Growing up, I loved peering through my Dad’s binoculars. He had an expensive pair that he kept in a black, cushioned case in the corner of his closet, and I was often inclined to borrow them…whether I had his permission or not. Sometimes at night, I’d snag the binoculars so I could test my espionage skills on the neighborhood teenagers who lived on our street; my naive eyes wide and hungry to catch the boys smoking cigarettes or kissing the girls under the streetlight glow. But most of my memories of the binoculars are simple, pure, and innocent, and they come from a time when I truly began to appreciate this beautiful world.
In the early 90’s, my parents used to take us on “day trips” as often as possible. From Jim Thorpe to Hawk Mountain, our Chevy Lumina seemed to transport us everywhere, and we were sure to pack those binoculars whenever we went hiking for the day. I recall one particular afternoon exploring Hawk Mountain; the northeastern autumn on full display as we reached the peak. My Dad handed me the binoculars while pointing out predatory birds; the raptors floating above the bright display of colors below.
If my father hits the lottery tomorrow, one of the first things he will do is to construct a home in the mountains…something that offers him additional peace and serenity. He is a hunter and a fisherman, and I’ve always been so thankful that he has introduced me to his some of hobbies (reluctant as I may have initially been). I love that he taught me how to cast a fishing line into a wild stream. I love that he introduced my husband to the sport of fishing, and that they now enjoy their time along the stream together. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when my eyes were opened to this incredible Earth, but I have my Dad and his binoculars to thank for encouraging me to take a closer look.
As an adult, whenever we have a free Saturday or Sunday, Dan and I try to schedule “day trips” of our own. Whether the destination is two hours away or two minutes away, we enjoy making the most of exploring. We’ve walked around the some of same trails and towns that I did as a child, and I always find that my favorite days are the ones when we just wander. This past Sunday, Dan suggested we spend the afternoon at the Tyler Arboretum, which is just outside of Philadelphia in Delaware County. It’s a quick drive and is surely a breath of fresh air.
The Tyler Arboretum is sprawling (clocking in at 650 acres), and with a property that size, there’s surely something for everyone. We witnessed smiling families, bird watchers, photographers, and hikers enjoying the same, serene setting, so I would highly encourage the arboretum for an afternoon amongst the shrubs, the saps, and the blooms! I can’t wait to go back…and maybe this time, I’ll ask my parents to join…but only if they bring the binoculars.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you!