Well, having recovered from our ill-fated bus adventures and additionally, having bought land and started house planning, Jim and I have decided to become, if possible, somewhat more normal. In accordance with that goal, we have hit the road with the Airstream and gone north to visit family. Of course we know that’s not quite normal yet (still living in a trailer at the moment, still travelling who-knows-where), but we’re getting there. With that in mind, upon arrival we not only get right to the visiting part but actually throw in some helping around the house and childcare. And childcare (it can hardly be called that with such self-sufficient grandchildren) leads to some interesting times, believe me.
One day, six -year old Yve decides that our baking together, playing hairdresser and doing crafts is at a temporary end and that we should, instead, bicycle to the “Forest”. Hmm, bicycle? Forest? All that way, just her and I? Well, apparently that’s the plan and so off we go.
The “Forest”, it turns out, is exactly that and very west coast awesome. Enormous towering trees, moss everywhere, muddy paths and trails in every direction are the norm. As we enter this cathedral-like setting (wait a minute, where are all the other people?) I call to this little forest sprite who is by now a quarter of a mile ahead of me and completely at home in this environment.
“Yve, what about bears?” And I faintly hear her voice as she skips up the path, “You’ll protect me. Don’t worry.” Omigod, out of the mouth of babes. I’m worried.
And then, against my better judgement, we go on. That means up and up and up ( of course, this is a mountain- why would it be easy?). As we slog along the path (Me:slog Her:skip), Yve conversationally tells me that there are lots of “outdoor bathrooms” here in the forest. As we talk, I struggle to maintain a semblance of normal breathing and think I’m doing well. But I soon find that I unfortunately have to ask her where she thinks the nearest outdoor bathroom might be located. “Over there” she points to the left. “Or over there” she says as she casually looks right. Oh, okay. Well, don’t run away, Yve. I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere. Oh boy, how undignified, grandma.
Too soon, on we go. We climb uphill for what seems like a very long time (five more minutes) and then finally start down again. On the way back, for reasons I can’t begin to understand, Yve decides I need some hiking lessons. With demonstrations. First lesson: how to turn sideways when going down a slippery, mud-covered mountain path (and refrain from tumbling head over heels in yet another display of totally undignified behaviour). Hmm. Okay, I see how it’s done. I can do that. Easy-peasy, as Yve would say.
Okay, my turn…
Lesson two: getting across puddles and streams and boiling creeks. This, according to Yve, is also a simple task. No problem. Come on, this is fun!
And the final lesson, which is demonstrated but for some reason, not shared, is how to eat your candy while getting totally comfortable in the middle of the forest. Who knew?
Finally, to my relief, we reach the entrance gate and find our bikes still waiting for us. I’m just starting to relax when a couple of young men come racing out of the forest on their mountain bikes and pass by us very quickly. One of them glances over at me and sees what, a newbie? A “Forest” novice? He yells at us as he passes, “Hey, did you see the cougars behind us?” and then speeds off on his bicycle. What, does he think I don’t know anything? I know how to get down a muddy path sideways, I know how to get across a creek and I know how to use a forest bathroom. I walked the edge in this forest and I kept up with a six-year old. Does he think I don’t know how to arm wrestle a cougar? Come on, I’ve got my forest fairy and I can do anything and, in addition, I’m becoming normal. What was he thinking?