Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Home, part II

I'm posting this as Girl leaves with S to head back to Michigan for a few days, not our Home, but Saugatuck, which is pretty damn close to it. If you missed the first part, click here to read part I. Continue on here with part II:

Our tummies happy, and full of cheese dogs (we eat simple to maximize “out time”), we set out towards the dunes for our next adventure – walking off our lunch! I think I managed to convince SmallBoy that barefooting was not bad, he quite enjoyed it. We walked down the dirt roads, feeling the sand work it’s way in between each toe. Part of being barefoot, is sucking it up when you step on something. Gravel was tolerable, sticks were ok as long as they didn’t find their way under a toenail, but Super-“Hey-SmallBoy,-why-don’t-you-go-barefoot”-Mom, managed to step on a BIG rock that had lodged itself in the road. As the pain shot through my foot, I had to choke back the urge a) to yell out one obscenity after the other and b) to be a big baby because I had an owie. Instead I let out the tiniest of whimpers; enough that PC could catch on that I had done something or other, but not enough to let SmallBoy catch on and become worried that he, too, might suffer the same fate. By no stretch of the imagination was this just a tiny-whimper-able pain. The pain zinged its way through my heel, and reminded me more and more of my carelessness with every step…at least for the next 20 or 30 steps. I bucked up and walked it off. Try as I might to keep SmallBoy from experiencing my pain, Fate saw fit to place another rock in the road, this one with his name on it. Somehow, though, I think my example helped him to suck it up…he knows I’m a wuss. I could almost see the gears turning in his brain thinking out the logistics of this incident, “Hmmm, Mom’s a big baby when it comes to pain and SHE was ok and walked it off. Perhaps it doesn’t hurt as much as I think it does. I’ll just be a big kid and walk it off.” And that’s exactly what he did.

Both of our heels recovered in time to take the curve and walk down the gravel road leading to the Mama Dune, the largest and steepest of the dunes that are accessible for hiking. Behind the Mama Dune is, of course, the Daddy Dune, but he’s much too tall for my liking and, much too overgrown for climbing (this is beginning to sound like a story about a little blonde girl and some bears, isn’t it?). Mama looked rather intimidating to me and, conveniently my knee had begun to ache – no, seriously, it really did. I thought it would be much more important for PC & SmallBoy to get some more male bonding time together, so I opted to stay put in the warm sand while the boys began their upward trek. As I lay in the sand, feeling the sun begin to tingle my skin, I had the opportunity to witness a grasshopper, carefully camouflaged with its surroundings, as it leapt from one patch of dune grass to the next. It was rather intriguing to watch this tiny little creature carefully stalk something, watch its prey escape, and then witness its graceful flight to the next target.

When I looked up from my grasshopper observations, SmallBoy and PC were almost up the dune. SmallBoy was getting a little discouraged and began to give up. Instead, PC urged him forward. I couldn’t hear what he said, but it was something to the effect of, “Hey, SmallBoy, you’re already farther than Mom – look where she is!” Nah, he didn’t say that, but I wonder if the thought crossed his mind. With PC’s cheering, SmallBoy made it to the top. I looked up at them and thought about how wonderful and comforting it is that PC is so incredible with my SmallBoy. Not many men will take to a step-child, especially one who needs so much extra love and guidance, and not only help him and teach him, but love him and treat him with the respect that he deserves. I can see how much PC genuinely loves SmallBoy – and all of my children, but this observation was with SmallBoy. He loves him as if he were his own blood. Part father, part teacher, part cheerleader, part Good Cop, and part Bad Cop; that’s what I see. The love just pours out of PC…and so does the fun and adventure. No sooner had I finished having this wonderful moment with my guys, did they begin their descent down the dune, barreling toward the bottom like racehorses let loose from the gate. PC had already warned SmallBoy about where to keep his body weight to minimize the odds of falling, but really - isn’t that the goal, to fall down the dune? It truly is just a matter of how far down the fall happens and how magnificently the fall is executed.

About a quarter of the way down, SmallBoy wiped out, face first into the sand. PC stopped and sat to catch his breath, while SmallBoy laid there motionless, arms and legs strewn into funky positions. I can’t honestly say that I knew without a doubt that he was ok; I suspected he was just fine, but I’m a mom, the immediate instinct is the injured child. My first thought was, “OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! SmallBoy’s hurt!” Of course he wasn’t, it was just the drama and the trauma of the fall, oh yes, and the face full of sand. The fear was fleeting as he started flopping around in an attempt to justify how the fall was absolutely NOT his fault and WHY did he fall and it was SO NOT FAIR that he fell. I think his outburst was a little bit of Aspie and a lot of trying to save face – he is, after all, a male. Checked ego in tow, and a bounding PC at his side, SmallBoy finished the descent down the dune – laughing, screaming, running full speed and, of course, completing the run by telling me I was a wuss for not going. Little did the guys know that they would have had to carry me back to the cottage, because my knees were not very happy, and probably would have totally cashed out on me had I trekked up and run down the Mama Dune.

Having come down from the proverbial mountain, we headed over to the Sugar Bowl dune. This one is not nearly as large or as intimidating. It is named for the high back and sides of the dune, and the dip as it curves inward – like a bowl, known as a parabolic dune. The dune, itself, may not seem intimidating, but it is the source of some local park lore. I can’t remember the year, but I believe it was early 20th century, as it was originally told, two boys, had been tunneling in the dune when it had collapsed on them, burying them alive. The boys were never seen again, no bodies recovered. If I remember correctly, there was also another part of that story about the ghost of the mother wandering the dunes in search of her boys. That was enough to make the hair on my arms stand on end while feeling the chill run up and down my spine. Every tale has a basis of fact, however, and this one is no exception. It seems that a family living near the dunes had sent out two boys, not necessarily their sons, to do some work for them. The boys never returned. The husband set out in search of the boys, but returned with nothing to show…except that he was missing a shoe, according to an eyewitness. He was overheard on a payphone at the general store telling someone that he was going to need two more boys. A crew finally went searching for the missing boys, and found them dead, buried in the dunes. They also found 5 shoes, two for each boy and one mysterious extra. Creepy huh? Wait, it gets better. Many years later, the family returned to the home. The husband was long deceased and the wife on Death’s door, traveling with her children one last time, presumably to die at the summer home. It seems that she died just before or just after they arrived. For the duration of the stay, the family propped her up in her rocking chair on the porch…overlooking the Sugar Bowl.

I digress…. we three, mother, father, & child, hoofed it up to the top of the Sugar Bowl without much difficulty. Even PC & SmallBoy, still recovering from their escapade with the Mama Dune, had recovered enough to climb the Sugar Bowl without too much effort. We walked across the sand, not quite hot under the sun’s rays, and found a nice shady spot to relax. The difference in the sand temperature was like jumping out of the hot tub into the swimming pool, instant relief. We rested for what seemed to be ample time for SmallBoy, tore down the dune like a snowballs down a mountain, and headed back towards the cottage. Once again, we chose to take the beach route, this time from the southernmost part of our community.

The water had warmed enough to consider swimming. The waves had grown in size and strength since the morning, and the guys were anxious to go try them out! As we walked back, SmallBoy and PC discussed their strategies for tackling the waves and, perhaps, building a sand castle. Once again, we headed back to the cottage, filled a cooler with beer, juice, sun block – oh, no, we forgot the sun block, but we had the beer and the juice, grabbed our beach chairs and our towels, left our shoes behind and headed back to the beach.

Check back for Part III coming soon. Let me know what you think so far, perhaps I'll use this whole piece as a chapter of something or other.


Anonymous said...

I love it! It sounds like it was a great experience for all of you! Can't wait for Part III. Very, very proud of the "sucking it up" part when you hurt your foot -- you have grown up! - M

mommyguilt said...

Thanks, Mom. Much appreciated. Nice to know that at almost 37 I've finally grown up...teee heeee
Love you Lady!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love reading about one of my favorite places on earth. I love hearing how PC loves it as much as he does..and I love him teaching Smallboy where to frog. One time he and his brother filled a friend's tub (luckily we don't have one) with about 50 frogs. Talk about a good sport!! I also love that you 'get' the beauty of the place!! We are so lucky!! Meem

mommyguilt said...

Oh my GOD!!!!!!!!!! 50 Frogs!!!!??? I'm heading up to bed now...think I'll go get the rest of the scoop on this story!

Kristina Chew said...

Am I feeling lucky that we are literally a block from the beach here! That would have been a challenging walk for Charlie---certainly the way back, all covered with sand. Small Boy got through it great ---- Charlie has done the same thing after a fall like he had, of wanting me not to make a fuss of it (an insult to his "boyly dignity," I guess!).