A Long Walk

IMG_2033We took Dubsie camping on the Olympic Peninsula this weekend. This peninsula is one of the wettest places in the country, where the drizzle never stops, but somehow we hit a bullseye. Three straight days of sun. Mountains thrusting into the blue, and mossy glades threaded with soft light.

One day we had Dubsie lead us on a hike. The Heart O’ the Forest Trail takes off from the Heart O’ the Hills campground (we coached Dubsie how to say “Heart O’ the Hills!’ like a leprechaun). The Heart O’ the Forest is full of trees that are so tall and thick that I took them for vagabond California redwoods, until a ranger informed me they were western red spruce and Douglas fir, specimens that had been reaching toward the gray sky for a thousand years or more, untroubled by the whack of axes.

IMG_2037Dubsie picked her way through root banks, and stayed upright on damp wooden bridges that crossed swamps of broadleaves. She meandered like a creek, touching every stone and root. We plucked branchlets off the ferns. We watched beetles scuttle under leaves and spiderwebs shimmering in a late afternoon glow.

In a few hours I’d say she walked a mile, which is a far piece for someone who’s two. On the way back she got hungry and weepy, so I carried her.

IMG_2045Mummy made dinner while I coaxed some damp kindling into a fire. Dubsie was fascinated by the smoke. “I’m making a campfire, my love,” I told her. “We will make lots of these, you and me.”

Night fell and the fire crackled. Dubsie sat her her chair and stared into the flames. Whether exhausted by the walk or entranced by fire, I don’t know, but she sat perfectly still and didn’t say a word. Mummy asked if she wanted to be held, and she answered with a peep.

Mummy cradled her as if she were still a little baby. Dubsie’s head fell back into the crook of her mother’s arm and she was instantly asleep.

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