Our family grew, again, suddenly one Friday morning in the Spring of 2013, when our 2-year-old son arrived on our doorstep. We had met him just six days earlier, at a playground in another part of the state.
We’d fallen in love with him on a Saturday. Told ourselves we weren’t crazy on Sunday. Made a lot of phone calls on Monday. Signed a stack of papers on Tuesday. Had a second “play date” on Wednesday. Rearranged bedroom furniture and bought out a large percentage of the “boy things” at TJ Maxx and Homegoods on Thursday. And, just like that it was Friday and we had a son!
Years before, when we found out that we wouldn’t be able to have children of our own, it seemed like everyone in my life with a uterus was pregnant. I would call my Mom, choking back tears, and reassure her that I was fine, saying, “It’s okay. We’ll adopt. We don’t have to have a newborn. We can wait a few years if we have to. We’re still young.”
Little did I know, we did not have long to wait. Just a few months later, we were pacing nervously around a hospital coffee shop, awaiting the birth of our daughter. And, in less than a two year span, we were a family of four!
It had happened so fast. Our son’s loving foster parents showed up slightly early to deliver him to his “forever” family, said their tearful goodbyes and slowly pulled away from the curb.
There I stood dazed, wondering where my husband was, as I watched our euphoric 22-month-old daughter chasing her new “big” brother around the back deck…
My husband missed the entire event. He got caught up for a minute at work, and when he called to say he was almost home and ask if the foster parents were there, I was still in shock. I simply said “No” and hung up the phone.
When he ran in a few minutes later and started pouring himself a glass of milk, he almost fell over when our TWO two-year-olds came barreling through the backdoor, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Perfectly in sync, they kicked off their shoes and hopped back out onto the deck, two happy little frogs, chirping “ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.”
I looked over and saw my husband leaning against the kitchen island, watching them with tears in his eyes. He looked at me stunned and asked “What are we going to do with them?”
Though I’m pretty sure it was a rhetorical question, I said “Let’s take them to the Washington Town Park.”
And, that’s exactly what we did!
Since then the Washington Town Park has become our go-to place. It’s the perfect park for families with kids of all ages. There are wide open spaces for running, pea stone paths for strolling, fire pits for grilling, a pavilion for picnicking, swings of all sizes, a modern play structure, merry-go-round, ride-on toys and slides, not to mention full-court basketball, soccer, baseball and giant sledding hill. The pavilion even has electrical outlets for cell/tablet/laptop recharging and parents looking to get some work done while kids play.
Another favorite family adventure is exploring the Washington stretch of the Appalachian Trail. There are two easy access points on your way to or from a visit to Washington Town Park. They are located on Pittsfield Road near the Hinsdale-Washington town line and on Washington Mountain Rd in Washington.
The trail leading south from the parking area on Pittsfield Road will entertain young hikers with an obstacle course like stretch of rustic boardwalks and bridges, but after a mile or so the trail takes a steep downhill turn that may be too much for inexperienced hikers and cautious parents.
The Upper Goose Pond stretch of the trail (accessible from Washington Mountain Rd) offers a longer, more evenly graded trek south to the six-bunk Upper Goose Pond cabin, complete with outhouse, porch and tent platforms. The cabin is set up for through hikers only, but it’s still fun for kids to check out. There is also a canoe available for hikers to borrow for short-term use.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Each year, on the Friday before Halloween, the residents of Washington host the Annual John FX Keator Memorial Pumpkin Walk in the town park. If your family has not been, mark it on your calendar! The early trick-or-treating opportunity, giant bonfire, hay rides, fire-side snacks and hundreds of eerily lit, expertly carved jack-o-lanterns lining the park’s pathways, will keep you coming back for years to come.