Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walking in the Sun

If you look very carefully you can see our house up on the hill, behind those Garry oaks.
Well, provided you have really good eyesight...

It was a perfectly glorious day here on the Wet Coast today. The kind that lulls me into thinking that winter might not be so horrible after all. The kind that makes me think "Gosh, the winters here aren't so bad, really." The kind that gives me hope that I might, just might, not moan and kvetch my way through the rest of the winter. And yes, I do know that winter hasn't officially made it here yet. I do, really I do.

I should know better, shouldn't I?

Anyhow, with it being so sunny and all, and with me having woken up early and seen the full moon setting right across the street, surrounded with all that wonderfully atmospheric pink and blue mood lighting, I wasn't in much of a mood to make sure my kids did some improving schoolwork clean my pigsty of a house do anything, really.

Housework? Ugh.
Laundry? Ick.
Think about dinner? Nope.
Grocery shopping? Boooring.

I did have to briefly fight the urge to pack up and head south in a caravan, chasing the warmer weather all the way to Peru or somewhere. Yes, I know, terribly mature of me. But there was a time in the not too distant past when I would have done exactly that. Well, a time in the not too distant past before I acquired a husband, three kids, a cat, a guinea pig, a hat collection, a cold frame, an asparagus bed, and a lot of fruit trees. It's kind of hard to fit all that into a caravan and still have my own private bathroom space, though, so now I tend to stay put, repressing my Inner Weather Diva until spring. Mature AND responsible, c'est moi.

Anyhow, it was a lovely day, so we went walking around Bird Lake. We put on our rubber boots, I grabbed the camera, and off we went.

We met the cat that lives at the lake's edge first. It purred and miaowed as we went by. We stopped to stroke it, and in the ways cats are wont to do, it stuck its bum right in my face. "She's so soft and furry," I said to FDPG. "That cat is a boy," she replied, "I just know it." "Did you check?" I asked. "Nope," she said, tossing her head a bit at my obvious thickheadedness. Max snorted as I said "But this cat hasn't got any testicles, like Toffee does. I think this cat is a girl cat." "Humph, it's black all over, it should be a boy," was all she said. Yup, I thought: black, furry, miaows a lot, that says male to me, too. But she was already stomping her way along the footpath.
Boy, does that kid hate being wrong.

We continued down the path.

We saw some lovely red rosehips.

We also saw a lot of bird nests in those lovely red rosehips. FDPG remarked at every bird nest she saw. Max remarked at every bird nest he saw. A few minutes after they'd both done so, Dominic remarked at every bird nest he saw. I found myself nodding and saying "Wow" a lot more than I'd expected to. And wondering if any of my kids needed hearing aids.

We walked across a wooden bridge, listening to the clamour of the birds in the bushes. They followed us along the bridge, flitting in and out of the dense scrub bush around us, and periodically zipping back and forth across the path. They were clearly delighted with the weather. Fortunately my Inner Weather Diva was too, and I was able to bask in the almost warm sunshine.

We paused at the edge of the lake, awed by the periodic carpets of algae, green and glistening in the sun. The kids got sticks and poked and poked, stirring up the sleeping turtles as they did so.

We had just started across the floating bridge when the kids noticed something weird on the surface of the lake. Spiders, seemingly millions of them, scattering across the water with the wind, all headed towards the rushes by the edge of the lake. They were slipping over the water, skidding and spinning, with the breezes. But these didn't look like your average aqua-arachnid. We stood staring, until FDPG shouted "We have to do something!"

I leaned over, with Max's bullrush, and scooped up one. We examined it closely, but it seemed rather nonchalant about its brief water trek. I put it on the rails of the bridge and we all watched it scutter away. It was then that I noticed more spiders, walking on the rails, hanging from the rails, swinging by their threads over the water. And they were all the same: small and brown.

What's more, they were all going the same way.

I think it was at that moment that I realized we were all wondering the same thing: was a basilisk going to rear up out of the water at any second? Something large, perhaps, named Aragog? Or a Chamber of Secrets, newly opened, and these spiders were heralds, warning us of imminent disaster. Whatever it was, we all felt slightly panicky, seeing those skidding, slipping spiders.

It was weird, not to mention slightly distressing, seeing them skating across the water. Some had obviously given up and were lying in little pathetic balls in the surface, while other, still energetic spiders zipped by them, buoyed by the wind.
So we did the only thing we could think of in the circumstances: we formed a Spider Rescue Team.

All thoughts of Chambers and giant basilisks were forgotten.

FDPG scooped them up.

Max scooped them up.

Dominic didn't scoop many up, but he did rush around yelling "We're the Spider Rescue Team!" in case anyone forgot.

And yes, I scooped them up too. When I wasn't documenting our heroic efforts, that is. I'm irritating tireless like that.

But eventually we tired of rescuing spiders, sad as that may sound. The supply of skating spiders seemed infinite. They were jettisoning all around us, endlessly. And while I do like little spiders, my urge to keep a loose Prime Directive of sorts reasserted itself.

"Come on!" I said, "this is getting tedious. Let's keep walking. Basilisks be damned."

Our duck friend, who had kept rather tight-lipped up till then, evidently agreed with us, because he pushed off from where he'd been loitering near the shore (guarding mysterious openings?) and paddled across the lake, following us to the other side. The kids wondered why he wasn't eating the spiders. "Maybe he has poor eyesight and can't see them," I said. The kids thought this was one of the more hilariously idiotic things I've said. Heck, we all have corneas, don't we?

So we continued wandering around the lake, the boys continuing to poke things with sticks.





I saw a strange giantess of a creature, silhouetted against the grass, and stole her soul for my own personal amusement. Yes, Gentle Reader, this is about as close as you'll ever get to seeing me. But hey, it's a pretty good likeness of me: two legs, long coat, shoulders, head.

Entirely gray.

Yep, that's me.

The kids dashed off into the rushes, playing hide and seek with each other, until Dominic remembered a cougar sighting we'd heard about here a few weeks back and raced back to the path, telling FDPG breathlessly that "Gosh, a cougar could attack us at any moment."

And after all that fun and excitement, we went home, winding slowly along the path in the bright afternoon sun, basilisks and skating spiders forgotten. We walked along the paths where we'd seen grasshoppers laying eggs among the rocks in late summer. We swung on the rope swing over the creek by the willow. We watched FDPG slide along the mud when she fell off the rope swing over the creek by the willow. We watched her scowl. And then we climbed the hill, and Toffee came bounding down the road to meet us. "Well, at least we know he's a boy, don't we, Mum. He has testicles - I can see them," muttered FDPG.

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