Selfie in Hells Canyon

The hubster and I spent most of last week in Hells Canyon tent camping for the first time in decades. (It went well. Fantastic in fact, so we’ve decided to plan another trip.) While hiking on one of the trails through the gorge below the dam we got a wild hair and took a selfie…mainly because it’s the only possible way we were ever going to get a shot of both of us in the same frame. It was fun and, surprisingly, turned out halfway decent considering we’d been camping for four days with accompanying grime build-up.

Here it is.

Cal & Dia on Snake River Canyon

Truly though, the surrounding scenery looked better. For example:

The canyon

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The snowcapped Wallowa Mountain range

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A wild rugosa in bloom

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Cascara sagrada leaves (from the tree whose bark gives us the active ingredient in ExLax. Gaze and be grateful.)

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Our campsite (just prior to departure so sans tent, etc.) with Sherpa Pepe and the Kayak Twins

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And an alpine rock garden on top of one of the many peaks

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Did I mention it was wildflower season? It was wildflower season.

We also saw a couple of mountain goats, nesting bald eagles, and a brown bear but alas, being no wildlife photographer, I was unprepared and missed the opportunities. Oh, there were also bats. And a head full of ticks…no, two head fulls…but we were way too frantic trying to rip them out again to even think about taking pictures. No rattlesnake sightings though, even though the canyon is full of them, and thank God for that.

copyright Dia Osborn 2014

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Returning to the world.

Forgive me. It’s been almost three weeks since my last post which is a record. I’ve kind of let myself go on a lot of levels since Cam died, including eating somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty pounds of chocolate and sugar in various combinations…which I admit I thoroughly enjoyed but in a probably perverse way.  Still, sometimes you need to stop doing everything and just float for a while.  Let the wind blow you around.  Drift. Rest. Think. Remember. Digest.

There’s much to digest here.

But this morning I feel myself returning to the world again, both figuratively and physically.  The hubster and I spent nine days out of the last twelve running away to the wilderness every chance we got and there’s nothing quite like getting out on the water surrounded by snow capped peaks, and paddling for miles and miles and miles to help rebuild a crumbling perspective.

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I think everyone develops their own way of finding a path back to that feeling of home at their center when they’ve become lost…prayer, meditation, service, gardening, cleaning house, work, family, friends, community, etc.

For the me the way back has always involved the silence and deep mystery of the natural world. It’s where I instinctively turned as a child for congregation and confessional and where I’ve returned ever since, especially when a wound needs tending.  The stars and storms, mountains and forests, wind and waters have a way of taking the torn, raggedy edges from any injury and pulling them gently back together again, giving them a chance to meet and knit and eventually scar over.

The hubster loves the wilderness, too, only for slightly different reasons.  He feels the silence, too, and needs it as much as I do, but his nature is more wild than mine, or at least wild in a different way.  Where I crave the wonder and mystery of vast and ancient forces, he’s after all the grand adventures that wilderness provides, and over time he’s taught me a little of that particular joy he finds in throwing himself, over and over, against inclement everything…weather, conditions, terrain, the absence of any kind of safety precautions.

Looking back I have to both laugh and shake my head at some of the stupid, stupid, STUPID things we’ve done over the years. The hubster is naturally fearless and impatient of anything that stinks of planning…which I, on the other hand, tend to be a little obsessive about. (My basic nature exacerbated by the depression.)  But he was always so irresistibly charming and relentlessly persuasive that I followed him anyway, over and over again, into situations that were way over my head.  Often over his head, too, but then he loves that.

But since we were lucky and actually survived it all, I now have a treasure cache inside me of memories when I followed him blindly through the labyrinth of all my clamoring terrors to emerge in breathtaking places of grace that were magical and impossible, as if I’d flown there.

My God. I shudder to think what the darkest years of the depression would have done to me without him there to drag me along behind on his adventures, bumping and pointing out every last, little, innocuous threat along the way. I’m pretty sure I would have ended up as a shut-in. It’s really too bad that the man can’t be bottled.

I owe him much, this beloved husband of mine.

Happy anniversary sweetheart and thanks for our continuing grand adventure together. I do so love you.

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Best laid plans of mice and men.

The hubster and I got an early start on our flatwater kayaking adventures a couple weeks ago…at least that was the plan.  Things seemed to be dry and sunny enough for it when we left the house but it didn’t quite work out.  Here’s why:

Ridiculous but beautiful, no?  That subzero cold snap we had this winter was a little more serious than we realized.  Oh well, soon.

 

The Little Gosling That Couldn’t and How The Kayak Got Her Name

This one falls under the heading of “strange and magical things experienced while kayaking.”  My twin interests of paddling and dying paired up for a brief dance last weekend.

On Saturday we strapped the kayaks to the car and drove out to a canyon area that…long, long ago and far, far away…had a creek running along the bottom of it.  But one day the Army Corps of Engineers came along and built Lucky Peak dam and, lo and behold, the canyon became a long finger of the resulting reservoir instead.  (A change that unquestionably sucked for everything that lived down there at the time, but turned out to be a boon for municipal water storage and boating of all kinds.)

We got up at 5:30 to beat the power boats and water skiers and were rewarded with the stillness and solitude that only goes to the early risers. (Which I normally am not.)  We started at the tip of the long finger and paddled along for an hour and a half, gazing up at basalt cliffs and the clouds of wheeling, flitting birds that make their homes there.  Later we discovered a small but breathtaking cove with lichen covered cliffs rising straight from the water and a couple of tinkling, tiered waterfalls cooling the already hot day.

And then, as we finally neared the end of the narrow canyon and prepared to enter the main body of the reservoir itself, we sighted a pair of Canadian geese shepherding twenty-three, brand new goslings in a tight bunch between them (count them! twenty-three!!) and we immediately swung the kayaks out into deeper water, giving them as wide a berth as possible out of concern for those unpredictable, wide-eyed, bits of fluff.

By that time the power boat traffic had picked up in the main reservoir and a few of them were turning into the canyon, roaring and dragging their bouncing, scooting loads back up what we’d just paddled silently down.  The clash of water-recreational cultures had begun and it was now time to share.

The hubster and I had gotten separated somewhere along the line, with him paddling along one side of the widening channel heading for the main marina, while I followed the line of cliffs on the other side, gazing up and studying the geology.  Deep down I knew I was going to have to cross eventually, to join him, and navigate the boat traffic in the process.

But I didn’t want to….I just didn’t…and some deep, stubborn thing inside me dug in and grabbed on with it’s toes.  I didn’t want to go to the marina.  I didn’t want to deal with the boats.  I didn’t want anything to do with the human world at all because I knew it would break the spell I’d fallen under earlier in the canyon…of water and wings, rhythm and rock.

So I ignored his lead and kept to my own side until, just up ahead, I was distracted by something strange floating on the water.  It wasn’t the occasional driftwood or flotsam or jetsam bumping past my boat.  It was soft brown and upright and I soon realized that 1) it was a lone gosling drifting perilously close to the wakes from the main boat lane and, 2) that it belonged to the gaggle of other goslings we’d passed earlier, back up the canyon, but had somehow gotten separated.

I never really decided to do it.  On the contrary.  It happened with no reflection whatsoever and entirely without my consent.  My arms simply paddled the kayak around behind the gosling, turned the bow back up the canyon, and started to patiently, relentlessly herd him along the base of the cliffs after his family.  Just like that.

Looking back now it’s amazing to me, how my perception could change that much in a single breath.  How a world as populated and noisy as the reservoir was, could suddenly telescope down to a single, tiny, bobbing life like that.  My vision went tunneled and everything else ceased to exist…the power boats, the hubster, time.  It’s funny.  Over the years and on into menopause, I’d forgotten what a fierce thing the maternal instinct can be and what odd things can invoke it.  But in an instant there she was again, up on her hind legs with claws spread, just like old times.

It’s nice to know the hormones still work.

The spell deepened.  As I paddled slowly…s-l-o-w-l-y…along, nudging, urging, heading off, backing up, turning, resting, then urging the little gosling on again, I started to feel a strange kinship with all the Canadian goose mothers I’ve watched over the years as they guided their own babies along.  It was like there was a second, phantom world gradually superimposing over the first, one where the yak was turning into a plump, feathered body and the paddle, a long, stretching neck.  It was an odd sensation, that tactile feeling of goose-ness settling over me, but I welcomed it anyway for the additional skill and information it lent me.

The gosling wasn’t doing well…at all…and I soon realized why he had been abandoned.  He was weak and getting weaker.  The effort required for him to swim ahead of my kayak was clearly a lot and he also suffered occasional spasms of some kind of palsy.  I wondered if he was born with neurological damage or if he’d been caught in the wake of a boat right out of the egg, maybe dashed against some rocks or injured in some other way.

At some point it dawned on me that the little guy wasn’t going to survive, and my mission changed from saving his life to reuniting him with the family so he wouldn’t have to die alone.  By this time the hubster had noticed my preoccupation and come over to check out what I was doing.  As soon as he saw the gosling he joined my efforts without a word and together we urged the tiring baby forward as gently as we could.  But the gosling was so weak…and the going so achingly slow…that eventually the hubster decided to paddle up the shoreline to try and find the family.  To perhaps herd them back down towards us if he could.

I began crooning encouragement to the gosling, who was pausing to rest with increasing frequency, and he seemed to respond to the soft, loving sounds.  He stopped and looked up at me a few times, relaxing a little, and started trying to follow the edge of the bow as I held the careful distance between us that I’d maintained the whole way.

And then something happened that took me entirely off guard.  A spasm of palsy struck the gosling that was so strong his bowels emptied into the water.  And as I sat there waiting for it to pass, watching the small patch of white refuse sink and disperse beneath the surface, the baby suddenly turned towards me…disoriented, overwhelmed, and unable to continue…and swam straight for the hand that I instinctively lowered into the water.

He never hesitated but climbed right in, balancing there among my careful fingers as I lifted him up and nestled him protectively in my lap.  And as he sat there quietly, exhausted, I started paddling in earnest, heading for an inlet about a quarter mile up the canyon where the hubster was signaling that he’d found the rest of the goose family.

I honestly don’t know how to describe the strange mixture of emotions and instincts that had taken possession of me by that time.  I don’t really understand it myself.  There were flashes of stories going through my mind, stories I’d heard of other mothers from other species who had done the same thing I was doing.  There was a female gorilla in a zoo somewhere.  The one that picked up an injured human child who had accidentally fallen into her enclosure and cradled it against her, protecting it from an aggressive male gorilla that could have done further harm.  There was a Labrador Retriever bitch that a friend of mine once owned, who patiently, lovingly nursed a litter of orphaned kittens to term, taking them on as her own when the mother cat had been killed.

There are other stories, too, of this particular phenomenon—of surprising cross-species interactions filled with tenderness and generosity–and these stories tend to both puzzle and delight all of us who hear them.  I wonder if it’s because maybe, each time, they hint that we’re not quite as different from each other as we thought.  Or that we’re not quite as alone as we feared.

What I do know is that sitting there in the kayak that morning with a beautiful, dying gosling across my thighs, I suddenly understood with crystal clarity how those other animal mothers could behave the way they did.  I got it, how an innocent life falling from the sky, however damaged or brief, can instantly become the only thing that matters.  How the kind of terrible vulnerability they present can trigger the most primal of instincts…and what a good and sacred thing that is.

By the time I reached the hubster in the inlet where the family was resting, the gosling was sinking into permanent disorientation.  He was actively dying and, as I cupped him in both hands and placed him back into the water, he kept trying to swim the wrong way.  He didn’t seem to see or hear the other geese as they clacked and shifted uneasily at the end of the inlet, and we weren’t quite sure what to do.  We didn’t want to get any closer out of concern for the other goslings, but at the same time we wanted to guide our own little guy near enough to the others to have a chance to see and join them.

Finally, the two adult geese seemed to notice the gosling swimming near us and one of them raised its wings a little, making alert and angry goose noises and moving aggressively in our direction.  At this our little guy seemed to clear the fog for second and see them and he turned to swim down the inlet in their direction.

For a brief and dazzling moment, I thought everything would be okay.

But it wasn’t.  Everything started going wrong.  Instead of crossing the water towards the family on the right bank, the dying gosling hugged the opposite shore.  His head wobbled with palsy, his swimming grew increasingly erratic and aimless, and with a sigh I recognized all the signs.  He was losing awareness of the physical environment around him as he commenced the final stage of dying.  He was going light…entering that luminous border world around life that has to be crossed on the way out.

I’d also made a classic mistake with the adult geese.  Forgetting everything I know, I’d projected all my human emotions onto them and childishly expected them to welcome the gosling–which they’d already abandoned once–back into the fold.  Far from the joyful reunion I’d imagined, the parents herded the other babies as far away from the injured gosling as possible, actually moving them down the inlet towards us.  I realized they were willing to risk a dangerous level of closeness with humans rather than get anywhere near the dying gosling and, too late, I remembered about that other, harsher instinct that also lurks inside us all.  The one that whispers mistrust of all things sick, misshapen, or dying.

It’s the one that always errs on the side of caution in order to avoid contagion and preserve life.

Strangely, I accepted the unexpected turn of events with no more rational thought than I’d given to anything else that had happened.  That deep, clawed thing inside me simply fell to all fours and ambled off.  Nothing felt wrong or sad to me, still sitting under the spell of primal things as I was.  It just felt done.

I watched for one lingering moment as the blinded gosling bumped his way up the inlet and then, when the hubster suggested we get going, I turned my kayak without a word and followed him.  We needed to get out of the way of the way of the other geese and besides, I couldn’t chase the gosling down to try and cradle him at the last.  It would only have frightened and traumatized him as he died and that wasn’t allowed.

There’s an instinct for that one, too.

I’ve been haunted by that morning ever since, by the image of that strange, breathless moment when a mortally wounded gosling turned and, against every instinct, swam straight into my hand.  The memory of it fills me with both wonder and questions.  I don’t understand why he did it.  I don’t know whether it was a gesture of desperation and disorientation, or a moment of recognition and trust.  And there’s no way I can ever know, because I think there are some things we’re only supposed to ponder, not solve.

But even though I can never know for him, I can know for me…from my side…and I know this much:

That in his brief and tiny time here, the miracle is that I found him at all.  He was so infinitely small floating alone there in that vast body of water, and a later start, a different trajectory or speed, something as simple as a longer gaze up at the cliffs, would have made me miss him completely.  I’ll never know whether the crossing of our paths turned out to be a better thing for him or not, whether my efforts ultimately eased or increased his suffering.  I can only hope that I did more good than harm.

But whatever it was for him, it was most certainly a gift for me, one of the rarest in fact, to be placed in my secret treasure box full of sparkling things.  It was an encounter full of the dizzying reminder that life is beautiful, yes.  Without doubt.  But it’s only in opening up to let all the world’s shadows and all the world’s light pour inside to fill me, that life transforms from the merely beautiful into an enchanted, shimmering place of wonder, seen with ever widening eyes.

Epilogue: I’ve been secretly chafing ever since our first kayaking adventure when the hubster bravely towed that fishing boat back to shore and earned his kayak its name–Tug Boat.  I wanted a good name for my kayak, too, but after his naming adventure, everything I came up with sounded made-up and lame.  Unearned.

But there was a moment in the middle of shepherding the gosling, when he was still in the water and my yak and I were jockeying around him, trying to guide and protect him both, when the name came to me out of the blue, like it had been whispered in my ear.  

“Mother Goose.”

And that was how the kayak got her name.

copyright Dia Osborn 2012

Gosling image above is from Wikipedia

The Little Kayak That Could

Did I mention we’ve taken up kayaking?

(Kidding.  That’s not either of us.)

It began as a New Years thing (as in I’m really going to do it this time…) and, as hobbies go, is pretty easy to pick up around here since lake and river-rich Idaho is a major hub for paddling sports of all kinds.  (Except sea kayaking.  Obviously.)

We started by renting a couple of twelve foot yaks to paddle around a pond next to the river (from Idaho River Sports for anyone local and interested.  GREAT store.  GREAT people who work there.  Friendly and laid back.  They all LOVE paddling and LOVE sharing their love of paddling.  All you have to do is walk in the door and you’re their friend.)  We figured we’d rent for the summer, try out a few different kinds of kayaks, raise some money, raise some more money, then raise a wee bit more, until maybe we’d have enough to buy our own boats later in the fall or next spring.

But then we got a call.  They said that a couple of used ones had come up for sale (cheap!!…CHEAP!!) and the next thing you know, we were pulling back into the driveway with a couple of kayaks on the car.

(BTW, that’s not the hubster standing there with my arm around him.  He’s standing behind the cell phone camera.  That’s actually B. Daughter who had just dropped by to say hi.)

And then, abandoning all of our careful plans for gradual safety equipment accumulation (actually that should read “my” plans…the hubster, being a strong advocate for spontaneity and adventure, doesn’t have much use for safety planning,) we grabbed the wetsuits and life vests we’d (I’d) obtained so far and bolted up to Arrowrock reservoir on Sunday for a trial run.

Clearly, we survived, as you must have guessed by now since your’re reading this.  And even though we paddled across a fairly large body of very cold water twice, neither the rising afternoon winds nor the wakes from various power boats overturned us after all, thereafter requiring a long, weakening, futile swim into hypothermia, eventual unconsciousness, and drowning before we could ever reach shore again.  (Again, this type of mental scenario is strictly my territory.  I was made for disaster planning.  The hubster’s mind runs along far more optimistic lines and, indeed, is my saving grace.  Without it, by the time I got through envisioning all the bleak possible futures out there, I’d never leave the fricking house.)

But the indomitable hubster still managed to find an adventure for himself, in spite of all my best efforts to avoid one.  We had just pulled the car down next to the water in order to load the kayaks for departure, when a camping fisherman from the next site over wandered by with his dogs for a chat.  But barely had he arrived when he glanced out across the water to discover his power boat…which he realized with some chagrin he hadn’t moored securely enough…had come loose and was floating away down the lake.  It’s canopy was catching the afternoon wind, moving it along at a fair clip.

Then, to my horror, the fisherman casually mentioned that it looked like he was going for a swim.  A swim?  My disaster radar started beeping.  He was going to swim after his boat??

“You can’t!” I blurted out in alarm.  “You can’t swim that far in water this cold!  You’d never make it.  Hypothermia would set in before you could get there.”

At which point the hubster stepped bravely forward, ripped back his wetsuit revealing the large letter H on his chest, and said in a deep, booming voice, “I can get it for you.”

Well, needless to say the fisherman wasn’t turning down an offer like that.  The hubster quickly zipped up his life vest, grabbed his paddle, and launched his kayak again in the direction of the boat.  At first I thought (in resignation) that I’d just wait at the car since my arms had already fallen halfway off my shoulders from the earlier four hours of paddling.  But it didn’t take long (seconds!) for my mind to generate a surprising variety of different capsizing possibilities so the next thing I knew, I, too, was back in the water, paddling furiously after the love of my life, determined to save him from himself if necessary, or at least drown beside him in the ultimate worst case scenario.

In the end, neither were necessary.  Super H reached the boat, tied the dangling mooring line around his waist, and commenced paddling into the wind to try and cover the approximately quarter mile of water that now lay between the boat and the beach.  The fisherman’s girlfriend, sensing the uniqueness of the moment, wisely grabbed her boyfriend’s cell phone and started taking pictures.  This is what it looked like:

The wind eventually proved too strong for the hubster to return it to the beach.  He had to take it into a less convenient part of the shoreline but, all in all (since neither of us died and the fisherman was grateful to land it anywhere) it was tremendous fun.  A great maiden voyage for our new-used, spunky, little kayaks.  We were wondering what we should name them at the start of the day but the fisherman graciously took care of at least one of them for us.  As a parting gift he christened the hubster’s kayak Tug Boat.  In the future we’ll be calling it Tug for short.

copyright Dia Osborn 2012

SOBERING UPDATE:  My sister-in-law in Spokane read this post and then forwarded me a link to an article in the Spokesman Review concerning a novice kayaker who died of hypothermia in early April after his boat capsized in wind-driven waves out on a lake up there.  They were exactly the kind of conditions I worried about for us.  I’ll definitely be picking up a couple of tow ropes and a pump before we go out again.  And I’ll have the hubster watch this excellent video on the effects of cold water immersion, too, just so we’re on the same page. 

Of Birthdays, Mouth Control, And The Risk of Living

My birthday just passed and the hubster and I headed outdoors to spend the day kayaking and hiking.  We always go outside for my birthday because if I were a compass, the natural world would lie at magnetic north.  This year was particularly inviting because it’s been so radically warm that it already felt like spring.  Everyone was outdoors in fact, not just us.  The young, strong, and nubile were hitting the river in wetsuits, while a caravan of towed motorboats wound its way out to the reservoirs with beach chairs and coolers of beer carefully tucked among the fishing gear.  (We lie somewhere around the middle of this spectrum.)

We’re just starting to kayak…our adventurous spirit is reviving from a near death experience as we finally shed some of this horrible weight…and we spent about an hour on a calm pond next to the river in town trying out different kinds and sizes of boats.  (Or, in the vernacular, “yaks.”)  Afterward we decided to drive up into the reservoir system northeast of Boise to scout for more exciting places to paddle once we spread our wings.

There are three dams on the middle and south forks of the Boise River…Lucky Peak, Arrowrock, and Anderson Ranch…and the reservoirs they create stretch for miles back into the mountains.  Below is a photo of Arrowrock dam with spring flows already being released due to the early snow melt.  Note the sparse snow cover on the mountains back behind.

The lack of snow bodes ill for future irrigation but it was terrific for hiking.  Normally we wouldn’t be able to access the ravine pictured below this time of year…at least without snowshoes…but we caught a great day.  The creek that runs along the bottom was low enough for us to cross since most of the lower snow had already melted and run off.  (The hubster missed one jump and got a shoe wet though.  Fortunately, he survived as seen with Dane the mangy rescue mutt below.)

It was spectacular back there, with snowy peaks capping both ends of the valley.  We had views both coming and going.  This is what it looked like hiking in:

And this is what it looked like coming out again:

As we began our hike we met a couple waiting next to a truck near the trailhead.  The woman, a pair of binoculars in hand, had just slid down a side hill and was engaged in serious consultation with the man.  They explained they were waiting for their three teenage sons who had hiked off along a high ridge running above the ravine some time earlier.  They seemed uneasy as the boys were late returning to the truck.  I got the impression the two weren’t married and that the mother was a lot more worried about her son(s) than the father, a hunting man, was about his.

She asked us to watch out for them and to deliver the message that they were waiting if we saw them, and I assured her we would.  But not before the hubster joked that the word “mother” is embedded in the word “smother.” (Sigh)  He realized from the ensuing awkward silence that it was a glaring faux pas, but couldn’t unsay it at that point.  Really, he’s come so far over the years in terms of filtering the thoughts in his head before they spill out of his mouth, but every once in a while he still just takes a hard right like that and sails over the cliff.

As a mother, I could relate to her worry because…well…that’s just what we do.  We know what can happen.  But at the same time I didn’t take her fears seriously because I was picturing boys in the sixteen to seventeen year range.  Around here, boys of that age with a hunting father are already experienced in wild terrain, so a simple hike on a clear afternoon wouldn’t usually pose any kind of meaningful risk.

We were only about a half-mile in when we sighted them up the trail and I immediately realized her worry was based on something more substantial.  The boys were younger than I thought…more in the twelve to fifteen year range…and her son, a pale, slight boy with glasses, looked to be the youngest.  By the time we met we could see that all three of them were agitated, a little scratched up and dirty, and they pounced on us wanting to know how much farther it was back to the trailhead.

They told us they’d been hiking along the ridge on the other side of the ravine when…for a boyish lark I suppose…they decided to climb down the mountainside, cross the creek, and climb back up to the trail we were on.  They pointed out the spot where they chose to make their descent and my blood went cold.  You can’t really tell from the photos but the sides of that ravine are quite steep and the boys had not only picked one of the steepest spots of all to climb down, it was a rocky, north facing slope that still held a thin layer of snow.  The descent was far more slippery and treacherous than they realized and they all exclaimed that they’d wound up slipping a few times.  If one of them had lost control of their fall, it would have meant tumbling wildly down a thousand feet of hillside, battered against jagged granite outcroppings the whole way.  Even the oldest boy (who seemed to be the son of the hunter) was visibly shaken by the experience.

We gave them the mother’s message and sent them on their way (although not before the hubster…imploding under the pressure of a stern admonition not to…helplessly blurted out to hurry because their mom was crying, which only made her son even more upset.  He then tried to backtrack by calling after their swiftly receding backs, no, no, no, it was their dad crying, not their mom, but both the intended humor and the correction sailed right over their heads.  I was just grateful she’d be gone by the time we got back.)

We talked for a while about boys of that age and how unpredictable they can be, how an older child can so easily lead younger ones into situations that escalate like that one did, and how all three of them now have a great story to add to their growing cache of adventures.   We shook our heads and reminisced about our own early scrapes, marveling yet again that kids ever survive to adulthood at all, and it made me think about the growing trend these days of trying to protect them from more…and more and more…of the perennial dangers that always lurk in the world.

To my eyes, some of these efforts lean towards the irrational, to the point where some regulatory attempts (not to mention some of the things parents are being prosecuted for) can not only interfere with basic parenting but a child’s ability to explore their world as well.  I sometimes wonder what kind of people our children will turn into under so much legislated fear, and what kind of society it might lead them to create in their turn.  Hopefully, the pendulum will eventually swing back to an attitude that’s more balanced…something that moderates the current hyper-vigilance with at least some acceptance of the fact that the very nature of life is, and always will be, unpredictable.

We stayed out for a couple hours and, as we headed back, the setting sun broke through the clouds turning the whole valley golden behind us.  A parting gift from the weather gods.

We ended the day by impulsively stopping by Mon Pere’s house on the way home and catching an impromptu dinner with him, his girlfriend of twenty-five years, and her daughter and grandson.

By the end of the day I was a very happy camper; relaxed and supremely content.  It was a most excellent birthday, to be sure.

copyright Dia Osborn 2012