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>Nature is Food for the Soul

March 26, 2010


Or, so she says.

My friend Renae. She is a nature freak. Growing up in the wilds of Alabama, she is more at home on a mountain than in her own living room. She was the one who dragged me out of my post-baby coma into the Santa Cruz mountains at only 6 weeks postpartum, post c-section. She hauled me up and down our local hills, when all I wanted to do was sleep. She even carried Scoob, b/c I was still too weak to even schlep his 7 lb self.

But I did it. And that baby-weight magically dissappeared under her ministrations.

She has a reputation in our circle – we’ve all said we’re going to print up t-shirts that say “I survived an “easy” hike with Renae!”

You see, what she calls “easy” is what a normal human being would call hard. What she calls hard could kill you. Really.

On Thursday, I took a mental-health day and kept Scrappy with me. We needed some one-on-one time. I called one batch of friends, but they were going to be indoors. I needed fresh air, so I called Renae. Astonishinly, she was free, and eagerly accepted my invitation to hike. “It has to be toddler-proof, though, hon. I’ve got Scrappy, today.”

No problem, she says.

She suggested Hidden Villa. A charming, historical organic farm that I’ve been to twice with Scoob. The stroll through the farm ends in the forest with an easy meander up to a huge, mossy granite behomoth that the kids love to crawl over, complete with creek and lots of banana slugs.

Perfect, I thought! I had yet to take Scrappy there, and I know he’ll love it.

Sidebar: while Scooby enjoys the outdoors, it’s a hard sell just to get him out of the house. He’s my home-body. Scrap, on the other hand, thrives out of doors. If he’s grumpy, we go outside and it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Wanna go for a ride, Scrappy? Yis! Always. He loves to be out and about. I knew he would all the animals, and even the woods.

What I didn’t bargain for was…


I should have known.

Off we trooped through the charming vegetable garden. We visited the darling, bleating little lambs. We yodeled at the cows. We marveled at the dozens of laying chickens (one, who performed right before our very eyes. I wonder – is that painful??) I managed to hide my TOTAL and UTTER terror of birds from my child, lest I pass on my ridiculousness. (They look so EVIL! Like they are just looking for a chance to peck you to death. Those beady little eyes…) We laughed at the piglets and then headed into the trees, up the canyon.

A half mile, no more, should bring us to picnic tables and the giant rock.

HA! Little did I know.

She led us along a narrow path.

It got narrower.

And narrower.

And it went straight up. And switched back, and went straight up some more.

Pleased that I was even getting a little workout, I tried not to imagine my dimpled lad sliding down the mountainside into the boulder-ridden creek. Renae, in far better physical condition than I, had him by the hood while I panted along behind.

And we climbed.

And climbed.

And climbed.

At this point it’s occuring to me that once again, when Renae says “easy,” in the immortal words of Innigo Montoya: “You keep saying that word. I doona think that means wha’ you think it means.”
I must stop here and say that Scrappy, despite the nearly vertical climb, is having a blast. He loves it. He’s pointing out ferns and wildflowers and birds and doesn’t mind it a bit. And, you know, I didn’t either. There were shades of green along that canyon that you can’t even imagine. Moss, ferns, and more…it was breathtaking.

I was shooting pictures wildly on my phone. Sadly, they will stay there.

(G!!! A media plan! PLEASSSE!)

It wasn’t until a mile and a half into the vertical hike, and 30 minutes past his normal naptime, that the sweet boy ever even asked to be carried. We alternated between our backs and our fronts and swinging him between us.

Two miles, three creeks, dozens of wildflowers (she knows them ALL by name, and kept quizzing us on bizzarre names like “Hound’s Tongue” and “Milkmaid”) and 42 banana slugs later, I marveled that we’d been there four hours. In that time there wasn’t a single “No!” Not a tantrum, not a whine (from me, OR the two-year-old).

As I carried him through the farm back to the car, so tired he could hardly raise his head, he kept murmurming: “No wanna go home, Mommy. No wanna go home.”

What a perfect day.

(Note: banana slugs are GROSS. See photo. Can you blame me for practically gagging when she PICKED IT UP and PUT IT IN HIS HAND!?? I know they are harmless, and I’m pretty sure, on a dare, I licked one as a kid, but c’mon. EWW.)
4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 3:55 pm

    >Adelle, your writing skills took me on that hike and I enjoyed every virtual step. How blessed you are to have such a fun loving friend who brings her special gifts to your relationship and maybe a blister or two!

  2. March 26, 2010 4:25 pm

    >If a 2 year old can survive me, Renae, anyone can!! Inspired? Call me!! Oh, and I am not crazy b/c there is book to back me up now! Check it out, Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv.

  3. March 26, 2010 5:40 pm

    >Great post! What a fun story (and Mary Lou is right on that your descriptions were so vivid). I also loved the Innigo Montoya quote, ha! Glad you and Scrappy had a great day together. Almost inspiring me to try a Renae hike. Almost.

  4. March 26, 2010 7:23 pm

    >LOVE that you got Innigo in there, and with such perfect reference! I laughed so hard at that point Aaron asked me what was wrong. 🙂 Great story, and I'm glad you had a great day outside-of-doors.

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