Sunday, June 3, 2012

On a Mission

Mike is back home.  It feels better when Mike is home, like home is really home then.  I just wish our weekend wasn't over.  The best thing that happened today was the walk we took before dinner. 

Teddy needed to get outside.  Nick needed to get outside.  Shoot, with the little bit of dappled sunlight shining through the heavy clouds, I needed to get outside too.  It's hard to tell, but we might be at the beginning of another idyllic summer. 

It's June, so in a couple of weeks, it'll be getting light in the morning at about 5:11 am.  That really means that the sky begins to glow at about 4:30 am, though it feels like 3:00 am.  The cats seem to think it's time to get up when the sky shows the slightest inkling of morning.  That does leave a body slightly off-kilter, especially when school lets out and Nick and I can finally sleep in .  No such luck with the spotlight shining into my eyes and the cats leaping about on the bed like an episode of Simon's Cat.  You don't know about Simon's Cat, do you?  Funny stuff. 

Summer solstice also means that sunset isn't until 9:11pm, which means that it isn't dark until nearly 10:30 pm and you feel like you have to go to bed, like a child, while it is still light outside in order to get nearly enough sleep, especially with the cats jumping around on the bed like Simon's Cat.  If it weren't for the cats, I think I would love summer solstice. If not for the cats, I'd just sleep away through that morning spotlight like an old man in the back row at church.

That early morning sun is the only thing I find difficult about the summers in the Pacific Northwest. 

Imagine skies that are mostly blue and that at dusk, the light is a golden glow, almost peach-colored.  Imagine that it gets warm and mostly dry, yet stays the bright green that Ireland and, well, the Pacific Northwest are known for.  Imagine that you just might have a week or two in the eighties so that most days are perfect for biking, hiking, and the few hot ones are perfect for swimming, though the deep waters of the Puget Sound and even the lakes around here cry out for wet suits well into summer vacation.  Did you know that the reason that Seattle has two floating bridges is that the water in Lake Washington is too deep to drive pilings the way you do for normal bridges?  That's what I heard, anyway, but I couldn't find any extra information about it on the Internet.  What happened there?  I love looking up extra information to tell you from the Internet.

I have to tell you that I loved learning more about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the other day, didn't you?  Poor Tubby. 

In any case, most of our summer days are in the mid-seventies and sunny.  Can you believe that people begin to complain about the heat when it hits eighty-two.  Really?   We don't even need air-conditioners most of the time in the summer.  Then, once in a while, we get some rain in the summer.  You can tell the California transplants by the people who complain about the rain during our summers.  It's a warm rain, a soft rain.  It's seldom a deluge.  Really, people, if you can't handle a bit of rain, you shouldn't have moved here to begin with.  Am I right?

The absolute best thing about the summers here is that, on those seventy-seven degree days, the humidity is about ten percent.   Once in a great while, it will get up to about forty percent.  Oh my.

So this afternoon, Mike, Nick, Teddy, and I walked the Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Fall City.  It was lovely, with sunlight streaming through the tall trees, their branches crossing above us like Gothic arches.  The summer snow, the puffs from the cottonwood trees, were still falling in lazy drifts.  They glow in the sunlight like those little puffs, the ones called Woodsprites, in the movie 'Avatar.'

Nick was dressed in camouflage, except for a layer of a wicking long underwear he stole from Mike in bright blue.  We were on a mission.  I have noticed that Nick can hike longer when his imagination is engaged.  Today, he was a scout, Mike was running intelligence, and I, as usual, was a medic.  Teddy was part of the K-9 unit, sent ahead to rout out snipers.  We played our roles with Nick leading us and frequently stopping us all with a raised fist.  Apparently, we were running on silent mode, though the rabbit that we saw didn't think us too quiet.  It's funny that Teddy didn't ever see the little guy.  He doesn't have good eyes or a great nose for that matter, but who cares?  He's a really nice dog. 

Teddy had his own mission, to grab at any sticks we might be so bold as to carry below shoulder height.  That included some sticks shaped like sniper rifles, some shaped like bazookas, and a stick that could, with a stretch of the imagination, become an AK-47. 

"AK-47's are crap," Mike said, pretending to shoot his wooden sniper rifle.  Teddy leaped, grabbed it, and pulled.  So much for that sniper rifle.  Mike picked up a log and dragged it along the trail for a bit before Teddy grabbed it too, trying to twist it out of Mike's hands.  He may not be able to spot the rabbits, but he's a pretty smart cookie.  We all took turns throwing smaller sticks for Teddy to run for.  Whenever I threw a stick, he'd look back at me as if to say, "You throw like a girl."

"I am a girl," I told him out loud. 

Then he grabbed the log Mike had been dragging and started running around our legs, banging into the backs of our knees with it, mostly mine.  We walked along that way, on our mission, entertaining the dog until I said, "I'm the only one here who has food, but I wish I'd brought some water instead."  My point had been that I was thirsty.

"I want your Corn Nuts!" Mike said.

"I need the applesauce!" Nick yelled.  So much for stealth and I noticed that nobody claimed the tomato juice.  When he was done sucking the applesauce from the pouch, Nick let the package hang from his tongue and then from his lip like a parasite.  We were all about imagination on this walk.  Then, Nick decided to complete his camouflaged attire.  He tucked a couple of sword ferns into his hat and got me to take a dozen pictures of him 'completely invisible.'  He was invisible except for the grin on his face and those bright blue sleeves. 

"This is the best walk we've ever taken," Nick announced.  He was right.  It was lovely and sweet.  We wouldn't have many more days like this with a boy who is about to turn twelve.  I could have walked forever, except Mike was still hungry, despite the Corn Nuts.  On the way back, we had to pick Nick up a couple of times after he'd been 'shot by a sniper.'  This involved reminding him that he was lying in old horse poop and walking with him propped up between us.  Then, when we could just about see the car, or rather the extraction site, the mosquitoes arrived in a stealthy way.  The snipers had truly arrived.  Every idyllic location has its pests.

Thank you for listening, jb

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