Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Sandy Honeymoon That Smelled of Fish

I miss Mike.  He's at a Boy Scout Camporee at Camp Pigott.  This afternoon, he sent a video of the other boys wheelbarrow jousting.  I sent him back a message, 'Put your eye out with that thing.'  I'm at home with Nick, who was too sick to go to camp today or to take his green belt test for karate.  It was going to be a busy day to try to do both.  This way was a little disappointing, but there wasn't a thing to be done about it.  Mike needed to go.  Nick wanted to go, but knew he wasn't feeling well enough.  So, it was a quiet day at home for Nick and I.  Teddy and I slipped out this afternoon, to go run with the dogs at the Three Forks Dog area.  Teddy made a friend or two.  I talked to their owners.  It was nice.  I keep hoping to see people more than once, but so far I haven't seen repeats very often.   It's because I don't go to the same place at the same time every day.  I, myself, am not a regular. 

It was funny how I could begin to talk to a total stranger and his daughter about running rapids with Mike.  This man was a climber.  I could tell by the climbing rope he'd fashioned into a leash.  Why did he seem like a kindred spirit out in that field?  I'm not a climber, not at all.  I'm a river rat.  Rather, I used to be a river rat.  It shocks me that I can be so far from a river rat these days. 

"Even river rats get old," I told him.  I wanted to tell him about my issues with sugar, how it scares me to think of trekking in the wilderness with confusion like that coming on at unexpected times, how sleeping on the ground is harder than it used to be, how my son's last experience in the the lakes of Minnesota ended early because he was having an uncontrolled allergic reaction to mosquito bites.  It is not good to be a half a day's paddle away from civilization if you can't control swelling at twenty or more sites on a kid's body.

Yet, I want to be back in the canoe, back in the raft.  Those were exhilarating days.  I don't want to have to say I've given them up.  Have I given them up?  Will I do the fifty mile hike with the Boy Scout troop when it comes around again?  Backpacking hasn't been my forte since I had back surgery at the age of 24.  Still, I can hike better than I can do anything these days.  If they plan the canoe trip to Lake Ozette, I'm there.  It's a five mile paddle into camp.  What?  No two mile portages?  No twelve mile daily paddles for six or seven days?  That's practically car camping.  When they told me how easy it was to get in, I was a little disappointed.  Still, it's out on the Olympic Peninsula.  It's got to be beautiful.  I could handle that.  Maybe it would be good to ease myself back in.  The dog will help.  I walk between two and six miles almost every other day.  The next time the Scouts have a day hike, I intend to go and slog along behind.  I'll be building up over the summer so that ten miles won't seem like so much to Nick and I.  Will Mike be able to join us?  I hope so.  As the new Scout Master, officially as of yesterday, he's going to need to keep moving.  This is going to be healthy for all of us. 

Plus, I want to convince Mike to take Nick and I out to paddle the Snoqualmie between Fall City and Carnation.  That's not a bad section of river, though I never take it for granted.  The river can be deceptive.  Just ask the three or four people who drown in it every summer.  Oh right, you can't.  Still, Nick is almost ready.  He is getting to be a stronger paddler.  He'll need to work on his draw stroke, his cross-draw, and his brace.  He'll need to learn to watch for rocks and guess which way Mike would take him around it.  I had the great gift of wanting to go around the other way so that Mike and I would frequently be working against each other.  We learned to communicate as we paddled, and to accommodate the other's movements, no matter what they were.  Mike and I learned about depending upon each other.  In the canoe, in life.  It was the same thing. 

Imagine going into the wilderness with just one other person and a dog.  You have everything you need for the seven days, but you have a plan to get from one place to another.  There's usually about twelve miles of paddling involved each day.  There are portages for which you carry everything you packed plus the canoe.  There are meals to cook, wildlife to greet or avoid.  Have you ever stared down a hungry mouse that is just waiting to jump into the food pack while you're turned around to cook?  Bears be damned.  Hanging the bear bag was mostly to keep the rodents out of our food. 

Yes, when you travel together in this way, you learn how to depend upon each other.  You learn to jump up to help even when you're tired from paddling all day in the sun.  You begin to believe that you can make it through anything together.  You haven't had a child together yet, though being consistent, firm, and loving with the dog is kind of a beginning.  Yes, I have slept with Mike in two sleeping bags that were zipped together with a sandy, stinky dog lying between us because the fall weather turned early and she didn't have fur thick enough to keep warm on her own.  I have also learned to sew a light-weight, water resistant dog bed with a closed-cell foam insert and a Velcro quilt that fit over the top.  I still remember trying to sleep in that grit, with that dog, who smelled of fish and snuggled her back to my husband and shoved her paws into me.  We loved that dog. 

Oh, and I should tell you that this trip, the one I'm describing, was our honeymoon.  It was the best honeymoon I could ever imagine.  I wouldn't change a thing, except, perhaps, to have sewn that camping dog bed a little sooner.  I miss those days, our days out on the water.

Thank you for listening, jb

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