Like so many of us, I foolishly asked my family to go on a “big long walk.” Words when slurred together in our house sound like one giant obscenity of the worst variety. The kind that implies exercise.
I enjoy the BLW probably more than anyone—but like Green Day, I walk alone.
I see families with a dog, sometimes one dog per happy, excited-to-be-alive-and-together-family-member and I think, did I remember to say ‘yogurt’ on the grocery list I’m making in my head? If not—yogurt, yogurt, yogurt. Mango-apricot, Liberte, yogurt. Did I mouth the words so passersby know I’m talking to myself? Check.
The kids, dogs, parents, all appropriately dressed for winter hiking weather, smile and walk and talk. No one has their flimsy coat gaping open so there’s no need for anyone to angrily remind them to zip it up. No one is holding an eyeball because a sibling thought it would be fun to throw an ice ball at them. No one is mourning the loss of a Netflix bender. Just walking. Just talking. Family.
Enter the five of us.
People didn’t recognize me with others around me. I think I’ve passed the same people so often on these paths, they always just pity-wave and call me, “Kim” or “Lyn” or another easy-to-pronounce, generic woman’s name, but today, I was a married, Mom-of-three (seeking pets) with an outdoorsy two or more syllable name like “Heidi” or “Imogen” who has a life outside of this intricate trail system and a husband who wears jeans on a hike. Not because he has to, but because, yeah, he has to.
I find myself looking for cute, hiking clothes; lined pants, high socks, layers, think layers and yogurt, do we have yogurt?
My little one comes out of her room in a sporty bra that must have belonged to one of her sisters, some paper thin leggings, ankle socks exposing a 3” gap of soon-to-be frost bitten skin, a dressy cardigan you would wear to say, a masquerade ball to cover one, exposed shoulder and a necklace, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” in neon, block letters.
The older two have made similar-to-each-other attempts to change out of what they were wearing (hiking wear) into some expression of pajama-chic. Works for our purposes.
Greg slides on a pair of old dress shoes, “They’re the only shoes I have for hiking so if you want to drag me out, just let me wear what I want” implied. He didn’t actually say anything.
He grabs a windbreaker (it’s -12) a golf glove, sunglasses that still have some sort of flotation strap on them in case we become fully submerged somewhere and we hit the mini-van!
“Wait, we have to drive? Why can’t we just walk around the neighbourhood?” an eager hiker asks.
“Because you’ll make it as far as Dave’s house two doors down and hope he’s waiting at the door with a cold beer and a football game to talk about.”
“So we actually have to drive somewhere to walk somewhere?”
When we arrived at the entrance to the trail, my family looked bewildered. “How did you know this was even here?” “Are you allowed to just walk around in here?” “Are we trespassing?” “Is there a gift shop?”
“What if there are wild animals?”
There are. I hope they’ll get out of my minivan and join me for a walk.
“Guys, look at the other cars. There are other people here already enjoying nature. Come on!”
Our nine year old skipped a few feet ahead, long enough for me to grab a pic to post to create the illusion we’re normal, then laid down on her back on a dusting of snow and proceeded to try her luck at a snow angel, sweeping her arms down once to wipe away the layer of snow and up once to smear a generous amount of mud onto her new coat. Pants now muddied and wet, Greg bent over his shoe horn still at the entrance.
I took a deep breath and sighed. At least they all agreed to come and spend this time togeth….whack. Yep, snowy-mud ball down the back of my coat. Awesome.
The teenager made it a couple of steps inside the gate before snap-mapping for park rangers to get the WiFi password.
I’ll just skip ahead to the big fall. Assume along the way, while others passed us smiling, playfully bumping into each other, sharing secrets and cuddling pets, our family pulled tree branches that snapped hard into the next, unsuspecting person, sometimes just to drop a pant-load of snow on them but mostly to try to hook them in the eyes.
“When do we turn back?”
We don’t. We follow the loop, it’s a trail. (in my smallest, whisper of a voice I may have mentioned the very tiny hill we would need to breezily saunter up to complete the loop—shhhhh).
“What the hell is this? We have to climb this? I’m wearing the shoes from our wedding!” (still trying to figure out how this could be my fault).
No one spoke the twelve steps up the hill. The kids furled their eyebrows and soldiered on, Greg saved his energy to pray for death, I asked people what kind of dog they had and if the paws that pricked clean through my sporty, hiking pants would leave a hole or if the blood would act as a patch.
Thud. Greg’s down.
His phone is in a puddle, his keys on a branch, floating sunglasses surprisingly in tact.
Happy hiking everyone.
Can I come with your family?