The Wild

The Next Family

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Still riding the high from my weekend away with The Husband, I packed another bag.  This time, it held swimsuits, goggles, sunscreen, hats, tiny plastic, pastel-colored ponies, a stack of Scooby-Doo DVDs.  We were headed to New Mexico to spend five days with my family.  Just me and the kids.

The Husband stayed at home with visions of take-out Chinese dancing in his head.

Going home to New Mexico means going home to my Mom and my Step-mom and the house my father built.  It means going home to my brother and his wife and their daughter.  It means going home to the biggest, bluest sky and the whitest, fluffiest clouds.  It means that my lips will crack from the sudden assault of dry air and my eyes will feel parched from bright sun.   Going home to New Mexico means I will eat green chili and drink Tecate and kick red dust up with the toe of my shoe.

No matter how long I stay away, New Mexico always feels like home.

To my kids, New Mexico, is “the wild.”  When we visit, they get dirty and forget about a bath.  They wade in the stream that runs behind my Step-mom’s house and follow animal tracks in the arroyo mud at my Mom’s.  On this trip, we saw bear scat and the big round paw marks of a bobcat.  My son climbed a fallen tree and got an ankle full of cactus prickles.  My daughter trailed big, black beetles and picked wild paintbrush flowers.  We saw four different kinds of hummingbirds and in the evening, bats swooped low and silent around us in the yard.

For two nights, we camped beside Navajo Lake and the kids climbed huge sandstone formations and swam in the cool water.  They leaned over the dock to see sunfish and carp darting just below the surface and learned to cut a worm into thirds to bait a hook.  My son drove a boat and my daughter and her cousin paddled through muddy water like little frogs.  I let them run wild.  I let them walk by themselves down to the beach (though I watched them carefully from above.)  We sent them on errands to the dock for ice and ten-cent bubble gum and watched as they walked farther and farther away.  They felt powerful in their little group of three. They are growing comfortable in the wild.  They are growing brave and confident and certain.  My trust in them helps them grow.  It is a wonderful thing to see.

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