The weather today was absolutely beautiful. Patchy clouds and sun, warm temps (mid 70s), and just a bit of a breeze. Lovely. I wanted to take advantage, as tomorrow it's scheduled to rain, and then it will cool off a fair bit. So the boys and I elected to go for a hike at one of the Metro Parks, and we all had a great time.
Fall is so bittersweet for me. I love the changing colors of the trees, and how they seem to be on fire when the sun shines through them. I love fall hiking, as the weather is just warm enough to be out without a jacket when you're doing physical activity. I do enjoy the crispness of the autum air, though I'm never happy about the extra clothing that it usually requires, particularly this year, as maternity pants and I do not get along (why, oh why, don't more designers make talls more readily available?). What I dislike is knowing that this season precedes the season when everything goes to sleep; short, gray and cold days stuck indoors and having to bundle everyone up for even short trips outdoors along with thoughts of dreading the upcoming holiday shopping (ick!!). Fall also marks the season that my dad died, so though it was one of his favorite seasons, I always miss him so much more this time of year.
One of his favorite things to do with us when we were kids was to go hiking. We lived a short distance for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore with its miles of long, winding hiking trails. You seriously could get lost in these trails. Some of them led across the tops of the sand dunes with tall prarie type grasses, the hills sloping quickly down to the beach. Some days we'd come out across those and go along the beach for a while, making shoe prints in the sand and skipping a few rocks before returning back to the woods. My sister and I used to think we hated going hiking, and we'd balk every time he'd bring it up as an option for something to do together. Bribery with ice cream was often involved, but now, I so cherish those moments with him and truly know that I did not hate it...in fact, I loved it. The chance out in the quiet of the trees to share my innermost thoughts and dreams with my dad and then getting his loving advice to my problems. He had such an appreciation for nature, and I so want to instill this in my children. To have them love it, revere it, not take it for granted, and to have it be such a part of their lives that they couldn't imagine not enjoying it.
So today, I decided we should go for a hike. Part of what I love about where we live is the multitude of parks that we have to choose from. The Cuyahoga River cuts through this area and provides an opportunity for various types of recreation. The Towpath trail is fantastic for hiking and biking, though I think I prefer to bike that one, yet there are enough other dedicated hiking trails of various lengths and grades that anyone could find one to their liking. One of our favorites in the Metro Parks cuts through the old Portage Trail that the Indians used to carry their canoes from one river to another. This trail is over 2 miles long, and after doing the 1/2 mile scenic overlook trail, we decided not to do the whole trail.
My favorite part of the trail runs right along the river, and there's a picnic area with benches. One of the benches sits right at the water's edge, so we stopped there for a while. The boys tried skipping stones, looking for treasures, and picking out leaves that were showing their best fall colors. Liam found a flat shale-type rock shaped like the state of Ohio. Jonah's favorite rocks were the ones so big that he couldn't possibly fit them in his pockets, though he tried repeatedly.
All too soon, the sun was setting, and it was time for us to go. It really made me smile when Jonah kept repeating, "I love hiking." He was definitely reluctant to leave. "But I want to hike more," he would protest. Liam, on the other hand, while he seems to really enjoy the hiking, has the capacity to realize when he's becoming fatigued and knows that it's time to turn around.
As we were getting to the trail today, there were two young cats, really not far removed from their kittenhood, who were sitting on the curb of the parking lot watching the wildlife. When they saw us get out of the van, they came over to greet us, one of them quite loudly. One was a male with white and brown patches that had swirls of dark tabby colors in them. The other was a female marmalade tabby, much like our Neely, only more orange in hue. At first they were shy, hanging back and just calling to us while we took a bathroom break. Once we came out, they got a little braver and started following us to the trail, calling out as if to ask us to come back and pay them some attention....or likely bring them some food. This park was fairly far removed from any housing, so the likelihood that they were someone's pets out for a traipse was pretty unlikely. They seemed like they had been fairly well fed and were pretty clean, so I'm assuming they probably had not been out there for too long. Someone had probably abandoned them there, which really broke my heart. I hoped that by the time we returned that they would be gone, so I wouldn't have to feel guilty about not feeling like there was anything I could do for them.
When we finished our hike and arrived back at the parking lot, the two cats greeted us like old friends and followed us wherever we were going. Now I was really feeling bad...Crazy cat lady, yes I am. I would have brought them home if it weren't for the fact that I'd likely be disowned. Not good to be out on the streets when you're in your 7th month of pregnancy. So I ushered the boys to the car and got them buckled in, told them to say goodbye to the kitties, and made them the promise that I would try to find a shelter to take them to when we got home, particularly since they were so friendly (and thus probably adoptable). Around the corner at the scenic overlook trail, I spotted a park ranger and then made a quick turn into the parking lot. Sprinting from my car (yup, I can still move pretty fast if I have to!), I got his attention and told him about the poor deserted animals. Hopefully there is something he can do for them. I will likely go back tomorrow just to make sure they've been rescued...and if not, I've got a few numbers now that I can call to see if I can find these poor little guys a home. Other than with me.