The perfect gift for a running mom
By Marlene Farrell
A week before my birthday I received a gift, though not the type to unwrap or hold. Rather, a full day in the woods with my 10-year-old son, Quentin. He gave
freely of his time, eager for adventure. Kevin gave me the opportunity by planning his own evening with Alice after she returned from day camp and a play date.
The value dawned on me two miles into our trip to Lake Stuart. I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere but a few steps behind Quentin, watching him climb over rocks and roots in the trail, shifting the unfamiliar weight of his new pack on his shoulders but not complaining. When a log or boulder at the two- to three-foot height appeared, he’d occasionally drop onto it to rest. Quentin wasn’t concerned with time. I should have left my watch at home, to disengage myself from the burden of precision.
Quentin was content, pleased with my company, or so he led me to believe with his spontaneous hugs. My joy and anticipation grew in equal measure as we drew closer to the lake. For much of this summer we had time together running around Blackbird Island while Alice practiced strokes at swim team. But this trip had no constraints until the next morning. The hours of day seemed to stretch luxuriously long.
At the lake we could be stunned at our leisure, because we found a spacious campsite of granite slabs to fulfill every imaginable purpose: tent platform, cooking rocks, overlook, game spot with natural backrest, and beach for dipping into the chilly waters.
Once there, Quentin didn’t flop on the ground, spent. He didn’t demand sugar or abandon me to work while he hooted in the water. We were partners in all cozy aspects of making our home. We relished the feet-in-flip-flops feel together, assembled the tent poles so they stabbed the huckleberry bushes, and Quentin blew up his pad and unstuffed the sleeping bags. It all happened quickly.
The water shocked and restored us, but we didn’t venture past our knees with a brisk wind blowing over us. Dinner tasted gourmet in such friendly company. And afterward, games kept our hands busy while we stretched our legs and gazed at birds flitting over the lake’s marshy edge.
The best gift of all was Quentin’s scampering lightness, through camp, exploring boulder caves and viewpoints, and on our evening stroll, which turned into a run. He was an elf, at home in the wild, made more fully alive by being there. I stepped carefully around obstacles, so he had to wait for me. I’d round a bend and there he’d be, flashing a smile before turning and running again.
We have been together in the woods on hundreds of occasions but rarely just he and I. So my eyes could see — Quentin’s strength, maturity, passion, and well-being. Worries were shed, probably never to return. I feel just as elated recalling it a week later. No matter my mistakes as a mom, he is coming into his own. He has much to offer the world, just as he showed me the way along the lake.
Marlene Farrell is a Leavenworth resident, long-distance runner and coach with the Peshastin-Dryden Striders kids running club.