Take them on a hike,
And let them lead.
We brought a friend along
And left little brother at home.
We drove up the Clara Barton Parkway
And parked in the Angler’s Inn Parking Lot
On the Canal Towpath, named for the restaurant
across the street.
We went on a good hike for young kids—
Heading up the canal towpath until we reached Widewater,
Where the canal opens into a lake, marked by small rocky islands.
Then we turned right, into the woods on a blue marked trail, the Billy Goat trail.
It travels up and down ravines, along an inlet of the Potomac, up again
over steep-but-not-too-steep rocks, and then leads to a high rocky place that
Opens startlingly to the rapids of the full Potomac River.
We stopped there, made that our destination, and turned back,
Although the path continues, steeper and rockier, with increasingly beautiful views, up the Potomac Gorge almost to Great Falls.
(that part is for when they get a little older).
This is what they found:
An elongated yellow and black spotted wasp (according to my biologist friends, most likely a Megarhyssa. The long pointy spike on its back end is not a crazy-long-hard-to-maneuver stinger but an ovipositor, used to bore into dead wood and then deposit an egg on beetle larva that have, in turn, been placed there by their mothers in hopes of avoiding just such predatory insects like these.)
A butterfly wing, lying abandoned on the towpath.
Fish, darting shadowy along the canal and the shallow inlet
A great blue heron
They touched things I wouldn’t touch:
The millipede (which pooped on S)
They paused for longer than I would have paused,
And, trained by their school on how to hunt for insects,
Let other families with children race past.
They abandoned lunch to
Sift through the cool shallow water along the inlet of the Potomac
For small shells, empty of animals,
They challenged each other up rocks
And helped each other down them.
They skinned knees,
Got hot and dirty,
And then wet and cool
In water of questionable cleanliness.
We were next to the city,
But for a while, no longer of it.
It was good to get out of the city.