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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2019 3 months ago

Walking with Kennedy: surprised by joy in the heat of Florida

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Brian McMillan's adventures at home, in Palm Coast.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

When I get home from work every day, my 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy, usually runs up to me with a big smile on her face and says, “Do you know why I have shoes on?” She holds up her pink-shoed foot and answers her own question with gusto: “Because I want to go on a walk!”

I started this tradition months ago — when it was nice and cool in the evenings. Now, it’s so hot that I start to sweat just thinking about it.

I tell her that I need to sit down for a few minutes and relax first. (Maybe she’ll forget all about it.)

“OK, Dad, are you ready to go?” Kennedy says about 90 seconds later, now wearing a pair of purple, miniature binoculars. She’s also holding my sketch book and pen so we can draw pictures “in the wild.”

Hard to say no to that.

Just in case they have a change of heart from the past few dozen times they’ve declined, I invite my four other children to come with us. They either ignore me, or they raise an eyebrow as if to say, “Good one, Dad.”

Kennedy gives one more appeal to her 15-year-old brother. She says, “Jackson, you need to come. You need to get exercise.”

But only one child is willing, and that’s Luke. He’s 1 year old and can’t complain about what he doesn’t understand. Into the stroller he goes.

And out we go, into the stifling dusk that could otherwise be known as the mosquitoes’ playground.

We walk a few hundred feet, and I realize that, after going for so many walks, we know the names of just about all our neighbors for several houses in both directions. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, but for 2019, I think it’s rare. One of our neighbors has lived in the same house for about seven years, and we might have gone another seven without meeting her, if it hadn’t been for Kennedy.

We have gotten to know others, too: Kennedy points out the flea bane, the white clover, the golden tickseed — wildflowers we have identified together. We stop and watch dragonflies, squirrels and crows, and she jumps into my arms out of fear of red ant piles.

On the way home, we pick up the pace to avoid the mosquitoes, and the breeze feels gentle and cool. I turn to Kennedy and say, “You know, this isn’t so bad, out here, is it?” She grins.

When we get home, I feel less irritable, more eager to help straighten up the house, more grateful for my life, and I’m so glad I walked with Kennedy rather than wasting those past 20 minutes in the air conditioning.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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