I went on a hike yesterday.
That sentence alone will probably result in numerous phone calls from anyone that knows me, inquiring about my mental state. Some will wonder if perhaps there was a monetary reward involved, or if Rigel lured me there with the false promise of a steak cookout and simultaneous full-body massage. There'll be a few religious fanatics who may view it as a sure sign of the apocalypse and in the next few days will be stocking their homes with bottled water, canned goods and all five seasons of American Idol on DVD.
As you may have gathered, no one would ever describe me as the "outdoorsy" type. My family never went on camping excursions when I was young - my memories of outdoor activities are limited to the occasional picnic and our annual clam digging trip to Pismo Beach. Even so, I would be hard pressed to describe what a clam actually looks like or how they were dug up, but I can provide details about the linens in our motel and the fact that the kitchenette had a red and white tablecloth that was nailed to the table. And most of these activities were at my mother's insistence - if it were up to my dad we would have stayed home and learned about nature from reruns of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom like most normal people did.
As fate would have it, I'm married to a man who doesn't share my indifference towards nature, one who has a great respect for the outdoors and who is forced to consider his fate when he sees his wife trying to discern the difference between a tree limb and an old metal pipe. When we were dating I remember excitedly mentioning to a group of friends that he was taking me on a 'hiking date.' The laughter was deafening, but after a few minutes one of them managed to compose himself enough to ask, "And will this hike take place through Bloomingdales or are you going to really rough it over at Macy's?"
It's not from a lack of trying - the poor guy has made numerous attempts to help me find my inner sherpa, and for a short time he did. We spent fourteen days of our honeymoon camping up the coast all the way to Seattle, and except for the time I wept hysterically when I couldn't get cell phone reception along the Columbia River Gorge, I did fine. But some time after having children, camping and hiking became an enigma to me once again, and I reverted to regarding them with the same sort of disinterest reserved for other outrageous activities such as fire-walking or cleaning the oven.
Unfortunately Kira has inherited my ambivalence towards the great outdoors - an ideal trail for her would be one that is fully paved and with a souvenir stand every fifty feet. So while Rigel and Kiyomi forged ahead, blazing a trail through the overgrown brush, her and I lagged behind, Kira letting out an occasional squeal when a blade of grass grazed her calf and me squealing louder when I mistook a boulder for a mountain lion. She had her iPod with her and at one point, as Rigel was showing us a lizard, Kira ignored him and said to me with excitement, "Look! I've got a hundred songs on here!" Rigel was determined to get this band of misfits in line, though, and walked defiantly ahead, pretending not to hear when I yelled that I may have lost a limb on that last clump of jagged chaparral. I have to admit I don't set a very good example; when he suggested we continue further up the trail I volunteered to stay back with Kira and help her reorganize all her mp3s into new playlists.
We're taking a trip to Yosemite next week and Rigel made it a point to reserve a cabin that has neither a T.V. nor a telephone, which means we'll be forced to partake in this tiresome hiking fad once again, not to mention various other outdoor activities he's mentioned just to fill us with dread. But I'm going to try and be a role model for my girls and show them that not only is Mother Nature their friend, but a darn fine teacher as well. And just in case they figure out that I'm full of crap, I'll have their GameBoys and iPods packed away in that secret compartment in my suitcase, right next to my laptop.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I went on a hike yesterday.