Turkey meatloaf with red pepper coulis

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

When my kids were younger, we always spent time outside. We played in the park pushing them on swings, standing at the bottom of slides to catch them, or helping them climb up to the top of the jungle gym.

When we lived in California, we visited a big beautiful park. We called it, “the muddy park,” because the first time we went there it had just rained. The name stuck. At the muddy park, we spent the first 20 minutes finding a walking stick for each of us. Then, Claud would walk in front and we would follow behind trekking through the wilderness. We’d collect pine cones or walk across boulders in a creek. Sometimes, we lay down in the grass and watched the clouds drift past and shout out when we could see an image in the cloud.

Then, the kids became teenagers. They didn’t want to do anything like this with us anymore. Las Vegas does have a special place called Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and I have tried to get us all to go hiking there several times.

Claud just came home from a long trip away from us. He was feeling the need for some serious family time. He longed for that feeling of togetherness. He asked if I would like to go hiking at Red Rock. Huh? I stopped in my tracks. “Are you serious?” I asked. He was.

Daphne was OK with the idea but had to spend some time finding just the right outfit. Jack, on the other hand, was not pleased. Claud and I ignored him and told them to get into the car. Jack, literally, complained the entire way up there. It was all we could do not to climb into the back seat and tape his mouth shut. “This is so stupid. Why couldn’t I stay home? I hate hiking. I hate Red Rock,” he moaned.

It was 75 degrees, with a light breeze outside. The sun shone onto our faces and heads and shoulders. The red rocks towered gloriously all around. We started hiking on a trail when Jack said, “I don’t want to stay on a trail. I want to climb rocks.” “OK, lets do it,” Claud replied. They climbed up and in between steep rocks until they reached the summit of the mountain we were next to. I stayed on the trail and watched while I hiked up. I could hear every word they said as if I were standing beside them.

Once I reached the top of my trail, I found a place to sit on a boulder and watched them across the way. Daphne brought the camera and snapped some incredible pictures. I could hear their voices, “look at this lizard,” Jack said; “Can you believe I climbed down that huge rock?” Daphne asked. They breathed in the fresh air. They were getting vitamin D from the sunshine. They had no cell phone service. They were exercising.

Finally, Claud said they needed to head down to meet me. “Oh no!” Jack shouted. “I don’t want to go. Let’s go to the next mountain. She won’t mind. I want to stay.” He lamented. Claud could have said, “I told you so.” But, instead, he decided to be happy that he was enjoying himself. He told Jack we can start doing this regularly and they could pick a different mountain to climb each time.

We hiked the rest of the trail together back to the car. Everyone seemed more peaceful. It’s so good for all of us to experience nature together. Sometimes, you need to force your kids to do things they don’t believe will be fun. It’s so important to get out in nature together, especially when they are teenagers and wanting so much to be separated from their parents.

When we got home, I made some turkey meatloaf for Claud’s dinner. I thought it would be nice for him to have a home cooked comfort food meal. Claud told me I should make a red pepper coulis for it. That sounded good to me. This red pepper coulis can be served with any kind of meat or fish. As we all sat down to eat, Jack and Daphne recapped our adventures at Red Rock. Claud and I looked at each other and smiled. It seems as though resigning, “ourselves to the influence of the earth,” brought us closer together, even if only for one day.

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