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Dan the Man

2013 June 18
by Rachel Turiel

It must be Fathers Day if we’re switch-backing up a steep, rutted, cliffy gravel road at 9am, bag of bakery goods sweating greasily in the front seat, truck pointed towards 11,000 feet.

The dues to pay: the truck weeble-wobbling on washboard sections of the road on the side of a cliff. Rose demonstrating impressive plea-bargaining skills for the liberation of a croissant. Col and I both gripping vinyl and gasping for much of the drive.

The rewards:


Red columbine. When Rose caught onto the fact that she could suck the nectar out of the columbine spurs, we didn’t hear about croissants for awhile.

Parry’s primrose (in honor of Dan’s father, Hal, who we miss terribly and who called himself a “primula-phile,”), the stinkiest flower you’ll ever love.

Wild onion, where sweet meets spicy.

There is no doubt that our kids get different things from each of their parents. I am pretty thrilled that the kids consider the library a destination, and that for them the nightly reading of chapter books falls under the “needs” category, along with food, water and snuggles. (Current book: Bridge to Terebithia). Dan is pretty thrilled that last week Col trounced him in a BB-gun shooting contest and that Rose would spend all summer in a tent if she could. Dan finds hanging out at the park fairly ho hum (especially if we don’t bring a soccer ball); I find the street bike races he organizes harrowingly unwatchable.

At the beginning of our Father’s Day hike, we crossed a creek and Col’s left foot slipped in and got soaked. Dan told him, “you were born with wet feet, kid, and you’ll probably have wet feel again.” I waited for the protest, but Col blithely hopped onto a fallen log and continued on his quest for fossils. Later, when Rose wondered, sighingly, where we were going, Dan answered, “We’re here to be where we’re at right now.” Rose nodded up at him as if Dalai Lama the Daddy had spoken.

I try to pay attention to Dan’s wisdom. While I’m bumbling around trying to find the line between encouragement and praise, often mistaking it for some subtle, mysterious thing, Dan delivers it straight. He tells Col, to whom he’s pitching baseballs, “you don’t need to hit the ball into the San Juan Mountains, you just need to connect with it.” I crane my neck from where I’m transplanting squash to see how Col’s absorbing these words. He smiles, takes a long breath, and smoothly cracks the ball over the chicken coop.

Dan’s comments to the kids sometimes seem flavored with the bitter spice, quit yer bitching. But really the underlying sentiment is, I believe in your strength, adaptability and flexibility. The kids get to rise up to what is already expected of them. And they do.

Lewisia pygmea for fellow plant nerd, Lilly Hancock.

In the mountains we got rained on, hailed on, and chased out of the forest by wild lightning cracks. Rose, whose superpower is Can have a party most anywhere, plucked hail out of wildflower cups, while singing out a song of thanks and sucking on ice balls like candy. Meanwhile the rest of us were like, “um, do you hear that lightning?”

As usual, we didn’t hike far. As usual, being up amongst the primroses and columbines left a wistful taste in my mouth from every glorious pre-kid backpacking trip I’ve ever taken. I know I’ll be back in these mountains, unfettered, someday soon. The gift now is watching Col swoop a heart-shaped rock up from the banks of the rock-lined creek like it sang to him, and presenting it to Dan. (Later he tells me, “I’m going to carry this rock but it’ll always be from me to Daddy.”). The gift now is hearing Rose announce proudly, “I’m spotting so many yellow wild mustards!” (Even though they’re actually mountain parsley. No problem girl, you’ll get it.). The gift is simply being here, the invisible cord of family cinching us together on a summer day in the high country.


ps: thank you for all your sweet words before and after my birthday!

Father’s Day 2012

Father’s Day 2011


32 Responses leave one →
  1. Jan Turiel permalink
    June 18, 2013

    What a wonderful way to celebrate Father’s Day. You make the mountains sing to me!

  2. June 18, 2013

    perfect. dan is the man! thanks so much for your writing.

  3. June 18, 2013

    dan is SUCH the man. glad yer day to celebrate him was so beautiful.

  4. June 18, 2013

    your family is all kinds of awesome x

  5. Baba permalink
    June 18, 2013

    Happy fathers day to Dan. You are a great Dad to those kids

  6. June 18, 2013

    Gah! Most the pictures aren’t loading. But I can see it all in my head! Sounds perfect. And I’m glad to hear that about columbine nectar…a friend of mine told me the same thing last week on a walk in the arboretum. But, being raised to never eat a plant unless you were sure it was safe, I demurred (also, she called it honeysuckle, so I didn’t think she was a reliable source). Also, you’re reading them Bridge to Terebithia?? Do you know how that book ends??

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 18, 2013

      Andrea, I do know how that books ends because I loved it (and cried over it) as a child. I am trying to coordinate the reading of it to make sure we don’t read “that chapter” at night.

      Anyone else having trouble seeing the photos?

    • June 18, 2013

      I’m reading Bridge to Terebithia to my kids too! (We just finished The White Dolphin – they loved it). Amanda – how does it end?? Now I’m worried.

      • Rachel Turiel permalink*
        June 18, 2013

        Amber Lena, FYI: “that chapter” is titled “The perfect day.” You might want to read ahead before reading to your girls.

  7. Melissa permalink
    June 18, 2013

    I couldn’t agree more about the significance of kids getting (needing) different gifts from their parents. It comes up early, the differences in parenting styles–it’s always a hot topic in new parent support groups, with the parent who birthed the child having strong feelings about the other parent “not quite doing it right” or “not getting it.” I’ve had moments when I have felt the same way, but man, how big of an ego would I have if I thought my way was the best/only way? And when I really let go and observe what a wonderful parent Leeor is to our kids, I also see that I could learn a thing or two.

    I love your honesty and as always, the beautiful way you capture moments and feelings. Xoxo!

  8. Andrea permalink
    June 18, 2013


  9. June 18, 2013

    Thank you for the wildflowers! And blessings to Dan.

  10. June 18, 2013


  11. June 18, 2013

    okay, that does it…screw toiling after Enlightenment in the Bardo…ilg is resetting next life priorities; my next life goal is to be one of you & Dan’s kids! ;-) i know i owe you an email…gettin’ there! xoxo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 18, 2013

      Your kiddo’s got a pretty stellar existence too.
      Looking forward to your e-mail.

  12. Susan S permalink
    June 19, 2013

    Rachel, I absolutely love the pictures of Dan being with the kids, especially in this post where Dan and Col are hunkered down on the ground, looking at the map, and in the last post where they were enthusiastically hugging each other, Col the recipient of a Dad smooch on the cheek.

    I watch fathers who have relationships with their children with the fascination of an anthropologist studying a heretofore unknown culture. I had a good relationship with my dad until I was about 5 and then it simply wasn’t good anymore. I don’t know what happened, but I do know you’d never catch my dad loving his children the way Dan loves your children. That is a picture never posed.

    To me, there’s something mystical in the bedrock ordinariness of Dan’s love for his children. Fairy tale beautiful with the gift of being absolutely real life true.

    Happy Father’s Day, indeed! :-)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 19, 2013

      Fathers and their children *are* an interesting topic, aren’t they? So much has changed in the past few generations. My dad’s dad never told his kids he loved them! Or showed any affection! I love that today’s dads are right in the trenches with the kids.

  13. June 19, 2013

    “We’re here to be where we’re at right now.” — I love this! Our daughter often asks us on our ramblings “*Where* are we going?”

  14. Sam permalink
    June 19, 2013

    Reading your blog is like smelling a really lovely rose – you just can’t get enough. It’s so refreshing and restoring (and enjoyable!) to follow along with you and your family’s adventures, goodness and wholesomeness. Thanks for sharing your view of the world from 6512 feet with all of us!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 19, 2013

      Thank YOU for reading, Sam.

  15. June 19, 2013

    Thank goodness for the men in our lives that deliver it straight..xoxo

  16. Ania permalink
    June 19, 2013

    oh, places you can take your family for a trip – heartbreakingly beautiful.

    I haven’t read Bridge to Terabithia, but remember reading and crying over Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart as a child.

  17. June 19, 2013

    nice. happy father’s day dan!

    i’m so intrigued you’re reading bridge to terebithia. i have my very own copy of it from ~3rd grade on the shelf, waiting. which seems odd that i’m waiting for something, since we read all of harry potter already and he barely flinched. i just know it was a biggie for me when i read it. love that it’s a *need*!

    plant nerds? here?!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 19, 2013

      mb, I remember being so choked up reading B t T in elementary school, but I also remember loving it. So I made sure the kids and I were snuggled in bed, during the day, and warned that a sad part was coming. They really didn’t flinch, those toughies. I bet Quinn will be fine.

      • Rachel Turiel permalink*
        June 19, 2013

        Something I didn’t remember from the book is how mean and jerky all the kids are to each other. (Was that a 70’s thing?) That part got a little repetitive and upsetting.

  18. lilly hancock permalink
    June 20, 2013

    Lewisia! Thanks for posting the picture, Rachel. Can’t wait to get back and see it for myself.

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