This weekend was another example of how far a mother's love will take her. On Saturday I went for a hike. To be fair it was just a walk in nature - but I gather that that is described as a hike. I was excited to view the waterfall I had been promised and it did not disappoint but then we were to continue on a trail. Just typing it makes me weak. I can't stand walking somewhere if I don't know the route. I dislike not knowing the 'turn around' spot. It evokes a sort of fear in me. Before I go on, it is perhaps important to know that I grew up on a farm and spent weekends gathering eggs from the hen house, mucking out the goose hut and throwing corn at ducks. I truly tried to embrace it and would grab my grandfather's walking stick and pretend to be a member of the royal family viewing the gardens of Balmoral Castle. I would walk into the woods, taking newspapers to sit on and would read a chapter of my book before heading home. I gave it a fair trial. Yet sadly, after drama club ended on a Saturday morning I would dread the rest of the weekend without the promise of a sleepover or a birthday party to escape to.
I believe this is why Summer has always been my least favorite season. It undoubtedly places the expectation that one should be outdoors. Rubbish. I have red hair and fair skin for one reason and one reason only. To be excused from direct sunlight and fresh air.
Before we started our nature trail, I needed the toilet. In an effort to pep up my spirits, I had drunk the face off an iced coffee and now because I couldn't gauge the length of this 'hike' I had to do a security pee. I swung open the door to a vile stench. I'm always terrified that a snake will just pop up me when I pee, so I habitually check every toilet I use. Every toilet. This is an irrational fear that has no origin.
However, instead of a beast, I found an abyss of poop. I gagged and held on to the rail whilst hovering above death. My security pee turned out to be the longest pee I had ever done in my entire life. Legs shaking, I ripped a couple of pieces of the roll holder that would not roll. Did a quick wipe and threw it. Whipped up my shorts and scarpered. As I pulled the door I noticed that the toilet paper had missed the gateway to hell but I couldn't go back. I feel bad about that. I do.
So, as we continued past the waterfall and my daughter joyfully walked toward bushes and leaves and other green things, my eyes were peeled for dirty, rotten snakes. I knew I shouldn't look but I did. No sooner had the sight of twigs made me twitchy I felt the most irritating touch known to man. That of a mosquito. I am subsequently aware that I should have doused in "Off" or something but I hadn't expected a tropical pest to be in the high desert of Central Oregon. I thought they lived in swamps and poo and Africa. I was mistaken.
It was over for me. I was bitten. Now, it would be of interest for you to understand that all this was internal conflict. I was trying desperately hard to be a 'good sport'. It was sunny and there was a waterfall. My sister and brother in law seemed enthused. Tom loves that stuff and dear Lord, Olive was properly giddy and waving at trees and dogs and every child that crossed our path...all of whom were headed in the other direction.
So, I am just smiling and trying to pretend that this is wonderful, but when the second mosquito bit my neck I just blew. Just as my panic escalated so did the intensity of the attack. They were literally everywhere and not even hiding. Blatant feasting on human flesh. I think that this is what you might call 'beyond a joke'.
In my defence I offer a visit to Spain when I was about 8 years old. It was a hot sticky night on the Iberian coast and I awoke to my face itching like I'd had an allergic reaction to an epidural. I had been bitten about seven times on my face and had mumps like lumps all over. I tried to rub them with my wrist rather than scratch them but fearing a further attack I pulled the covers up over my head. I was sharing a bed with my sister at the time and somehow the West Nile virus had failed to pierce her olive skin and infiltrate her blood. In true sibling irritant fashion, she pulled the covers down, I pulled them up, she pulled them down. For the record, this wasn't nearly as much fun as when we threw our knickers at the ceiling fan and watched them whizz round before flying off around the wall. No - this was serious. This was literally a matter of life and death. Sadly, being four years younger and afflicted with the pain of a face blowing up like the Elephant Man, I never stood a chance. In my delirium at being bitten alive I climbed into a suitcase and pulled the flimsy lid on top of me in the hopes of shelter. I lasted about a minute before my father came in and told me to get back into bed. At that point in my life, had he told me to drink the Spanish tap water I would have obeyed.
Seeing my daughter on that nature trail brought it all back. She was too young to run for shelter and there was no haven in this mess of dirt and shrubbery. When I saw one land on the back of her neck, I exploded. I grabbed her and ran. I must have looked like a loon but I didn't care. I wrapped her tight into me and covered any bare skin with my hands. This was survival of the fittest. I was wearing short denim shorts and a pair of white converse and knew this slippery trail laden with tree roots was designed to make me stumble. Yet it was no match for me. Until Olive started to cry that is. Now, this is not the point where I tell you that I relented and went back for more for the love of my child. I merely embraced my sprint as a game and started whooping and woohing my way downhill. Before long she was loving the escape and oohing and giggling her way to safety.
Now I'll admit, I did feel a bit like an idiot. As my other family members sauntered back prematurely, I did wish to have been more 'baby in a sling' relaxed. I just don't like surprises and nature is just bursting to show you new things unexpectedly.
There is no moral to this nor change in store for me. No feel good ending to this tale. In fact, to further fuel my fire, my initial bug bite became so swollen that I have decided that a spider bit me when I was in poop grotto. I believe he saw his opportunity while I was holding onto the railing in avoidance of the rim of danger.
To conclude, I stand by protecting my daughter from such misery. As the great Meatloaf once sang, I would do anything for love...but I won't do that.