 11, and we dragged them out of bed at 6:30 AM for field trips, and they were absolutely great about it. This is the reward that was waiting when we were getting up several times each night to feed and comfort them as infants. They're full-fledged agreeable and adorable people now. Ahhhh.Phoebe and Liam explore an old engine and caboose at a little historic rail museum.The snowplow spoke silently of a different North Dakota--one buried under yards and yards of snow. That is a snowplow what am a snowplow.And a happy man, doing what he loves most, with his family close at hand. Blessings? We're soaking in them!
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