A Haines Home Companion: On the Trail

IMG_1625 This is how I grew up, pulling myself up drop-offs by roots, swinging like Jane, and bending low to fiddle with the rocks, how time chisels, builds, or crumbles them according to environment. A sucker for fossils and micah, I’ve added rocks from special places to my jewelry box, not like diamonds from tiffany’s but rather like my smoothed-down stony crystal from the shores of Inish Boffin.

Foothills of Appalachia did it to me, arrowheads and coral upturned in the yard, shark tooth from the ceiling of caves.


So I guess this qualifies me as a good mother for these 4 boys who seem straight made of apples and dirt. Seth, too, was made for this and carries a flashlight all the time. He’s ready to see. The boys found a cave, and Seth said they could go in. Isaac said it glistened in there. He saw no bats.


I carried the baby on my back as much as I could. He fought it, wanted to walk the tall edge of the trail like his brothers. So Seth took him on his chest. Titus practically dangled off the world, and I wasn’t afraid for him a bit.

The three big boys were the ones bouncing in confident circles at cliffs over the water. I kept saying, “Watch your feet. Stay on the path. Make sure your feet are firm!” One did a little sideways karate jump directly after my repeating that phrase, and he got grounded from legos for a day.


When we reached the top, I was winded. Couples were kissing there but stopped to take a celebratory photo for us. The boys pulled out snacks from their backpacks and guzzled water. Dark was coming, so we skid down as fast as we could after standing and inhaling the higher air a minute.


When we got to the bottom, it was so dark that the trail disappeared.

Metaphors are part of our eternal scheme. Remember the path, the light, the feet standing firm. Listen to His voice. He’s telling you to go whether to the right or the left.


  1. i think we would be friends if we could….but i need to have a talk with seth about that hat. #yankeesfan

  2. I. Love. This.

    For so many reasons. But especially the wiggling boy on your back.

  3. that picture! my friends!

  4. What a beautiful post… and what a precious family you have. I had to laugh at your son being grounded from Legos for a day for doing the little karate kick just after you told him to keep his feet firm. Very familiar indeed. And my heart perked up, ears wide open, when I read your last few lines… “Remember the path, the light, the feet standing firm. Listen to His voice. He’s telling you to go whether to the right or the left.” Thank you for the reminder.

  5. What a great day! We would get on grandly. Daughter of a geologist and mama of a fossil hound, I spend as much time as possible in the dirt, along the creek bed and searching for signs of seams that hold treasures.

    Gorgeous picture, too!
    Kim recently posted..scale

  6. This reminds me of so many walks on so many trails with my six younger brothers. I’m the mama of two little girls so our days are filled with more twirls then karate kicks.

    The metaphor is beautiful and needed for today. And I love the picture of all of you!! I’ve been praying for your Titus, he’s a similar age to my littlest so I have lots of reminders to pray.
    Breanne :: This Vintage Moment recently posted..On Being An Awesome Mom

  7. LOVE, love this, Amber. A photo essay – something different from you and it is sweet. Your family is so lovely. Love that you had an adventure together and that Titus got to hang out over the world, safely ensconced in daddy’s care. Hugs to each of you.
    Diana Trautwein recently posted..Learning, Un-Learning, Re-Learning: Mothering

  8. “Metaphors are part of our eternal scheme. ” My goodness. Yes.
    I had an experience last summer up in the Smokey Mountains that rings similar. I came unprepared for anything other than snacking and enjoying our hike. Then my older son was stung by a hornet. Then a man appeared out of nowhere with an arsenal of first aid ointments and help. Then he appeared two more times in various places around Gatlinburg.
    Then I thought of metaphors too. :) And like you, I wrote a post about it. How can you not? xoxo

  9. So glad you’re back-love how you weave your story and prick this heart of mine…

  10. my family lives nestled in the smoky mountains, and while i am currently in WI, I can always feel those uneven rocks under my feet, feel the dust pick up and carry me. Your words took me there today too, so thankful.
    tara pohlkotte recently posted..Dreamcatcher

  11. You guys are so stinkin fun!!!

  12. Cheryl C G says:

    So much like our family quite a few years ago! Except we have 3 girls and 1 boy. We hiked with our handicapped daughter in a backpack and then in a wheelchair on so many vacations, at so many different places. Places where wheelchairs should never go! Even when my husband and I have had an occasional weekend to ourselves, we always try to do some hiking, usually at a national park.As the years have passed, we have slowed down. Now instead of 4-6 mile loops we look for those that say Easy or 1-2 miles. Makes me nostalgic, but yet wondering where God will take us next. Exciting, isn’t it?

  13. Your family is gorgeous!

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