We’ve been trying to take M. for long walks in the morning. It started one morning when she got up at 5:00 AM, took a nap from 7:30 until 9:00 and I was faced with a long, hot day in the house with little to do. I put her in the stroller and took off for a 45 minute walk. It worked so well we went for another 50 minute walk that night, and an hour walk the next morning. When your wife is working for 24 hours, you find little ways to shorten the day!

M. seems to love these walks, sitting back silently, more often than not, and taking in all the details. When she sees a dog or cat, she’ll point and jabber about it until it is out of her sight. She keeps a sippy cup in her hands or lap for periodic drinks. I like to think the fresh air, the smells of trees and grass and flowers, the views of nature are stimulating the little parts of her mind that Baby Einstein DVDs, books, and CDs can never reach.

Today was an especially nice morning for a walk. It was dark, foggy, and misty here. Dark enough that the nighttime crickets were still chirping away happily in the trees and grass. The mist was light enough that you only felt it from your forward motion. One of M.’s favorite summer games is to run through sprinklers with us. Periodically, she would open her palms to the sky and say something in M.ese which I believe can be translated to, “Now where is that sprinkler I keep feeling and when is daddy going to run me through it?” We walked along two rather busy streets for part of our journey. I think a lot of people smile whenever they see a baby out for a walk with its parents. But for some reason I think the smiles are a little bigger when they see a baby alone with its dad. It’s unexpected, a little unusual, and extra cute, I guess. Or maybe that’s just me imagining that. It does seem like pretty much everyone is smiling at us when we can see people driving past us, though.

The walks are great for me, too. Since I’ve become lazy in fatherhood, they get me off my ass and on my feet for a little while. I point things out to M. that I think should be of interest, but often let her take things in on her own. I slip into a state not dissimilar from when I was training for a marathon four years ago. I think about things I need to do, things I’d like to write about, things I need to research. I also like to wonder about how these walks will affect M.’s development. Years later, will she love taking long, quiet walks to clear her mind? Will she become a nature lover because of the mornings she spent in her stroller rolling through the neighborhood?

One last detail. It was the first day of school for the Carmel district today. As we approached a corner in our neighborhood I could hear a kid screaming. When we reached the corner, I saw the flash of a camera and a five -year-old dressed in a nice shirt and corduroy pants running from his parents. Looks like someone was getting shipped off to school for the first time and he wasn’t quite ready to give up lazy summer days around the house.