Friday, April 22, 2011

Hiking with a pack of boys

Jon and I just came in from a short back yard date night because we got rained out. The kids were all snuggled in for the night and Jon needed a study break, so he built a small fire out back. The warmth of the fire was nice against the cool air, but sitting next to him was better. We tolerated the rain drops for a bit, but eventually we had to give up. Still, it was nice.

I think spring is my favorite season in this part of the world, while early fall would be my favorite in Quebec. This week we had some great weather and I wanted to take advantage of it before the summer heat arrives for good. We headed out to our favorite hiking spot one afternoon, and picked up some extra boys on the way. Olivia has had several invitations to birthdays and sleepovers and such, and I wanted to do something social for my boys. We packed snacks and drinks and bandaids, because we almost always need bandaids.

It was so interesting to watch the five boys interact. Actually it seemed to me that they were hardly interacting, at least not in a way that seemed very social. I had to remind myself that because they are boys  they won't have the same style of socialization that girls have. It's not my job to take away their boyishness. I curiously watched them, and resisted whispering to my own boys conversation ideas. They communicated by finding sticks for each other, seeing who could find the best way to cross the stream, and by hiding from each other. And then, in the car, they cackled and roared at jokes that didn't even make sense.

Boys are a different creature for sure. I would say this is a reason that marriage is an interesting adventure as well!

The only disappointment about our hike was the outcome of my pictures. In fact, this is the case each time we hike there. We follow a stream up through wooded canyons, crossing on stones and logs. The scenery is amazing, but the shadows are dark and the many patches of sunlight are strong. The lighting challenges are too much for me and my pictures of the actual hike are always too dark or super blurry. So the only  half decent shots I have were taken in the little clearing where we stopped to snack and play.

Olivia and I had a nice time together. Here we were relaxing on the blanket while we pretended not to notice that the boys were trying to sneak up on us.

He thought we couldn't see him... Only one time was I truly surprised by a creeping boy.

I acted all cool when they put lizards on me, too. I kept telling myself, "What's the big deal? It's not like a lizard will hurt me and it'll only freak me out if I let it." Mind over matter, right?

I relaxed on our blanket and watched the beauty around me. There's something about being out in nature that I find so restful and refreshing. And I was loving these kind-of-ugly hiking shoes and how much better my feet feel hiking in these compared to regular sneakers.

A little later the kids ventured back to the stream. Olivia had the proper footwear and ferried Jacob back and forth across the water, while the rest of the boys used stones. Eventually everyone took their socks and shoes off, some even began to undress.

Michael was hardest to catch in my viewfinder. He was always up the stream, or down the stream, or up a tree, or down a ravine...

Olivia, on the other hand, is was almost always close by. She's such a sweet companion.

The lighting began to soften just as it was time to pack up and head out. I expected that without the snacks and drinks to carry my pack would be lighter, but that was not so with the addition of wet clothes and "special" rocks. We were a tired bunch by the time we reached the car.

And the car, well, it had an adventure of its own that day too. I was recently joking with a friend that I was due to have something happen to my car. It has been a while since I've had a parking garage bump or a blown out tire. I haven't even locked my keys in the car for several years now. Well, my turn came around again and it happened that day on the interstate. I was following a utility/electrician's truck when the full length of a blown out tire whipped up from under the truck. In a split second decision I opted not to blindly swerve into the next lane. The tire came at us fast and made a loud thud as we drove over it. At first I was concerned that perhaps there would be damage underneath, but the gauges remained steady and I could hear no strange noises. (Unlike another time I drove over something on the freeway and blew out my own tire!) However, later I discovered the tire had not fully landed by the time it reached my car and it struck the bumper before we drove over it, leaving the bumper broken in several places and the paint damaged. Worst looking of all, poor baby, was the front light hanging way down by the wires. It reminded me of a picture I saw in a first aid class of an eyeball hanging out of its socket.

Jon was out of state that day, and as always, he took the news so well. He never makes me feel bad, or complains about the inconvenience or cost. He was thankful we were safe. In this case there was probably little, if anything, I could have done differently, but when I make stupid mistakes he down plays the situation. Remember the blender, Jon? Or the parked van I customized? Ahh, I'm a blessed wife indeed.


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