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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Walking With Teenagers

Posted by | December 10, 2018 | Filed under: Culture

This is the time of year I begin to re-discover the trails here at the reserve. My two kids, ages 18 and 14, often join me for walks. My oldest, Grace, goes willingly and often by herself. For her younger brother, Leo, a trail walk is less exciting than basketball and YouTube. On this particular fall morning I have taken Leo from his stretched out position on the couch to the Muskie Trail. His sweatshirt hood pulled low, he walks with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He's not happy about being forced upright, but he's a good kid, and I've said we're going for a walk, so he goes.

Ahhh, the Muskie Trail in October! It can make a 14-year old fan of virtual reality suddenly engage with . . . actual reality!  A whiskered American Dagger Moth caterpillar gets Leo's attention. It ripples and rolls across the boardwalk, filaments bristling. (No, I didn't know it was an American Dagger Moth caterpillar. I googled "crazy-looking yellow caterpillar," "black spikes," and "amateur seamstress." It came right up.)

An American Dagger Moth Caterpillar brightens up the boardwalk. Photo by Lynne Vachon

"I can really eat this?" Leo studies the cranberry Grace has picked. I think the question is not so much related to eating something rummaged from the groundcover, but the fact that it is not a corn dog. He eats it.

Grace Vachon on the Muskie Trail boardwalk. Photo by Lynne Vachon

Around the corner we discover an impressive mass of ferns. Nearly overnight (but probably not) they stopped being green. These glowing yellows and rich auburns are the last hurrah. Leo's phone is out and he's taking their picture. The ferns don't know what a high compliment this is. They crowd together and circle the trees, tips leaning to one another as if sharing confidences at a the soirée of the year. 

Leo Vachon and ferns on the Muskie Trail. Photo by Lynne Vachon

 At a recent parent-teacher conference, I spoke with another parent as we waited for time with our kids' educators. We shared our concern about the stress and isolation that plague adolescent culture these days. The heavy focus on academics and the lure of on-line gaming. I also attended a recent presentation at the Reserve by author and mom Cindy Ross, whose wonderful books on the benefits of nature and travel for children are available in our gift shop. No time spent in nature with kids is ever wasted, and the woods, fields, rivers and ferns of the Wells Reserve have been a tremendous help to me in trying to bring some balance, and more nature, into their lives. Yes, my kids study, they play video games. They skip breakfast. But they also take amazing walks.

Photo by Lynne Vachon

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