Loony, insane, kook—words synonymous with those lacking good sense. On occasion I’ve accused my wife Katrina of possessing some of these attributes. Sometimes it’s for good reason, but at other times I’m keenly aware that it’s just because God gifted her differently than He did me, much to the benefit of us all.
In his infamous poem “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost typifies the choices we make along life’s path, knowing that some of the forks in the road will take us to destinations from which we may never return. Some of those choices will be good, and some bad, but at the end of the poem he relishes in the idea that taking the road less travelled is what makes all the difference.
Several years ago we took a turn off of the beaten path and with God’s guidance and provisions built the house in which we currently live. Shortly after moving into our new home, Katrina was working steadily taking care of Bradley, Hannah, and Holly, ages 4, 2 1/2, and 15 months, respectively. When she wasn’t caring for our three youngest, she was tending to the needs of our four older children as well. Did I mention the fact that she was on the verge of giving birth to our youngest son Joshua? Needless to say, she was a very busy lady.
If there ever is a path to follow, Katrina finds a way to quickly abandon it and set her feet on ground on which no foot has trod. On one unseasonably warm day in November, Katrina struck out up the mountain leading Bradley and Hannah as she carried Holly atop her very large belly full of Joshua. They had a time of it through the woods, cutting their own path as they worked their way up the steep incline to the top of the hill where our city park resides. Emerging at the top, they played at the playground for awhile, and then returned home for lunch and a restful afternoon. After learning of Katrina’s adventurous day me and my practicality reminded her of all the things that could have happened to her with three toddlers and one more virtually in the birth canal.
Now, four and a half years later, Katrina still sets her feet to walking up the mountain except now it is with our five smallest children, as well as Sammy the wonder dog in tow. The city has been working aggressively cutting a nice path through the woods to pave a walking trail that will pass a few hundred feet behind our house. This new path has made a nice trail for Katrina and the kids to walk on instead of cutting through the woods.
Summer has arrived with the vengeance this year, bringing with it drought-like conditions and heat advisories as the temperatures get hotter and hotter. Undeterred by the sweltering heat, Katrina struck out the other day as early in the morning as possible with five kids, a dog, a stroller, and all the water they could carry. They were on a mission—the playground at the top.
With the new trail still a work in progress Katrina and the kids had to watch out for construction work as a bulldozer operator was busy working on the trail. The stroller didn’t fair too well on the rough surface, so Katrina had to resort to leaning Olivia backward and pulling the stroller, which resulted in some dragging as well. As they passed the guy on the bulldozer, he noticed Katrina dragging the stroller and said, “You’re kinda sleddin’ along there, aren’t ya?” as Katrina cut ruts in the shale path with the stroller wheels that weren’t turning quite enough.
After an encounter or two of having to jump out of the way of a passing dump truck, as well as a couple of water bottles later, they arrived at the trailhead where it entered the park. The playground was a welcome sight to Katrina and her crew of beaten walkers. Everyone was relieved to take a break from hiking. The shade seemed to perk their spirits, and they began looking for a pool of water in the nearly dry creek to let Sammy have a drink. That was a hopeless endeavor, so Bradley used his Frisbee that he had brought along and poured some water out of one of the bottles for Sammy to enjoy, which he did immensely.
There was not much air moving up on the hill that day, but everyone enjoyed the self-generated breeze while swinging, singing as they passed back and forth. After the swinging was over they began growing weary of the stale heat, so Bradley suggested that they ask God to bring them all a breeze to cool them off and give them some relief. Bradley was very glad to know that God was listening, because shortly after he prayed for a breeze, God brought them a very nice gust of wind which cooled them off nicely.
Now that they were worn out from playing at the playground, Katrina and the kids all refreshed themselves with more water and began making their way toward the trailhead, anxious to get down the mountain before the day got any hotter. With lots of downhill stretches of road ahead of them it was smooth sailing compared to the hike up. They arrived safely back home to the comfort of air conditioning, well before time for the lunch bell to ring.
If I had been at home that day and it would have been up to me, the sweltering walk in the heat might have never happened. Had it not been for Katrina having such a sense of adventure, our children would likely be holed up in the house listening to each other’s fat cells grow while they watch TV and play video games. Now that I think of it though, somehow she would have conned me into strolling out into the sauna with them.
With my black and white view of the world and my usual overdose of common sense, I occasionally need a nudge in the opposite direction. I suppose it even keeps some of the fat cells from growing on me as well. While I sometimes accuse Katrina of being a kook for wanting to do things that I would not normally want to do myself, it sure leads to an adventurous life that the kids and I would have otherwise not experienced.
Thanks for the lunacy, Katrina.
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, June 26 – July 5, 2010.