Tag: hiking

Charlie’s Room: A Hiking Guide

Yet again, Charlie read the entry in the guide book out loud. “… beyond the footbridge, the trail descends, switching back and forth along the sides of the adjacent hills…”

Isaac smiled and looked down at the book they were reading as a bedtime story. He hadn’t read any of it, because Charlie was busy reading to himself, excited about the hike.

“…and then we get to the water fall. We’ll have a picnic there, right?” Charlie asked.

“That’s right. Now it’s time to go to bed.” Isaac put the book back into its place on the shelf.

“What?” Charlie sat up and looked down from his loft bed. “But we haven’t read a story yet. We always read a story.”

“We read the story of tomorrow’s hike,” Isaac said.

“That’s not the same thing.” Charlie crossed his arms. “Besides. I read that. You have to be the one who read the bedtime story. It’s the rules.”

“I don’t remember there being any bedtime story rules.” Isaac chuckled as he stood up.

“There’s rules, because that’s how we always do it. I won’t get to sleep without a bedtime story, and then I’ll be tired for the hike tomorrow.”

“It’s late,” Isaac said. “I’ll turn the light out and let you try to sleep. In a half hour, I’ll check on you. If you’re still awake, I’ll read you a few pages.”

“I’ll get to bed quicker if you read to me now.”

“We’ll see.” Isaac turned out the light and left the room. When he returned fifteen minutes later and peeked inside the room, Charlie was already asleep.

The next morning, Charlie was the first one awake. He ran around the house, filling the end of Isaac’s dreams with herds of elephants. As he’d been dreaming of building card towers, it was an odd way to end things.

Isaac shuffled down the hallway in his pajamas and looked at the bulging backpack Charlie was carrying looped over one shoulder. “It sounded like you were running a 5k inside the house. What did you put in your bag?”

“Stuff I’ll need.” Charlie held out the backpack, and Isaac looked inside.

“First aid kit, sunscreen, board game, towel, swimsuit, change of clothes…” He dug through the bag. “You won’t need all this for a day hike. We won’t be swimming, and there won’t be time for board games or card games or writing letters.”

“I was thinking maybe on the drive there…”

Isaac frowned. “You get car sick.”

“Fine, fine.” Charlie held out his arms for the back pack. “I’ll go through all this again. Are you sure we won’t go swimming?”

“It’s not safe to swim there.”

Charlie sighed and put his swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes in a pile. He added the games and the writing materials. “The guide doesn’t say all the stuff you can’t do.“

“Maybe there were too many things to mention.”

Charlie grinned. “Like baking cookies? Or going surfing?”

“Or playing golf or vacuuming or planting sunflowers…” Isaac added.

“Or petting dinosaurs or going ice skating or building a house…”

“Or forging a sword or piloting a UFO or traveling through time…”

Marianne shuffled into the living room, still in her pajamas. “Are you trying to pick a movie to watch? I thought we were going hiking today.” She looked down at the piles of things on the floor. “You know we can’t go swimming, right?”

“Or vacuuming or surfing,” Charlie said, kicking at the pile with his swimsuit. “The hiking guide wasn’t very helpful.”

“Vacuuming? Who would go vacuuming out in the woods?” Marianne shook her head. “I’m going to go get dressed. Can you clean up the stuff here?”

Charlie looked up at Isaac. “So what do I need to bring on a hike?”

“Am I your hiking guide now?”

“Well, you seem to know more about what I don’t need than the book did.”

“Honestly, I think you have most of what you need, except for the water and the picnic food. Let your mom and I take care of that.”

“Wow. I guess didn’t need a hiking guide.”

“Well, I think it made a nice bedtime story.”

Charlie frowned and zipped up his backpack. “No. I want a real story tonight.” He looped the bag over one shoulder and started picking up the piles of extra things.

Isaac picked up a few things to help put away. “Fair enough. We’ll save the hiking guide for special occasions.”

Charlie’s Room: A Lazy Afternoon

One morning, Isaac woke up, and he wasn’t feeling well. This was unfortunate, because it was his day off. Charlie and Marianne spent the last week planning a hike, now that the weather was finally warmer. They packed their backpacks and lunches and chose the perfect hiking-through-the-woods outfits.

But Isaac didn’t feel well. He didn’t have a fever. He wasn’t throwing up or coughing. He didn’t have any sharp pains anywhere. He wasn’t dizzy, not really. He just felt tired and yucky and awful.

“Maybe it’s allergies,” Marianne said. “Your allergies do seem worse in the spring.”

“Maybe you’re just getting old,” Charlie said. “You did just have a birthday not that long ago. Maybe it finally kicked in?”

Isaac sat up a little straighter. “I’m not that old.”

Charlie raised his eyebrows. “Hmmm. I don’t know. How old is old? You’re older than me.”

Marianne laughed. “So am I, and I feel fine. I don’t think that’s it.” She turned to Isaac. “You know, maybe you’ve been working too hard lately. I think what you need is a lazy afternoon.”

“A lazy afternoon? What about the hike?” Isaac had his own backpack waiting for him, and he’d already applied a generous layer of sunscreen.

“You’re obviously not feeling well. You took your temperature twice, you keep checking your eyes in the mirror, and you haven’t finished your oatmeal. You love oatmeal.” Marianne shrugged. “If you’re not feeling well, you won’t enjoy the hike.”

Isaac looked down at his oatmeal. It was normally his favorite breakfast, but today it looked awful. “But it was supposed to be a family hike.”

Charlie patted his arm. “We’ll take lots of pictures. It will almost be like you were there. There will be other hikes, you know.”

“But…”

“We’ll be fine. Now, if you’re staying home you need to rest.” Marianne folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. “No doing anything from that long to-do list that you keep. Just rest.”

Charlie nodded. “Maybe you could take a nap, too. Old people like naps.”

Isaac frowned. “I’m not old.”

“Of course not.” Charlie took another bite of oatmeal.

Marianne smiled. “Now that’s all settled, we need to go soon. Isaac, I’ll leave your lunch in the fridge.”

Not long after, they finished their breakfast and left. Isaac saw them off, and returned to his half-eaten bowl of oatmeal. Somehow it looked even worse than before.

Maybe he would take a nap. Not because he was old, of course. It just sounded especially nice right now. He scraped out his bowl of oatmeal and left the bowl in the sink to soak. Then he changed back into his pajamas and went back to bed.

Hours later, he woke up. The house had that heavy silence that only empty houses get. Golden bars of sunlight streamed from the windows, gilding things in an afternoon glow. He felt a little better.

Isaac sat up slowly and stretched. Without his to-do list hanging over his head, he felt alarmingly unrushed. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with his time.

He could read a book or watch a movie or take a bath. He could stare out the window at the clouds. He could take a bath. He could take another nap.

Isaac went back to the kitchen and took his lunch out of the fridge. He ate his sandwich and thought. What did he want to do? What was the perfect activity for a lazy afternoon?

Isaac called Great-Aunt Bethyl. “Hi, I have some time free this afternoon and thought I’d call and catch up.”

They spent an hour talking about current events and life in general and their lives in particular. It was a wonderful phone call. Finally Great-Aunt Bethyl got another call and had to go. “Call again sometime,” she said. “This was really nice.”

Isaac called Cousin Reginald and listened to him read his latest poetry. He even called Aunt Doris and listened to her tell him how to be a better parent. Isaac’s ear felt sweaty from being squished against the phone, but he’d really enjoyed the calls.

He pulled some cookies out of the cupboard and ate them with milk. He made sure to dunk the cookies in the milk, filling the milk with sweet, soggy crumbs. It was perfect.

He made spaghetti for dinner, and while it cooked he listened to the radio. He made up words to the classical music and sang along loudly. It was a lot of fun, and not at all embarrassing when there was no one to hear him.

Marianne and Charlie came back just as dinner was ready. Isaac greeted them with a smile. “I’m glad you’re home. Did you have fun?”

“Yes, and we took lots of pictures,” Charlie said. “What did you do?”

“I made some phone calls and ate cookies,” Isaac said.

“That sounds nice,” Marianne said. “It looks like you’re feeling better.”

“I think I am,” Isaac said.

“Did you take a nap?” Charlie asked.

“I did,” Isaac said.

“I thought so,” Charlie said. He nodded. “Sometimes old people just need a nap.”

“I’m not old.”

“Of course not,” Charlie said.

 

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