Letters to our sons | July

***I am so thankful to be a part of this blog circle "Letters to our Sons" with so many amazing photographers and moms.  In honor of our love for our little boys, we are posting a monthly image(s) along with a corresponding, heartfelt letter.  After reading my post, please click HERE to continue around the circle, starting with the talented Jill Cassara

My dearest Cash,

You are a native New Yorker.  A Harlem boy who loves the city, its pulse and its subway.  But you also love the opportunity to get away which you and I had recently, this time by rail.  Early Saturday morning Daddy and Grey dropped us off at Penn Station to catch the 7:15 train upstate to Woodstock.  We were going to spend the weekend with my college friend who recently moved back east and her four year-old son, Maceo.  The weekend forecast called for 80 degree and sunny with zero humidity - perfect weather for our adventure.  

Riding the "big" Amtrak train set you on cloud nine and lucky for us, a kind stranger seated nearby told us which side would offer the best view of the Hudson River.  After propping up the foot rest to use as your seat, you quickly pulled out your toy trains.  We rode through upper Manhattan into the Bronx and eventually into the countryside.  "Look Mom! Look!," you'd say, eyes wide open with amazement each time you saw another bridge, a boat on the river or a freight train passing by on the other side of it.  Even the woman seated next to us took note, leaning in to whisper, "I remember when my son took his first Amtrak ride.  It was so exciting."

Meghan and Maceo picked us up from the train station, and naturally the first thing we did was head to the swimming hole.  I've been to this same swimming hole many times with Meghan throughout our long friendship, but this was the first time we were there with our sons.

In all honesty, I wasn't sure how you would feel about getting into the water Cash.  You are my city boy who, for the most part, doesn't like to get dirty or wet or sandy or slimy.  But to my surprise you grabbed your new friend by the hand and headed down from the road to the swimming hole.  You took your shirt off and your shoes and joined Maceo in what all boys love to do - throw rocks. 

It wasn't long before you got your feet wet.  Maceo, the consummate aquaphile, was first to get in the chilly water and you soon followed.  Down to your striped skivvies (before eventually changing into your bathing suit) you were splashing and laughing with your new friend.  It was a joy to watch you ease into your environment: filling up buckets with rocks, drawing shapes in the mud with sticks and scavenging for bugs along the fallen tree trunks.  Meghan and I sat close by in our lawn chairs, our toes wiggling in the water, listening to the sounds of life with boys.


{Click on images below to view full scale} 

Afterwards we went into the town of Woodstock for some ice-cream.  You ordered your favorite: vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.  It was your second one since the first one you dropped face down on the floor.  But who cares; it was summer and we were having fun.  After you and Maceo finished, you guys went looking for more bugs in the tall grasses.  Maceo managed to get a ladybug onto his finger and I think you were quite impressed by the whole thing.  With your propensity to squash insects and bugs with brute force in the city, I was actually amazed by your forbearance.  I think on some level you knew this was a special sighting (they do say ladybugs bring good luck), transforming into a most docile, studious observer.    

Though the highlights of our weekend getaway were many, these were some of my favorites:

* You and Maceo running down the streets of Woodstock with balloons, chasing your shadows and laughing hysterically.

* The two of you taking a piss in the great outdoors (your first!) and yes, more than once.

* Waking you up to see dozens of fireflies lighting up the backyard.

There is no doubt this was our special trip upstate together. You got dirty, went barefoot most of the time, and played with Maceo with wild abandon - what could be better than that? 

So my dear son, my wish is that in your lifetime you continue to be inspired, to test the waters chilly as they may be, find the beauty in nature around you, get (uncomfortably) slimy and grimy - and most importantly, do it with that brilliant smile of yours!

I love you, always & forever,