Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Trip to the Woods. . . And a Small Crisis Averted. . .

Honestly, those of you who live with heat for months and months of the year, sunhats off to you!

I'm sweltering in our version of a Heat Wave (official Environment Canada website gives a Heat Wave Warning, seriously! 25 to 30 degrees at the coast, higher inland, and no rain in the near forecast.
 But we did get up to the woods where our daughter's family was camping.
 The air is so different just those ninety minutes out of the city, and the temperature so much more bearable under the trees. . .




 I love seeing these city kids get into the woods, seeing how comfortable they are there, even as they explain seriously to me that we have to put all the food and dishes and cooking supplies into the car before we go swimming because we don't want bears to come to our tent. . . .

 I love to see them clambering on a natural playground. . . .
 And I love the green. . .
 and the filtered sunlight
 the fragrance of forest floor and fir needles and resin warming in the sun and the musky smell of ferns and decaying logs. . . and mysterious smells that stir the atavistic brain. . .
 Do the children sense some of that as well? We point out the graceful arc of a vine maple, stretching its slender 30-foot trunk into what my granddaughter sees as a rainbow shape -- she loves the daintyness of its small leaves, more familiar as she is with its larger cousin, the big-leaf maple. We laugh together at the effrontery of a young fir growing from the five-foot-high trunk of a tree chopped down decades ago.
 But mostly, I try not to talk too much,
 I take my cue from this guy. . .
 Watching and wondering. . .



 Let me break that reverie, though, with a little anecdote of a near-crisis, happily averted. . .

The beach was around the lake from the campsite, so we enjoyed the walk there, and then my stalwart son-in-law was dispatched to do some fetch-and-carrying of towels and sand toys and shade tent, etc. that we hadn't wanted to haul on our walk. While we waited, Paul and I got warm enough to take a quick dip and the Littles and their Momma joined us after a bit. By the time Rob had dropped off the shade tent and headed back for one last bundle, we'd dropped our sandals and our little backpacks, my purse, our towels, etc., inside and around, claiming our territory as you do in these situations.

By the time Rob came back with the last load, Paul and I were done swimming and ready to head back to the city before the bridge traffic got nasty. Rob changed into his swimsuit, joined his family in the water for this photo, which I took before we headed to the change rooms, last stop before our car.

At the change room, Paul realized he'd left his towel behind. He held the backpack out for me to grab my clothes from it, so that I could start changing while he ran back. Instead, I offered to keep the pack and handed him his dry pants from it -- he'd already put his shirt on. Not until I'd changed did I notice there was still a set of keys in the pack -- and I didn't recognize them as Paul's. He confirmed that when he got back, and realizing they were Rob's, we both also realized that IF Paul hadn't had to retrieve his towel and had hung on to the pack, simply handing my clothes over to me, from it,  he was much less likely than I to have noticed the keys down at the bottom, and much more likely to have tossed the supposedly empty backpack in the trunk of our car. . . .

In which case, as my son-in-law quickly calculated, as I dangled the keys above him on the beach a minute later, in which case, he and my daughter and the two littles would have been ninety minutes from home, in the woods, locked out of their car which had all the useful stuff (remember that bear-proofing) securely and tantalizingly stowed beyond their reach.

"But really," I reassured, "the inconvenience would mostly be ours -- Paul's really, as he's the one who would likely have to drive the keys back when you phoned to tell us we must have them, that you must have put them in our black pack instead of yours."
To his protest that his phone was locked in the car, safe from beach sand and water and thieves, I nodded, "I know, but you'd be able to call from that park administration kiosk we passed on the way in."
He was already shaking his head against that possibility, but waited patiently as my daughter interrupted that they wouldn't need to do that -- she just needed to charge her phone for a few minutes. . . and then. . . Oh, right, charge it in the car? That's not going to work. . .
So Son-in-law explained why even a borrowed phone wouldn't work, turning to my daughter to ask, "Do you know your parents' phone numbers?"

So I'll stop here to let us all think, for a minute, about what recourse we might have in a similar situation. I think I have some of my kids' numbers written down somewhere, but not somewhere I carry around with me. And even then, I'd probably have locked it in the car, in my purse. . . .Remember looking up numbers in phone books? Remember having them memorized because we dialed them so often? Or even those times we had to get an operator to look the numbers up for us and ask her to call them collect? Quaint, right?

Paul's quite sure that he would have noticed the keys once we got home, because he has a habit of unpacking his wallet, sunglasses, etc., from the small backpack when he puts it away -- and as soon as he noticed them, he would have headed right back to the car, the drive not nearly so pleasant the second time 'round. I'm skeptical, because he'd also brought his leather bag (we don't call it a man-purse in our house!) and his wallet and all the et ceterae were in that.
Rob figured that they could have sought out someone who'd let them borrow a laptop or phone to go online and leave messages for me on social media. . .

And really, they might also have discovered the kindness of strangers.
But just as well that discovery can be saved for another day, right?

So, in the comments today, I'd love to know your favourite place to escape from summer heat (if you're as lucky as I was for twenty-some years, you have only to walk out your door for a swim or to sit in the shade of your garden -- try not to gloat, okay? ;-)
AND/OR you might share your story about a crisis averted -- or not, perhaps there was a dramatic rescue instead -- or your tales about the limitations of modern communication technology and its lack of system backup. . . . 

Oh, and just a reminder, if you're looking for possible titles for your summer reading in that hammock in the shade, I posted my Halfway Through The Year Reading List over at my book blog.

29 comments:

  1. So great for your kids to take their kids camping. It's a major chore camping with kids... so much to think about, so much to pack. Kudos to parents who think it's worth all the hassle. As you know, we camp a lot and I love to see the little kids in the bush, or the semi-bush. It's wonderful for kids to learn about nature close up.
    P.S. About the heat. And shade. When we're cycling or walking the trails near here, it's always amazing to me to feel the coolness in the ground under the trees. Wish we hadn't lost so many shade trees around our house. Not to mention all the ash trees that have been lost in the past few years. The canopy in the city of Ottawa has been diminished by a huge percentage. Bad for everyone.

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    1. It is SO much more work to do with the kids, but pays off for the kids and for the planet, I like to think. . .
      Yes, shade trees. We are always struck by what a difference they make in European cities -- and here as well, in the "leafy neighbourhoods." Now to take back some of that car-scaping and add more trees in the city core. Vancouver's lost a significant percentage of canopy as well, and there's a big push now to replace. . .

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  2. Love the thought of you just looking and wondering just like your grandson. Those pictures are wonderful.
    I would be in a similar position if the phone was locked away. Haven’t got a clue what my kids numbers are, such a good point to bear in mind. Not that I’m probably going to do anything about it. We just don’t carry address and phone number boooks around with us anymore. Such a different world. And as you say I still remember my house phone number from forty five years ago. B x

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    1. Like you, I don't imagine I'll change my ways, but sometimes the limitations of the new ways become sharply obvious!
      I have a slew of old numbers I can't seem to delete -- they occasionally come in handy when I need a new password or pin, except that then I need to remember which I chose 😜

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  3. I haven't been up there for years. It looks as if the littles are having fun. When I was a child, we used to go to Cultus Lake but it's too developed there. Alice Lake is busy but fortunately not overdeveloped. Camping is hard work. I wonder at my mother camping with 4 young kids with no power or running water. We find ourselves lost (sometimes literally) when we are out of cellular range. I don't know my daughter's phone number.

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    1. We used to go to Cultus as well, and Hatzic Lake. So much traffic to contend with now that it wouldn't be worth it.
      I wonder the same way at my parents taking us camping. . .

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  4. What glorious photos! I feel cool just looking at them.
    We are having a heat wave--upper 30s. In the doctor's office, I thought about how cold the air conditioning was and then spied the thermostat--25. So clearly I've adjusted a lot to the heat if 25 feels cold. But 38, 39 is undeniably hot.
    The story of your averted crisis reminds me of my parents, who had caller ID that would flash on their always-on TV. They wouldn't answer any number they didn't recognize. My brother pointed out that if he had a real emergency, he might not be calling with his own phone--either he'd be borrowing one, or somebody would be calling them on his behalf.
    And although I still remember my grandmas' phone numbers and those of all my grade school friends, my brain resists memorizing the numbers of my husband and kid. Because I always type in their names.
    Off to memorize now...

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    1. Yikes!! 25 as cool. . . I was just reading this morning about the way that Environment Canada applies different standards to determine Heat Wave Warnings for different areas of our huge country. Apparently, people do become acclimatized (or not) to higher temperatures, so that our 25-30 degrees is much tougher for us to handle on the West Coast than it would be in, say Ottawa, which is more used to temps in the 30s with humidity at 90%. . .
      Hmm, your story about your parents makes me think about the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone, which I've set to allow only certain numbers to ring through . . .

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  5. Those photos are just wonderful! The nature is so beautiful and so mighty and overpowering -one must feel humble and wondering and connected to the past,present and future at the same time
    Camping is such a great way to spend time with kids and learn a lot of things-it was invaluable experience for me as a kid! The Boy seems like a perfect company (but I'll need some bear security people,too)
    Your crisis(almost horror) story is very illuminating-I know only my home and mobile number
    Well,we have hot and humid and very unpredictable weather now-the best answer is "fjaka"-dolce far niente!
    Dottoressa

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    1. I've been dedicating myself to Fjaka/Doce far niente quite a bit lately ;-)

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  6. I loved camping as a child and am increfibly grateful that my parents took us out and let us roam pretty freely once we knew the basics. I was up in the mountains just a couple of days ago. What a treat that was. Usually i travel north this time of year, but the only place i’ll be going is Texas, even hotter than home.

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    1. Kids don't get much opportunity for that free-roaming now, and it's so important, even with its risks. . .

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  7. What a drama after such a beautiful day! I'm happy that all worked out well in the end. BTW, In that first photo of your grandson looking at the lake, I see the picture of a woman's face as outlined by leaves in the trees (between 10 and 11 o'clock). It's so odd. Can you see it too?

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    1. What an eye! Brilliant!
      D.

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    2. Took me a couple of tries, but I see it now too:)

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    3. Yes! So cool -- thanks for spotting and pointing this out.

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  8. When I first say the photos, I thought you must be homesick for your island. Being in the forest on a hot day is almost as good as a beach. The smell and silence cannot be described.....just experienced.

    Ali

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    1. Yes, experienced and remembered -- slows my breathing just to recall it. . .

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  9. Forest bathing! What a lovely interlude with your daughter's family. The high temps around the world are scary, and multiple fires are burning in California. What have we done to our planet? Is it too late to reverse it? Climate change knows no borders, so those who ignore it affect all of us. My current faux head of state and his minions are among that number. It's been warm, but not a heat wave, and beautiful in the evenings, in my area of Northern California. I have a backyard with a fountain, an umbrella, a chaise longue when I want to be outside, and outside the backyard fence there is an interior garden space full of trees within the oval of homes where I'm staying. There is a pool as well, but I'm not a fan of pools so I don't use it, though I have considered jogging in the shallow end as a way to help get back in shape without reactivating my residual car accident whiplash injuries. We have hiking trails and streams nearby, and the ocean is not too far away, but at this time of year in California everything is getting very dry. I look forward to autumn. I hope your temperatures cool soon.

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    1. We've got some fires burning in BC as well. . .
      I'm not keen on pools either and I have been so spoiled by years of a beach just out my front door. . . but I'm going to try getting to some of the very decent public pools here and also make myself swim in the ocean at some of the local beaches. . . I'm not sure I'm quite ready for autumn, but I would like temperatures dialed down just a bit.. .

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  10. We're so very dependent on our mobile phones now, but seldom know their numbers! I know my husband's, but not my children's, or anyone else's. What a happy chance that averted a sticky situation for your family! With added bears.... (Must say I'm not keen on plans some people have for re-wilding Scotland, including re-introduction of scary species of meat eaters. Yes I know it was out fault they disappeared, but I like being out in the hills without being afraid I'll be eaten).
    No real need to cool off here, tho it was 27 degrees C yesterday. I am at work (whisky distillery), where it is even hotter (44C), but I'm only in that heat for half an hour at a time. At home I would sit under the shade of an apple tree.
    Daughter and friends had a keys-locked-in-car incident recently on a wee island off Vancouver island. Group of uni friends from St Andrews who had gone to visit a Canadian uni friend from that island. One of the Scots managed to lock the keys inside the hire car. On a Sunday. Cue lengthy wait for mechanics to come out from Vancouver, including 2 ferries and being charged 'ferry waiting time' into the already considerable bill. "Learning experience".

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    1. I know what you mean about the large meat eaters, but they're pretty cool to see and to know that an ecosystem is managing to sustain them.
      Ugh! 44C does NOT work for me! Why does it have to be so warm?
      I'm glad your daughter and friends managed to get back into their car -- these days, it's not so easy as finding a coat hanger to thread through the window!!
      (My fear in Europe is of locking keys inside a rented house or flat -- your system seems to involve prohibitive locksmith fees, mortgage-level!

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  11. Smart phones have made us dumber. I used to have all important phone numbers memorized. Only remember a few now. But I still know all four children's social security numbers, so at least the ability to memorize hasn't failed...yet. I do have numbers written in an address book at home, as well as in an secure ID program that I can access on my phone, tablet or from any computer with wifi. But still...dumber.

    As for a family mishap, we had one on the way to a week at a beach house some three hours from home, many years ago. I was driving our station wagon with four children, a teenage helper and my in-laws small dog. My husband was ahead of us, riding his motorcycle (to have as an extra vehicle at the beach). As we neared the beach (15 miles away), the station wagon suddenly lost power and I had to pull over on a very busy two lane highway. It was blisteringly hot and humid, but I unloaded everyone off to a safe grassy area, fully expecting my husband would notice we weren't behind him. He didn't. But with good reason. The exact same thing had happened to his motorcycle just a mile or so ahead of us (though we could not see him). It was pre-cell phone days. Neither of us knew what was happening to the other. No good Samaritan stopped to help me and the children, but a local bus driver stopped to help him with jump start. He then backtracked to find us. Had to then find a phone booth to call for help. A tow truck finally arrived and the kids, dog and I, minus the oldest child who road on the motorcycle with Dad (we had helmets), squeezed into the truck cab (and I do mean squeezed) to go to the garage. Fortunately, the tow truck driver had mercy on us and dropped us and all our belongings at our beach house before taking the car to the garage. A memorable fiasco. :)

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    1. Oh wow! At least you got a good story out of it, but how horridly stressful at the time.
      I once had our car similarly lose power (something with the fuel-line, I think) when I was solo-driving with four kids, and at least 60 miles from the nearest anything. . . I pulled over, reassured the kids, nursed the baby, threw up some kind of invocation to the universe, and tried the ignition again -- and it worked, magically, so that we made it to our destination without mishap. At the time I remember rehearsing my options -- basically, turning my hazard lights on and waiting until someone helpful stopped, then ordering a tow truck -- which would have devastated the charge card I was glad to have as back-up.
      Now, it would be as simple as phoning my Roadside Assistance number . . .

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  12. Those trees look wonderful. I can almost feel the cool shade. Here I am melting away. Lst night I took a cold water bottle to bed with me, it really helped!
    I still know quite a few telephone numbers by heart (my sister, several friends), and often I still dial them digit by digit instead of letting the phone do it for me. Old habits don't die, although they bring me some eye-rolling from my son.

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    1. A cold water bottle, I'll have to remember that. I often sponge down with a wet washcloth.
      Digit by Digit is probably the only way to really keep them in your memory. . .

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  13. Your visit to the woods with your grands, mostly to accompany and observe, is just what we like to do. Nature is such a great teacher. In fact, we're all (11 of us) going camping at French Beach this weekend, and I'm hoping for some times similar to what you've pictured. NOT, of course, the almost-crisis.
    I realized some time ago that I didn't know many phone numbers any more and have been intending to write them down somewhere. Maybe a Google doc that I can access online? But then...security...oh, there are so many things to consider.
    Happy weekend!

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  14. That's an impressive campsite-full -- fun! (although I have to admit I'd want to have a private tent hidden away somewhere for the occasional quiet time. . . ;-)
    Yes, there are various solutions that involve having some data stored online but that requires security and maintenance, and perhaps the kindness of strangeness and the back-up of a good emergency fund will be enough to get us through. . . otherwise, I suppose there will be some spine-strengthening going on ;-)

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  15. Thank goodness for sharp eyes and crises averted. No fun to be locked out of a car, bears in the vicinity, no food for littles. Not a disaster one would hope but surely a way to wreck what looks like a lovely vacation.

    I was just remembering the other day how it feels to come down out of the mountains and to leave the scent of evergreens behind.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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