Monday, April 28, 2008

The Story Resumes

“You’re taking an awful long time to tell this story,” Bel Canto said to me one day. “I think you should hurry up. My brother has been stuck in that backpack for weeks, years, practically, and you haven’t advanced his story one bit. If you don’t tell it, I will.” When Bel stamped her tiny hoof she reminded me of her brother, the little horse.

But she is right. It is time to move on with this story, since I am quite behind in the action. It’s just that it is so sad….

When we left off, the little horse was trying to nap in the pocket of the backpack. Finally they came to the parking lot at the base of the trail. The plan was to leave one car at the base of this trail and one at the bottom of the trail they would come down. It was a little bit like the riddle of the fox and the chickens and the rowboat. How could you get everybody at the bottom of the same trail and have one car at the bottom of the other trail? Here is how they did it—Brad and Jonathan and Jake left the girls, the old people, and the little horse at the base of the trail. Then they drove both cars to the bottom of the other trail. They left one car there and the three boys drove back in the other, parked, and caught up with the rest of the climbers in about an hour. “How humiliating,” thought the little horse, who had struggled to climb this far with his big head start.

He had enjoyed the trail, it’s wonderful scents, tasty nibbles of young ferns and velvety moss, the sounds of a brook nearby. But he struggled to climb over boulders bigger than he was. He tripped over tree roots. He got mired in the mud. And he was scared of the bear poop that they found on the trail, full of blueberries. “But it could be full of little horse remains if we are not careful,” thought the little horse, his skin shivering as if he were shaking off flies.

The little horse did not object when he was tied into the pocket of the backpack. He could still enjoy all the sights of the trail, but now he could rest his tiny legs.

After all, he practically had to gallop to keep up with Kristen and Caitlin as they walked. On and on they plodded. He did not object when they stopped to rest beside the mountain stream.

He was happy to taste the clear, cold water. But he was careful not to fall into the swift current.

Caitlin and Kristen were fun to hike with. They sang songs and told jokes and liked to stop to smell the Indian pipe flowers along the trail.

It felt good to be able to climb out of the backpack and stretch his legs after a long ride in the pocket of the backpack.

Several times he was tempted to ask, “Are we there yet?” But the fact that they were still in the woods told him they were not. On and on, on and on. The boys were far ahead. Eventually the girls were far ahead and the little horse was stuck in the backpack of an old person (myself!) Always looking backwards made the little horse’s tummy feel queasy. A little nibble on some partridge berry and a cool sip of water helped to settle his stomach.

At last they came to the Mizpah Springs hut. This is where they would spend the night. The little horse was so exhausted from all the climbing and all the fresh air that he fell asleep in the middle of dinner and had to be put to bed. He missed the traditional cut-throat game of hearts played by the cousins and Brad.

[Thanks to John, the other old person, for the great pictures.]