Hey Boo Boo, Let's Go Find a Pic-a-nic Basket
My picnic didn't really go anything close to what I'd originally planned. Honestly, my excursion plans rarely do. I think that's just part of the sense of adventure and what you have to embrace about the experiences. Everything usually works out in the end and you probably walk away with some pretty entertaining stories...
In true Iowa form, I knew the weather would be hit-or-miss so I'd initially intended to keep it low key with a backyard or living room floor picnic, but I'd heard on the news the night before that the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation had coordinated a hand blown glass egg hunt in an effort to bring more visitors to the park and to do something fun for the community. I pitched the idea to my friends, Nick and Jen, and we agreed that we'd make the 60-90 minute haul to the park to hunt for eggs with their kids, Aly (18,) and my two best buddies, Liam (5) and Elliot (3.) Both of them somehow chose to bond with me -- a person who just doesn't "get" most young children. It felt like one day, as each of them was just coming into that awareness-of-others phase of tiny human-ness, they gave me a look which conveyed "hey, I like you and you're going to be one of my people from now on." I relate myself being around them to when the Grinch Who Stole Christmas's heart grew three sizes.
I hadn't seen any of them since Christmas so we were beyond overdue for a meetup. With Nick driving, Jen riding co-pilot, me sandwiched between Liam and Elliot in their car seats in the middle row and Aly in the back row, we hit the road. Jen and Aly had a conversation from front to back seat for the first part of the drive, while the boys simultaneously insisted that I warn them whenever I saw a semi truck nearby and helped them keep count of how many we saw. A bit chaotic from the get-go. Once we got there, it turned out that we didn't drive far enough into the park to catch a glimpse of the big obvious "egg hunt this way" signs and ended up in the bland, muddy, goose-filled entrance area. Everyone went with the flow though. Nick and Liam broke off to explore into the woods while Jen, Aly, Elliot and I curved along another path. Elliot took turns holding each of our hands (further melting my icy heart) and taking full advantage of our willingness to be conned into carrying him. We took our time walking around some of the wetland area, looking for eggs that weren't there. We stumbled upon one a goose, whom Elliot named "Mama Goose," as we soon discovered that she had been harboring a nest of two eggs. This was the first time any of us had seen a goose nest in real life and would end up being our only egg sighting of the day. We ran in to two more geese whom Elliot named "Duck" and "98."
Once we met back up with Nick and Liam, we strolled back to the car and got a bit lost while driving through the park to see if there was a better picnic area. We eventually ended up back where we started and decided to eat there since everyone was really hungry by that time. We packed a simple lunch of sandwich supplies, chips and cookies. Some of us braved the cold wind while Liam and Aly decided to eat in the warm car. Nick and Elliot made friends with two persistent geese who wanted to share their lunch. After lunch we drove around more to explore the park and finally stumbled across the area where the glass eggs had been hidden. We explored that portion for a bit, knowing that it would probably be a miracle if we actually found anything at that point in the day.
We decided to check out a toy/hobby store in Des Moines, mostly so Nick could embrace his inner kid, and stopped for ice cream at the legendary Frosty Udder on the way back to Nick's and Jen's place in Oskaloosa. Upon unloading once we got to the house, I discovered that I'd lost my car key and FOB somewhere along the journey or shuffling in and out of the car among the boys' car seats. An expensive and inconvenient mistake. Fortunately, I was able to phone someone at home to have my spare key driven up to me from my place in Ottumwa, 30 minutes away. Ultimately, my day ended by nearly being tackled in a double bear hug from my little guys, including a goodbye peck on the cheek from Elliot.
Long picnic story-short, if you wait for the perfect weather, plan or circumstances, you'll probably be waiting a long time. Do your best to roll with whatever comes your way during your adventures. Take a moment to appreciate the good parts. As Ferris Bueller once said, "life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."