things learned from travel


mountain trip
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

“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.

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5 Responses to things learned from travel

  1. Iris says:

    Such a good photograph.It should be shown to anyone who hasn't considered the downside of setting out on a quest as the 'chosen one'.

  2. Belinda says:

    Thank God I'm not the only one who runs ridiculous imaginary crisis scenarios in her head. "I have to flee my home with no more than I can carry–what do I take?" Probably just the daughter, these days, because she's taken to dawdling.I also made her practice running and climbing on a table in the barn in case I ever told her to…in case of stampede. Stampede of my, um, wild geriatric pet horses and the 2-foot-high shetland pony. IT COULD HAPPEN.

  3. badgermama says:

    I have done run the irrational crisis scenarios ever since I can remember. Ever since I was tiny! Nuclear war and post-apocalypse fall-of-civilization was a big one. I would always work it out to where the bombs or whatever would destroy everything but I would survive… barely. I worried that I would die from allergies and that I would have no skills valuable for the post-apocalypse society… as "neurotic bookworm" would clearly not be much in demand, despite what science fiction books written by neurotic bookworms like to say.When I was a kid I used to want especially to take things into my bed, like food or a knife, because I would imagine that my bed might be transported somewhere and I would have to survive with only the things on my bed. These days I deal with my neurosis by keeping power bars and water in my car, in case of being trapped by avalanche, earthquake, alien attack by electromagnetic pulse, or getting lost in the mountains at dusk.I try to squash the disasters and the similiar "rescue fantasy" thoughts, but I have them all the time anyway.My favorite one was my friend Ann's, whose baby was Moomin's age. She used to describe exactly my picture of how I would trip on the stairs and yet as if in slow motion would manage to throw myself down so as to land *under the baby* to cushion his fall.

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