But with the weather warming, the sun hanging around past dinner time, and with it having been a whole year without my ever having gone, I had run out of excuses. So, one recent evening I asked Guy if he'd like to go on a walk with me. He was what I call happy-hesitant. Guy has to "buffer" for a little bit before he can shift gears and add something unplanned to the day. When he was finished buffering, we threw on shoes and sweaters and set out ambitiously on "a family walk"; Guy and I, Tessa, Jonah and little Nano, the other kids being off on adventures of their own.
But I HATE being dictated to by crabby body parts. "Let's do it!" I told the gang, and started charging up the slope. (And by charging, I mean carefully picking my way up the pine-needle covered hill). My sweetie, who usually does things at his own pace, chose to hang close to me, his hand often reaching for my lower back to steady me on the steeper parts of the trail. I have to say, though I am an independent chick, feeling his protective hand on my back was my very favorite part of the hike.
The hills in every direction were awash with dusky pastels; pinks and blues and grey-greens. It was stunning. We could not only see Jackson, Sutter Creek, and further off, Ione, we could even see the tall buildings of Downtown Sacramento, well over an hour away. The Littles gathered wildflowers in small mounds, free to pick as many as they liked, while Guy and I pointed out familiar sights from our surprising new vantage point. Soon, the sun began it's slow but steady dip below the horizon, the deep pumpkin colored orb creeping away behind a low purple cloud that hugged the horizon, until it went from a slice, to a sliver, to a vanishing glowing speck. We paused for a comforting breath and sigh, and then sort of reverently gathered ourselves, our wild flowers and walking sticks, and headed for the trail.
As we headed back down the trail, I was surprised at how suddenly the path had dimmed. Guy and I pretended we were sure we would get back before dark, just to extend the children's fading bravery a few minutes more. But it was a farce. Before we were halfway home, we were struggling, and by the time we could see the distant lights of our windows across the creek, we could no longer see our own feet. Jonah and Natalie went from questions, to whimpers, to tears. I started to sing silly songs, and it helped for a bit, until Guy mentioned a little too loudly that because of the dark he maybe wasn't quite sure of the way to the shrub-encrusted path across the creek. Tears became morose wails that we were NEVER going to find out way home, EVER, and we were for SURE going to be lost in the woods all night, and maybe get gobbled up by a bear and diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!
The moon began to come over the ridge, and though only a quarter, threw just enough light to completely freak the kidlets out, and we were still a ways from the house. I tried to convince them that the moon was kindly lighting our way, and look! We could see our own shadows!
"It's scary! I hate this! Are there bears?"
Tess, much to the relief of all, finally located the hidden trail leading to the house. Jonah bellowed that he was NEVER going to hike to the lookout again...ever! We stumbled down the hillside and bumbled across the creek. The last 100 yards before the house, it's path well worn by the kids own feet, gave The Little's the security to open up and tell us how they REALLY felt. I'll spare you.
I'll admit that the house felt very warm and inviting when we opened the door. I sat with Jonah boy and Nano on the couch and listened to the epic story of our near demise. Then I got up to make quesadillas and cocoa, which heals all wounds.
I wish I could say the rest of the night got better.
Not so much.
Other stuff happened that night that is unblogable,
and some things can't be fixed with cocoa and cheese, but that's parenting.