Hiking with my girl.

The weather has been beautiful, which means 'tis the season for hiking excursions at the Cedar Ridge Preserve.  Oh, I so want to be a Colorado-livin' baby-wearin' mountain mama.  My friend Sharon moved to Denver recently and gets to be one for real!  Lucky.

So, here we are just outta the car, my Boba carrier secured.  As you can tell, I'm a wee bit more excited than Luci Belle...

It was a lovely, warm day.  So picturesque as spring was beginning to burst onto the scene...

My first view of the trail always causes a huge exhale.  Everyone should have green, wooded space nearby, in my humble opinion. 

Off we went...

The forest was very purty.

We saw local treasures like Trout Lilies and Texas succulents.

Then, I felt a little less bobbing on my back and realized that my passenger had nodded off to sleep!  Don't you just love toddler drool between the bra straps?  I do.

I hiked a little longer, and she awoke in time for a stop in the butterfly garden for a snack. 

We had a tasty snack of homemade almond butter, apples, banana, and dried apricots.  Well, mama liked the apricots.  I offered them to her, and she said, "NO!  Yucky!"  {Dried apricots dipped in almond butter = even better!}

Yes, apples dipped in nut butter are the perfect end to any hiking excursion.  Don't you think?

Another beautiful day.

Apparently I'm on a continuing search for beauty here in this big city, and I'm going to find it all! After soaking up the Cedar Ridge Preserve, I recruited my friend Bre {and her baby Jack} to journey with me to the Trinity River Audubon Center to see what we would find there.  It was open wide and centered around a lake.  Very Walden-esque. 

Here we are with our koala babies...

It was rather windy and a bit overcast so we didn't stay too long, but I'd love to return on a beautiful sunny spring day to enjoy the wooded forest path.  It seemed the perfect place to curl up with a journal, waiting for birds and butterflies to make their appearances.

And the best part? Right before leaving, we stopped in the nature center's "Art251" gift shop to peruse the shelves of gifts and handmade items by local artisans.  While I was swooning over a set of large handpainted bird postcards and a baby onesie that said "Small Footprint," Bre called me over: "Look! There's my photo!" Indeed, in the back of the shop, next to a display of locally roasted Oak Cliff Coffee, was a clipped article about our store, Urban Acres, from a past issue of The Dallas Morning News.  The article shows a photo of Bre working the counter while pregnant with Jack.  It was encouraging to meet the director of the store who knew about us and to connect with other like-minded folks in Dallas.

I didn't leave the store empty handed.  In a back corner, there was a display of handmade clay plaques with inspirational sayings on them. I dug through the pile and knew immediately this was the one I wanted:

It's now displayed on my kitchen windowsill where, amidst chaos and disarray and a nonstop agenda, I can always stop and remember - it is another beautiful day.  And I must continue to search for and find the beauty all around me.


Where we should be.

"It is simple. We are where we should be, doing what we should be doing. Otherwise we would be somewhere else, doing something else."

~Richard Stine

"The smell of mulch is good for my soul!" I said aloud at the moment my feet touched the soft mulched pathways.  A bit overdramatic perhaps, but a typical statement for this idealist. I had returned to my beloved Cedar Ridge Preserve after a very long time, and it was good. Very good.

From the moment I awoke today, I've felt almost an audible call from God to get outside and commune with Him in nature, to take my little girl with me to play and explore and enjoy all the gifts that are waiting outside our front door.  I've been wanting to go back to the Preserve since having had a baby but was waiting for warm enough weather.  Then, the warm weather came {80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky today!}, but none of my girlfriends were available to come with me - one had plans with family, one was working feverishly on a book proposal, another was in line at the Apple Store for a new iPad.  But God said, "Just come!"  So it was me, and Belle in the Boba carrier.

I need nature.  This is something I know very surely about myself now.

On the short 15 minute drive to Cedar Ridge, I felt myself getting excited, as if I were about to be reuinted with an old friend.  And I guess in a way I was; I couldn't wait to introduce my daughter to this place that was a refuge for me, whose trails were worn many times by my running shoes before she was in my belly.  The sign at the entrance had changed, but everything else was just as I'd remembered it. 

Here we are at the entrance - this child is so utterly happy when she is outdoors, and I couldn't be more proud. 

Let's go!

I nestled Luci Belle into the carrier on my back and set my feet to the trails.  The trees waved and creaked overhead just like always.  So many treasures awaited us, even though spring has yet to bloom in full form...

By the time we came to the clear stream that flows under the wooden suspension bridge, the little wiggly pack on my back was ready to be free.  So I carried her down to the sandy edge and dangled her inflate-a-feet in the water.  At first she jumped at the chilliness and then started bouncing up and down with glee.

Crimson berries seemed strategically placed just at the spot where you needed a bit of color, a break from forest brown.  A strip of blue sky peeked through the branches of a Bradford Pear in full bloom.

And at the end, we made a quick stop in the Butterfly Garden and actually found one alighting on the branch of a Cherry Blossom tree!

The entire time, we saw only three people: two passersby on the trails {who both grabbed my daughter's chubby ankles for a little tug}, and a volunteer gardener named Sharon who was vigorously pruning an Autumn Sage.  When we got in the car, I felt refreshed.  So refreshed.  It really is simple.  The Preserve was undoubtedly the "somewhere" we were meant to be today, enjoying nature the "something" we were meant to do.