A hike was the perfect order of the day. The boys were excited about the idea. It would be a good workout and it would be good to be together. We planned to leave immediately after lunch. I noticed Daniel, who will be ten in November, and Wes, who will be seven in December, scramble for their gear. They had spent the morning pouring over outdoor outfitter catalogs looking at sophisticated equipment that would be sufficient to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail1. I thought back over the years to the hours I spent with my official Boy Scout handbook. I was disgusted to remember that I spent more time reading about nature than I spent experiencing it. That’s when I said, “Guys, let’s just use the daypacks2 we have and take a nice hike this afternoon.” They say the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention. The boys heartily agreed. Immediately after lunch we made for3 the trailhead. Chuck joined us and led the expedition. The little guys fell in on the trail ahead of me with their full daypacks, slouch hats, and bottles filled with water. They soon found walking sticks. I laughed as I watched Wes lurching4 along the trail ahead of me struggling with all his gear. He shuffled along behind his brothers careful not to drop behind. Not a syllable of complaint escaped his lips. We climbed to the crest of a hill up earthen stairs built into the hillside. Finally, I asked Wes if I could carry the pack for a while. He smiled quietly and handed the thing to me. The guys hiked quietly trying to “leave no trace5.” The air was sweet with the scent of autumn. Goldenrod nodded yellow along the trial. We crossed a footbridge over a stream that ran among small boulders. At one point, we came to the edge of the wood overlooking acres of corn ripening in an undulating6 field. I kept Wes’s pack and finally asked him, “What’s in the pack, Wes?” “A calculator,” he said. I thought I misunderstood him. I thought maybe trail mix, some apples, or maybe even some jerky would be good things to put in the pack. Maybe he packed a field guide, field glasses, or the writings of Thoreau7. Any of these would have made sense, but Wes said, “A calculator.” “What else did you put in here, Wes?” “That’s all.” “It’s kinda heavy, Buddy. Did you put some books in here, too?” “No, just the calculator.” He insisted the only thing the pack contained was a calculator. Then it hit me what he meant by a calculator. He was talking about the huge desktop adding machine8 that had been underfoot at home for the last few weeks! It was complete with a power cord and a roll of paper. I was trekking the wide outdoors with an adding machine in my backpack. “Why did you put an adding machine in your pack?” “I just wanted something in my pack,” he said. Kids are fun and full of surprises. I chuckle within every time I think of it and I am reminded what a priceless thing it is to have a little boy to hike with. It’s better to live than waste your precious life watching other people pretend to live on television. It’s good to be alive, and there are people out there who want your love. Get out and do something with the family. Spend time with the people who love you while you still can. Visit, ride bikes, stroll the beach, walk the dog, get some pictures, go out for coffee and pie, or go to church. If you can’t think of anything better to do, throw an adding machine in a backpack and hit the trails.
在这一天出去远足再好不过了，小子们对此兴奋不已。远足是个挺好的锻炼，也是和家人共享时光的好方法。 我们计划吃罢午饭立即启程。我看见丹尼尔和韦斯在争抢着准备自己的远足用品——丹尼尔今年11月年满10岁，韦斯到12月年满7岁。他们已经花了一上午时间挤在一起翻看户外运动用品商店的宣传册上那些复杂的装备——这些装备对这趟阿巴拉契亚山道之行来说绰绰有余。 这让我想起了多年前我花很长时间研读童子军手册的时光。我在文字中品味大自然的时间要比我亲身融入大自然的时间更多，一想起这一点我就感到厌恶，于是我跟孩子们说，“小子们，背上咱们那些小背包就可以了，咱们今天下午出去走个痛快”。俗话说，再远大的志向也不如实际迈出的一小步——小子们从心眼儿里表示同意。 午饭过后，我们立即前往山道的起点。这时，查克也加入到我们之中并打头阵。小家伙们背着鼓囊囊的背包，头顶阔边帽，手拿水壶，一起走在我前面，很快他们就捡到了“手杖”。韦斯带着他的全部装备在我前面费劲地沿山道蹒跚而行，看见此景我笑了起来。他慢吞吞地跟在哥哥们的后面，努力不被他们落下，但他一句抱怨的话都没说。 我们顺着建在山坡上的土阶往山顶上走。我最终还是询问韦斯是否要我帮他拿一会儿背包，他笑而不语，将“装备”递给了我。 孩子们安静地走着，尽量“不留下任何痕迹”。空气中弥漫着秋日的芬芳，清新甜美。道旁的黄花草摇曳着朵朵金黄。我们跨过一座人行桥，桥下一条小溪在鹅卵石间穿行。我们行至树林尽头，一眼望去，成亩的玉米在起伏的田地中生长。 我一路拿着韦斯的背包，终于我还是开口问他：“韦斯，这包里装的什么啊？”“一台计算器，”他说。 我以为我听错了。我觉得什锦干果啦，几个苹果啊，甚至是一些牛肉干啊都是带在背包里不错的选择。也许他会带上一本野营指南、望远镜，或者是梭罗的散文。任何这些东西都讲得通，不过韦斯却说是“一台计算器”。 “韦斯，包里还有其他东西吗？” “没了。” “伙计，这包可不轻啊。你还带着一些书呢吧？” “没有，就是一台计算器。” 他坚持说背包里只有一台计算器，然后我忽然意识到他所谓的“计算器”是什么东西了——他说的是我家在几周以前就扔在一边的那台巨大的桌上机械加法机！这东西还配备一条电源线和一卷纸。如今我正在广阔的大自然中跋涉，而背包里塞着一台加法机。 “你为什么把那台加法机放进背包？” “我只是想让背包里有点东西，”他说。 孩子们是有趣的，他们也总能给我们带来惊喜。每当我想起这件事就不由地咯咯笑起来。我意识到，能有一个小男孩和你一起远足是件千金不换的事。 与其浪费珍贵的生命看着电视中的人们假装过日子，不如自己切实地体会生命。活着是件美好的事，而且你的身边有人希望得到你的爱。走出家门和家人一起做些什么吧，在你还可以的时候与那些爱你的人共处吧：旅游、骑单车、海边散步、遛狗、外出照相、出去喝杯咖啡吃个馅饼，或者一起去教堂做礼拜。 如果你想不出更好的主意，那就在背包里塞上一台“计算器”，和家人一起去远足吧。 1. 阿巴拉契亚山道（Appalachian Trail）地处阿巴拉契亚山脉，是世界著名的徒步旅行路线之一。 2.从事登山等需要携带诸多器械和用品的户外活动时，人们通常会带一大一小两个背包，其中大的称为“backpack”，小的称为“daypack”。 3. make for: 前往…。 4. lurch v. 东倒西歪地前进；蹒跚。 5. Leave No Trace是美国开展的一项教育计划，其理念倡导人们在进行户外活动时要“行前完善计划”“在耐久的地表旅行或露营”“恰当处理废弃物”“不带走任何自然界的东西”“将营火对自然的影响减到最小”“尊重野生动物”并要“考虑到其他游客”。文中的孩子们接受过这种理念的教育，但对“leave no trace”还只是字面理解。 6. undulating a. 起伏的；波浪形的。 7. 亨利·戴维·梭罗（Henry David Thoreau，1817～1862）是美国作家，著名的自然主义者。他从1845年开始在瓦尔登湖畔隐居两年多，随后出版了散文集《瓦尔登湖》（Walden），书中有许多对自然的精彩描写，优美的文字中散发出他的人生哲理。 8. adding machine是一种老式、笨重的机械加法机，在电脑被发明以前是办公室中常见的工具，多用于记账。