It was a beautiful day and all was well as we hiked along the trail. A slight breeze was moving through the trees. There were no insects stalking us. I felt like I was getting away with something by stealing time for a hike before work with my husband, son and grandson. Pa had planned a hike that would take approximately 3 hours unbeknownst to me. I thought when we had started our trek to Turtle Arch that we would be back at the truck for lunch by 12:30 or so…a slight miscommunication, typical for married folk who have been together for so many years. Each one thinks the other is on the same plane of thought. Maybe, that is just a guy-girl thing and has nothing to do with marriage at all. This sort of miscommunication would have been a minute issue had our seven year old grandson not been along. The distance was not a problem as he is a strong individual that has spent plenty of time hiking with his nature loving mother. The issue was what most mothers would think about but eludes the minds of a man…replenishing the energy expended by the strenuous hike. IF I had known it was in the plans to be back to the truck for lunch at one thirty or two o'clock I would have tossed some M&M's in the back pack. Maybe, even an apple or two. As the journey led us to nice little fishing spots for Pa to throw a line in, William and Silas to sword fight and explore and me to watch and admire my clan through the lens of my camera, the time passed quickly. The infamous question that breaks the sound barrier on any journey found its way out of my mouth. "How much further to the destination?" My husband, the granddad simply said, "I've never been there. I'm thinking no more than another half hour to an hour." I began doing the math and came up with a mother's dilemma. If it indeed took another half hour and then the time there and back would put us at the truck for lunch at two o'clock. We ate breakfast at nine o'clock. Five hours between meals would be somewhat fine IF we were not hiking rambunctiously through the forest with a seven year old. As not to present a power of suggestion moment, I looked at my husband and again presented an infamous question all men hear from their little woman periodically, "What were you thinking?" Out of earshot from the younger generation, I proclaimed the idiocies of hiking for hours with children and no food. The quick energy concept and how children…and his wife…process food faster than men. After the nagging tongue lashing, I then began to tally up alternatives. "How many peppermints do you have," I asked. "Three," he answered. Great. My wonderful hike out in the forest with butterflies, dragonflies and smells that calm the spirit quickly became a survival hike that pricked my mind and made me march to a different drummer. So as to save our marriage Pa decided we would turn back. We cheerfully proclaim, as not to discourage, "Fellows, about face… this is where we start heading back down the trail." Both boys comply and we began heading towards the direction of essentials. It doesn't take long before Silas announces what I have been dreading to hear, as I know once the thought becomes spoken it can no longer be avoided, "This is impossible!" Getting Pa to give me a peppermint, I unwrap it and hand it to Silas. "Here you go buddy, this will give you some energy." Hand to mouth usual works in most cases but in this one it didn't. The peppermint went into his hand, his hand to his mouth and somewhere towards the entry; it jumped out of his grasp and rolled down the hill. Great. Two peppermints left. No, wait, one is all there is left as I turn to see Pa placing a pepo into his mouth. The ole power of suggestion must have kicked in and the true issue of getting this young man back to the truck without carrying him must have eluding his thinking and made him think only of satisfying his immediate desire. Yet another male trait that continues to create issues for the female agenda. Silas is then given the last pepo and advised to carefully hold onto it until his mouth is ready to close around it. With great success, the pepo is in and we have another hour to go without anything else to sustain our offspring.
I told Silas he would receive an energy boost from this peppermint if he held it in his mouth and let it slowly dissolve without chewing. He proudly told me has we walked along, that he still had it. All was well again and eventually he was running along the path acting out pirate scenarios with William. Just as with anything going well, running smooth, there tends to be a moment when you know all has changed. Similar to driving down the highway, at 65 miles an hour, listening to your favorite tunes, chatting with those accompanying you…when out of no where your tire blows out and the mood is stricken with responsibility and survival. This is exactly the case as we traipsed down the trail only for Silas's sugar rush to dissipate. Miraculously, a really nice fishing hole appeared and Pa announced, "Here's the keys, I'll meet you back at the truck. I'm gonna try and catch a few on the way back." William's pace increased and I was left with the ultimate responsibility of coaxing Silas up and down the trail to the truck. And so the dialogue began.
"Mimi," as if practicing his manly man voice for future use, "I'm dying here!"
"Oh, Silas, you aren't dying, you experiencing the desire to quit when you know deep inside you can't quit. If you stop you don't make it to the truck."
"I AM DYING HERE! I will not make it to the truck! It is impossible!"
"You know how to eat an elephant, Silas?"
I got his attention I could see and his paced picked up.
"No, how?" he asked.
"One bite at a time. It is so big it looks like it could never be eaten, but it can, one bite at a time."
"THIS has nothing to do with elephants!!!!" He said with a tone that probably sucked more energy out of him than the walk itself.
"Oh, it does, Silas," and I picked up my feet slowly and deliberately and with exaggeration set them down giving emphasis to each step. "The walk back to the truck is just like eating an elephant piece by piece. It is not impossible. It will be accomplished one step at a time."
He spoke some more about how it was not anything close to being the same, but I could see that he made the connection. We rounded the bend to find three grown men standing around what looked to be a boy a few years younger than Silas. They were heading the direction we came. The child was sitting on a bench. They were standing around him with that look of what to do with the boy. It was apparent the boy was having the same issues as Silas. However, there was no "pain is just weakness leaving the body" speech coming from these men. From the looks of their overgrown bellies and their slumped shoulders, I believe each one was rooting the boy on with their psyche to actually give up. Like it would be in their favor. Silas was not embarrassed or intimidated by this gathering and continued his discouraging "it's impossible" speech. I, too, continued my "we can do this thing" speech as we passed. I imagined that they looked at each other after hearing us and shook their head because no sooner had we passed did the crew fall in pursuit in direction of the parking lot. It was perfect timing as suddenly Silas decided he was not taking another step.
"Okay, Si," I said as I continued to walk, "After you decide to walk back, follow this trail to the parking lot. I'll be there waiting with lunch."
Silas doesn't care for people he doesn't know and he was clear of them in no time walking close to me. Now, I am not certain as to whether this is because he didn't want to be near the strangers or if he just wanted to continue the arguing, nevertheless, he was walking again.
I offered him my hand. Blaatt! No way! I encouraged him to take it as he could benefit from the energy I had that would flow from my hand to his. He wasn't having it. I suggested positive statements, like, "I can, I will" with each step. He advised he doesn't work that way. And our conversation went in circles. It was impossible; he was going to die out there. I would talk about how we had a good lunch in the truck to eat after we performed the impossible.
When we were about 100 steps of the parking lot, I told him and he denied the reality of it. Then at about 50 I told him, count 50 steps and you'll be there….Never, it was impossible…When we reached the parking lot I exclaimed, "Silas, you did it!!!!! You did the impossible!"
I guess he wasn't finished arguing…because he looked at me and with all sincerity said, "This is not where we parked. This is not our truck."
Just like a male, isn't it…a woman pulls him through…helps him achieve the impossible…with no credit and a totally different rendition of what just transpired.
As for the grandpapa…he showed up about ten minutes after we reached the truck. Of course, he caught a good size fish. Or so was the tale. Personally, I think he stood behind a tree waiting for us to get farther enough ahead of him and then started out on his own little tranquil walk to the truck.
What do you think?