Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Passion for Treasure Hunting

So often it seems to me that modern mother-daughter relationships are doomed to simply surviving each other. Books, movies, even friends' relationships seem to be full of aggravated tolerance. I find myself looking at my own sweet daughter and praying that I don't annoy her some day. Praying that we don't spend her teen years only tolerating each other. Praying that I can be as patient and understanding as my own mother was. Praying for a relationship like today's guest shares with her daughter.

Taylor is a freshman in college. Leslye is alone for the first time in 18 years. Spread Your Wings is their blog, and how they share a piece of each day together, across the miles. Lucky us, they share it with the world. I've long admired Leslye's mothering style and dreamed of an adult relationship with Sloane like she shares with Taylor. Today she shares her secret. Thank God. ~ Relyn

a little nest we found, March 2009

When Relyn asked me to be a guest blogger, I was very touched to think that she thought enough of our blog to ask me to write on hers. When I read further and saw she wanted me to write on my passion. This scared me a little bit. I enjoy a lot of different things and feel that I am passionate about them. But, I have never really thought I felt "strongly" passionate about any one thing. Plus, I certainly don't express myself as eloquently as you all do. I kept thinking, "What am I passionate about?" or "What makes me the most happy at the moment"? And that's when I knew the answer clearly: precious time with my daughter.

My daughter is a freshman in college, which made me an empty-nester this year. Many of you may not be able to fully comprehend what that means. I know I didn't understand what it would mean to me many years ago. I am a single mother and have been since Taylor was 2, so it's just been the two of us for a very long time. When she went off to college I knew it would be very lonely at home. I can actually say that I feel like I've adapted very well. I cherish the time spent with her even more. So, I would say my passion right now would be making the most of the time we have together.

I can't title this post "A Passion for My Daughter". Every parent is passionate about their children. Since we have a mother/daughter blog, I will share with you a passion that Taylor and I share together. We are passionate about our "photo adventures" or what started out, in her younger years, as the search for treasures...

Taylor, 1996 - Taylor, 2009

Taylor always loved the outdoors and collecting treasures from nature. When she was just 4 years old I started taking her camping. We would go camping many times during the summer and into the autumn. It was our time to go on nature walks and find special treasures together. We would set up the items like a still life and draw them together. We always did a lot of crafts while camping. She loved spending the day in the sun, hiking to a waterfall, or just hanging out at the campsite playing in the dirt with the little matchbox cars I played with as a child. Taylor loved wading at the waters edge - always finding something of interest that she would want to take home with her. I had a special box that she kept these treasures in - treasures from nature. Beauty that sometimes only a child holds so dear - a feather, a rock, an acorn, a seashell, a stick that struck her fancy.

Taylor finds a geocache box, 2002

When she was around 12, we discovered a new way of getting out in nature. We started the great adventure of geocaching. What a wonderful activity this was for us. If you have never done this I highly recommend it. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers outdoors, called geocaches, and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.

We really became addicted to it. It is such a thrilling challenge - breaking the code for the clue and then using the GPS to find your way to the treasure. We found caches everywhere from "Atlantis" in the Caribbeans, all the way to a state park in Canada and many, many places in between. Some of them would take us hours to find while others would be very easy. When and if you find the box, you log in with your code name, date and time of find, and a little bit about the experience. If you take something from the box, you leave something behind. Taylor's code name was Painted Pony and she named me CurlyQ because of my hair.

I wish I had time and room to tell you of all of our adventures, or at least paint a better picture of it. But, believe me, we have so many incredible memories. Geocaching took us to so many places that we would have never ventured otherwise. We had a big box at home filled with "treasures" that were usually dollar store items which meant nothing to us except "I found it". That sense of satisfaction and accomplishment is so important to a young child.

abandoned shack, Daufuskie Island, SC by Taylor

As Taylor grew older, friends became more important. I feared that time with mom would become non-existent or certainly not something she would look forward to. We found another activity that took us out on adventures together: searching out the perfect photo - a treasure in itself. These adventures were no longer simple nature walks looking for pretty flowers or a hidden box. Taylor now founds beauty in the decay, in unexpected places. These things got her excited. What might she find hidden beneath all the rubble? Maybe not my favorite subject matter, but if it made her happy and she saw something of beauty in it all... then, I was going to look for it too. Now instead of looking for a treasure in a hidden box, we look for hidden treasure in old abandoned homes and buildings. There is nothing we enjoy more than heading out with the GPS in the car now, instead of hand-held. Taking the back roads, finding something of interest, pulling over and exploring it.

AME Church near Burkittsville, Maryland, built in 1870 by freed slaves

I have remind her to be cautious, but there is some sort of thrill about it all. Carefully peaking into a abandoned building, and seeing an old piano and church benches. Finding out that it was an 1870 AME church built by freed slaves. Creeping down the rotting staircase and seeing " He is In Us ALL" written on the wall. Then realizing we are in a church that was part of the Blair Witch Project. So creepy to me, but she is so intrigued. We stay.

Taylor has taken some awesome photos in these abandoned locations. We go home with "treasures" in the camera. If we still used film cameras we would have a box filled to the brim with prints (treasures) that make her happy and satisfied - indicative of a day worthwhile, filled with adventure and excitement for more.

AME church interior, 2007

For a time our passion was camping. Then it was very much for geocaching. Now it is for our photo adventures. Our passions change from year to year. Those treasures we gathered are memories we will always share together and carry in our hearts. Treasured forever. The one thing that will never change is my passion for my daughter. As sappy as it sounds, I can't think of anything else that I am so strongly passionate about. ~ Leslye

All words and photos by Leslye and Taylor of Spread Your Wings.


ELK said...

here's to mothers
and daughters! ELK

smith kaich jones said...

As a fellow sometime geocacher,I have to agree with you about the magic of "just finding it" - we take Michael's grandchildren out to do this every summer, when they are out of school, and they bug us constantly for more. We are also quite big on inventing other treasure hunts of our own - poems written, and they must figure them out. So wonderful, and so much fun for us all. I know they will outgrow this phase & enter another, but I hope it instills in them the desire to look, to see what might be there, what may be hidden.

Lovely, lovely post. Thank you!

:) Debi

beth said...

what a beautiful and fun post !!
my daughter is also in college and that does make for a different life no matter what anyone says !!!

she has never been geocaching, but my husband and I have been...we were terrible at it by the it was always a corporate activity while on retreats...once in hawaii and once in aruba...with only 4 hours to play....and aruba was 100 plus degrees and in hawaii it was raining....

and the old structures for pictures...that's my favorite thing too ALWAYS....actually I just posted about that the other day !!!

is your daughter going to school for photography by any chance ?

thanks for a little look into your lives :)

Miko's Girl said...

What a wonderful post...I loved how you showed the progression of you activities with your daughter as she grew up. I'm impressed that you, a single mom, took your daughter camping - those things certainly fall more under my husband's pervue. My husband bought me a GPS this Christmas as I am perennially lost. As the weather warms, we are hoping to try geocaching. Thanks for your post - it is a bit of a guidepost to maintaining a relationship with your daughter through the various stages of her life.

robin bird said...

i read this history of your passion for time with Taylor with such delight leslye! i visit your blog and get the snippets but this is like a chapter in the book of your on-going life together. i really hung on every word. what mother doesn't want to hear the story of lasting friendship between mother and daughter? thank you :)
i have to tell you that fist photograph just makes me swoon with love. it is exquisite!

Derrick said...

Being able to share an interest, pastime or passion with a loved one must surely make the pleasure even greater. Leslye and Taylor are very fortunate.

Anonymous said...

For Leslie: How wonderful that you share these adventures and interests with your daughter, even when you do not exactly like every (spooky) moment. These will be memories you will both treasure.

For Relyn: My mother passed on a love of books and trees and a great sense of humor. We could always share a good laugh. Nevertheless, I gave her quite a time when I was a teen, picking arguments over all sorts of things and getting much too worked up. She would argue back, and sometimes things would get heated. But we both felt SAFE through the arguing phase, and my later crazy choices with clothes and hair and lifestyles. We knew that underneath there was solid love. When I got older we got along much better, and grew very close again. Do not worry to much about the teen years. If you can get through them, the happy times will come back!

Christina said...

I love that you and your daughter share. What exciting adventures the two of you have had.I feel the love bounce off of your words. So beautiful! You have inspired me to open new doors for my daughter and I. The camera tends to catch the memories perfectly.


Anonymous said...

What a sweet post's fun to learn more about you and have a better vision of your life with Taylor.

Thanks too to Relyn for inviting you to share

jae said...

What a lovely post. I know I wonder and worry if the time will come when I am not the hero and best friend to my daughter that I am now. I have wanted to try geocaching and this makes it sound like the perfect family adventure...beautiful.

SE'LAH... said...

I am in awe. I love that bird nest. We found one a few weeks ago but we left it in the tree in hopes that mama bird will return to it this spring.

TheChicGeek said...

Relyn, that was such a beautiful post. I'm blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my daughter. As they get older we have to have patience and an open heart to understand them, but I don't think that there could be anything more special than the relationship a mom has with her daughter.
I loved the pictures in this post too :)

spread your wings said...

Thank you, Relyn, for inviting me to post on your beautiful blog. I have to say it was a little intimidating at first because you have such talented readers, but then I relaxed and just let it go.
And Relyn, just to be clear - I'm sure I do annoy my daughter some of the time. : )

To all of you, I appreciate your kind comments.

Elk, thank you. Yes! here's to mothers and daughters! and friends like you.

Debi, I think that, no matter the age, we get a rush out of finding that special treasure that we think others might not "see" - to have to work for makes it that much more exciting.

Beth, wow that house you found - Taylor would have been thrilled. Isn't it sort of funny how we are so drawn to places like that?
Yes, Taylor started out with a photography major but has changed it to Graphic Design - I think a more general, wiser choice

Miko's Girl, camping is such a fun way to relax and live simply for a few days. I posted on my AutumnSun blog the other day about camping.
I just popped over to your blog and saw the fantastic idea you have for the mother/daughter book club - when I read stuff like that it makes me wish that Taylor was young again. And if you're considering it, I seriously recommend geocaching for a great family activity.

Robin, you are such a colorful painter with words I feel shy to even speak. thank you for your kind words.

Derrick, I feel fortunate that she is close by and we have bits of time to share our passion together but who's to say what she will do after graduating and off into the real world - i hope we continue to share our passion - traveling to other countries is what I see next.

Anonymous, I do feel blessed that we share the this passion and an interest in art, it gives us common ground. However, it's not to say that we share every opinion and choice. But like you said of you and your mother - there is solid love there. Teen years are never easy - on the parent, or the teen for that matter, but as we make it through those years we are stronger for it .

Christina, through your blog I sense that you live a very passionate life - you care deeply and accept people for who they truly are. I'm sure this carries through to your daughter and that you and she have a very strong bond.

Elizabeth, thank you so much

Jae, I think we always sort of worry about losing our special bond with our children but I'm sure you'll always be your daughter's hero no matter what. Do try geocaching - it is so much fun. I visited your blog and your etsy site - your little critters are so adorable.

Se'lah, Oh I hope I didn't move the nest too soon - it was there all winter long. I hope she was planning on building a new one this spring. It would be great if she would return to the same tree - it's right outside my window.

Jessica said...

As a daughter, who is not yet a mother, it is lovely to hear words from a mother's point of view about the special relationship with a daughter.

susanna said...

What a terrific relationship you have with your daughter, Leslye.You both are lucky but then a good relationship such as yours also takes years of effort and commitment and nurturing and love. And it was worth it!

I soooo wish I could have explored that old church with you! What history! It's so sad that the building is falling apart. The United States isn't that old in relation to other countries and although slavery was shameful and terrible, having visible reminders of that period in US history is so important.

Sally Ferguson said...

What a special insight into the effort made to keep a relationship vibrant. It really blessed me!

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


dutchbaby said...

How I enjoyed coming along on your journey with your daughter. The connection between you daughter is heartwarming.

I've been on two geocaching adventures and enjoyed both thoroughly. I love the sense of accomplishment you get when you finally reach the treasure.

Oldies, but Goodies