Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I Make My Children Walk the OCA Trail

It's 8:30am on a cloudy Sunday morning smack in the middle of vacation.  I barge into the room where my children are sleeping and briskly wake them up.  "Time to go for a walk!"  I insist.  After several additional rounds of this, they do, in fact, yield to my demand.  Quick to shower, up and out - mainly to beat the impending rain. 

The OCA Trail is a walking/biking trail that follows the Old Croton Aqueduct. The Aqueduct was a large and complex water distribution system constructed for New York City between 1837 and 1842. It brought water, by the force of gravity alone, 41 miles from the Croton River in northern Westchester County into reservoirs in Manhattan, where local water resources had become polluted and inadequate for the growing population of the city.   While the Aqueduct is no longer used to transport water, the trail alongside it is still very much in use by anybody who wants to get a little exercise in the great outdoors.

So why do I make my kids walk the OCA, are you still wondering?  There are many reasons:

Because exercising as a family is as important as doing anything else as a family
.  Our little family of four goes to all kinds of restaurants, hits the movies, travels abroad, sees Broadway shows, plays board games, or simply hangs out at home together.  All good things - but missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: getting out and moving!  For children, it's important to teach them to weave exercise into the fabric of their daily life.  For parents, it is important to remind us to take the time to do what we should - get our blood pumping!

Because in order to respect nature, one needs to commune with it.  When you think about it, one actually needs to be aware something is there in order to care about it.  As we trod along this wooded path, we've come across flowers, deer, snakes, squirrels, and birds.  We've witnessed a beautiful view of the Hudson River and the Palisades across the way.  We've walked the OCA on sunny hot days, very humid days, windy days, and cloudy cold damp days.  All the while, we make little discoveries of cool microcosms co-existing amongst us.  Hiking the trail is a good reminder that we are only a small part contributing to the big picture.

Because when you walk, you talk. It is on one of these many walks, my son convinced me to watch one of his favorite TV shows because he thought I would like it - and he was right.  It is on one of these many walks my daughter shared with us all of her favorite trips that we have taken as a family.  And it is on one of these may walks my husband played Christmas music on his phone thereby reigniting the discussion as to whether or not "Favorite Things" is actually a Christmas song.  Quality time doesn't happen on demand folks, but an environment can be created that is prone to such good stuff!

Well, that about sums up my little explanation to the method of my madness.  Hopefully, we will see some of you (locals) out there joining us!  Happy trails!

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