Our little family love fest is over. Sean and Sue left at noon. I’m feeling post-partum blues. Took a nap. Wandered around. Sat down here. Started to go through photos and videos we took yesterday, on our two-hour “zip-line” tour through the canopy of Brown County State Forest. (More on that later.)
Stopped to remember the incredible smoked ribs from last night’s indulgent dinner at Smoky Joe’s. Something I never eat, and boy were they good, tender, fatty . . . Stopped to recall the four dinner parties this week with various friends, one each night, laughing, raucous, riven with connective tissue. . .
Stopped to feel grateful again for the great pick-ax hack-job Sean did to uproot the root balls of the bamboo that I’ve finally decided to try to get rid of, knowing full well that it’s impossible, that the bamboo will live 40 years and then die.
Told Sean it would be like digging a shallow grave. Yep. Except it took a pick ax to cut through the roots. Root balls still in the wheelbarrow. Got to sift through all the dirt before I put it back in the hole . . .
Stopped to remember the weird sickness my puppy Shadow got right in the midst of all the fun and frolic, and how I held him, trembling and listless, on my lap for two hours early yesterday morning while waiting for the vet to call back, then took him in, left him there to go to a terrific breakfast tamale feast with Sean and Sue and Drew at Feast where I got a call back saying he’s probably fine, just a little back strain; so back I went to get him, and he underwent a full and very mysterious recovery over that day. Glad I didn’t take the offered steroids and pain killers. . .
Stopped to recall the way my recently deceased father came over me the first full day they were here and I transmogrified into a “hard-ass” with ten year old Drew, telling him he could only have “screen-time” for one hour per day at my house, and the rest of the time I wanted him to work with me, in the garden. But we couldn’t agree as to how much I’d pay him! To me he felt like a little Monopoly player, predatory and out to get whatever he could for “work” that he hated; I told him I was very disappointed, but no thanks, I’ll just go it alone, and doesn’t he realize that “work” with another person, especially in the garden! — is fun?
Then, suddenly, waking up to my own judgmental attitude, and how I had projected my own need to let go of screen-time to work in the garden onto him! Yuck! When he and his parents returned from their time-out with me, I apologized, profusely.
Whew! With that close encounter Drew and I touched into a big family drama with Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto, and then, slid out from under it. Later, on an errand in the car with puppy Shadow, I told him about the three types of economies: money, barter, and gift. And that I much preferred gift, a generous heart. He got it, grokked it, told me he’d work for free. I said no I wanted to give him money, so that’s what we did. We gifted each other freely and felt good about it and punched right on through the usual grief people go through when they feel the other is manipulating them.
Long story. I’m not really bothering to tell it here, just to mention it and to say, so very glad that my stern authoritarian German Dad-self didn’t take over, or didn’t take over for very long, and that my Ann-self was able to apologize — much to Drew’s relief, surprise, and joy.
Remembering the walks we did, especially last night, after those fatty ribs and corn bread, strolling through the I.U. campus with now recovered Shadow for at least an hour after dark, getting almost lost, and lost in the usual conversations that we get in when together, this little nuclear family of ours, both before Drew and Kiera came into the world and, when they were little, with pram and tricycle, and now all of us walking, except this summer, for the first time, Kiera was away at camp, and apparently having a great time.
I remembered the bike ride Sean, Sue and I took down to the B-Line trail and back yesterday, after the zip-line tour and a snack at Muddy Boots in Nashville, to build up our appetite for the promised smoked ribs.
On their second day here, I said, hey, wanna do the Brown County Zip Line Tour? Ooooh! Sue was immediately up for it. Drew wanted to do paint ball instead, and the adults vetoed that. Tried to convince Drew to change his mind. He went along, but reluctant, and then almost froze with fear once we got there, especially hearing about how one of the five lines we would do zipped along at 85 feet off the ground . . .
I was afraid, too, we were all filled with a bit of trepidation, but as I told Drew: learn to have fun with fear! And we did.
Here we are at the start, all geared-up.
The very first thing we had to do was go across a hanging bridge . . . yeek! Once we negotiated that, Drew felt very much better and decided to go after all. Here he is, getting ready for his second zip-line.
Pretty soon he was so confident of the equipment that he let go of the ropes altogether. . .
None of the rest of us were quite so carefree . . .
I’m pantomiming my own fear here . . .
Colin, especially, was having trouble with the experience, since he was exactly at the upper weight limit, 270 pounds, and felt sure that on the second, longest, fastest, zip line that the 130-pound guide would never be able to stop him, he’d crash into the tree beyond, and DIE. He was absolutely sure of it, in fact, and quite stunned that the guide’s breaking system actually did stop him!
Here he is, having lived, on his third zip line, over the small lake . . .
Sean, too, was a bit concerned, and I think they’re right, the heavier you are, the more you wonder about the equipment . . .
Me? I loved being up in the forest canopy, and zip lining felt like flying in dreams. I could do it forever . . . Here I am, having agreed to the challenge of stepping off the platform in a “trust fall” (not holding on):
Keep in mind that, with 70 years under my belt, I would like nothing better than to exit this life! So, falling through space to the ground, to me, feels more like coming home than dying . . . Everybody else has much more to do here than I feel I do . . .
Even so, here I am, on the second suspension bridge, stepping carefully across, my tai chi training helping every cell to know what to do next. I’m walking here so slowly and carefully that I remind myself of Mom, now, at 95, with her walker, very carefully walking down hallways without falling . . . So that’s what I’ll look like then! If I stay in this body 25 more years . . .
Clearly, even though I say I’m ready to die, my body wants to get across that bridge without falling. Mind, spirit and body, their uneasy alliance. . .
Oh phooey! Can’t upload videos. . . Sorry! You’ll just have to imagine that one. Here’s Drew, by this time a pro, on the same suspension bridge.
And here’s Sue, having the time of her life.
On balance, I’d say that the zip-line experience is certainly fun, but it’s so passive that I wouldn’t do it again. You do have to remember not to reach for the wire as you’re zip lining (or you’ll burn your hand), but for the handles instead. You do have to remember to focus as you reach the end of each line, so that the guide won’t have trouble breaking you and bringing you in. You do have to pay attention so that you won’t fall off the platforms (even though you’re always roped in, but you might scrape yourself as you drop over the edge). Etc, etc.
In any case, it feels pretty empty around here right now. Next plan: to meet on the day after Christmas in Massachusetts, me and Colin and his partner Greta to drive there 20 hours nonstop. The grandkids wanted to spend Christmas at home this year, because, as they say, “we haven’t had a Christmas tree for years!” (I don’t put one up, nor does their other grandmother, in Ohio).