“I’m so proud of you for keeping going on the trail even though your feet were wet from the snow and you were tired. Also, I was super proud of you for opening the gate in the cave. That was really brave!”
“Yup, I know.”
We totally shoved him forward when the park ranger asked for someone to help him open the gate. It was iron and shaped like an enormous spooky spiderweb! Dark, wet, spooky, batty-looking.
I told Moomin some other things offhand in the car and while hiking, like how to tell where north is from the moss on trees, how granite is made from cooling magma, and what to do when you meet a mountain lion. A day later I asked him about meeting a lion:
“Well, it’s very simple. You just stand up tall, and go like this with your arms, to look as big as you can, and try to look like a bear, and make a lot of noise. And if you are with a grownup, the grownup should pick you up, so you both look bigger. And don’t run. That way, the mountain lion will not think you are its prey.”
He was listening, you bet. Possibly he’s been reading those warning signs in the park all along and he’s been planning his response to mountain-lion-sighting since he was three.
I’m home now after successfully rescuing everyone I know from dreadful imaginary hiking accidents, anaphylactic shock, hangnails, and nuclear fallout. Also, as I drove past the San Luis Reservoir I tried to plan my escape strategies if the dam should start breaking slowly enough for a response to be possible. Where would I run, or drive, or climb? Would survival be possible? Would it be best to climb a pylon or a tree, if we pretended for a moment that I had upper body strength given to me by a surge of disaster adrenaline? What if there were a more moderate disaster and I had to survive for days with only the things in the cab of my truck?
It’s very simple, just like mountain lions. You let the imaginary disaster know you are not its prey! Standing up and roaring works great. Also, climb on top of the nearest grownup.