Yesterday after I left work DD4 and I had some errands to run . . . eye doctor, library, craft store etc, but afterwards we had a little bit of time before the sun went down to visit one of my favorite places in our area, a hiking and biking trail that runs for miles alongside the river that runs through our metropolitan area. Back when DD4 was a toddler, DS1, DS2, and DD3 were in Junior High School. They are all close in age, and were each one grade apart. They all three had the same 9th grade Biology Teacher who every fall had the tradition of assigning his classes to assemble an insect collection as their first project for the year. We do have a fairly large backyard where we could find a fair number of insects, but the assignment specifically required that the students find a wide variety of insects, which meant visiting a wide variety of locations in order to collect said insects. So, every fall we went out in search of insects, usually with all six children in tow. One of our favorite places to visit was the river parkway trail which has boardwalks over a large swampy area filled with all sorts of interesting wildlife, including insects.
DS2 and his friends later starting riding their bikes along the trail on many hot summer afternoons, and sometimes the younger kids and I would also make the trip, at least for a mile or two down the trail. Sometimes we have taken a picnic along, and I haven even taken cub scouts and young women's groups to the parkway for hikes and activities. As the older children have grown and moved away from home, DD4 and I have spent many summer evenings searching out parks and other places to hike and take photos and just enjoy the long summer evenings. The parkway trail has been one of our favorite places to return to time and again, but for some reason we have not visited there yet this summer, until last night. So as the red sun set in the western sky behind the haze of distant wildfires, we again hiked a part of one of our favorite trails as one of our last hurrahs for the summer, the last summer before my last child leaves for college. Bittersweet, but beautiful, all the way around.