|Connected by the hips, but I know where they are.|
We started small with the harbors along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. Village harbors had fingers stretching out onto a mirror of icy blue. Homes sat on spindly legs; a cloak of green warmed the hills and secured escarpments; lobster pots, most stacked neatly in hills. Rainbows of coiled nets and ropes line the docks.
We moved on to Digby Neck with its beach of basalt, angular, chiseled cuts of rocks defying gravity as they perched on precipices. The most glorious beach filled with the seven of us, my husband and I walking hand in hand along the water’s edge, sharing heartbeats, sharing smiles. The children trailed behind drowning out the crashing of waves upon the shore with their hoops and hollers scaring the birds from the sand.
Peaceful, secure in nature. Wild roses and hemlocks, ocean and brine filling the air with a myriad of fragrance.
Then my husband wanted to see the Tall Ships at Halifax Harbor.
“You can’t come this far and not,” he told me.
This is true, but unfamiliar cities make me nervous with five children. Crowds, buses. In nature, I always know where my children are. They’re never quiet, remember? But the festival, distances, and parking required we take a bus—all seven of us. Of course we needed to scatter throughout the double bus with the accordion middle, a place the children loved to sit. It was impossible to see everyone.
The bus snaked through the city streets, toward the harbor and the ships. At each stop, I’d stand up and scream to the children NOT to get off. A cacophony of languages filled my ears. I watched, unblinkingly, for my children to remain on the bus. Crowds of people pushed them farther away.
Once at the harbor, a world of ships greeted the crowd and my husband told me to relax. I just kept counting children as we boarded ships and disembarked, as we walked along a pier, checked out the stockades, or watched the bagpipers play.
Thousands of smartly dressed sailors told us of fore and aft, port and starboard. We got lost each time—but we got lost together. The children collected the stamps of various ships, marveled at the culture, the music and dance, the stone and clapboard buildings mixed with the ultra-modern skyscrapers of glass and metal. And still I counted.
My husband finally tugged at my arm and broke my concentration.
“They’re fine. We’re both watching,” he reminded me. “Enjoy the sights of the city.”
Halifax is a vibrant city. Sunshine reflected off harbor and skyscrapers that day, filling the hearts of my family. I smiled. The children were older now, the twins—our youngest—were nine. They knew to listen and stay close to their parents. There are two of us watching, just like when we hike in nature.
This experience was much different from the time when the twins were five and we took them to another crowded vacation spot. But sometimes I have trouble letting go of my memories. Does that happen to you? Have you ever worried about your children in a crowded place?