Last fall, I returned home from an after dinner meeting to find my daughter unhappily knee deep in prime numbers homework and my husband ravenously reading the Wikipedia article on primes in an attempt to activate a 25-year-old math class memory that would provide the necessary insight to help. Both were frustrated, and neither was saying much. With no one’s consent, and barely their assent, I packed them both up in the car and drove down to Waterworks Park on Beaver Dam Lake.
We walked onto one of the piers and sat. Just sat. No talking, no Googling and certainly no prime numbers. We listened to the lake rippling onto the rocks on the shoreline, we inhaled the crisp autumn air, and we silently watched the sunset together. After about 30 minutes, we got back in the car and returned home to the awaiting assignment with some new perspective and even a few smiles.
This is not the only example of curative nature in our family; there are many. Our annual Memorial Day camping adventure at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo (just an hour’s drive from Beaver Dam) has saved us thousands in the therapy (or meds) I would require without it. Three days in the woods eating pudgy pies, and feigning an attempt to hike them off, does wonders for your attitude. A hot shower and central heat (or A/C, depending on the year) are things I find myself grateful for, when I should be glad for them every day.
Most recently, Horicon Marsh posted on Facebook that their floating boardwalk was ready for spring and I dragged my overbooked family out on a school night to walk it. We got some great photos and did our best to identify several migrating birds that had just flown in. The magic happened when my tween daughter shared the plot for a story she wanted to write, as well as the drama d’jour from school that day. My husband told us about an article he read on making electric engines from alternators. I honed my listening skills (which always need work). There was a real family conversation happening.
The point is this – we have this amazing locally grown remedy for tween angst and family exhaustion. It took me years to discover its value. I thought fancy vacations to Disneyland or another Monster High doll would bring us closer as a family, but the truth was, what we were seeking was in our backyard all along.