In Alaska there always seems to be a period of the year when mother nature seems to just open up her arms and embrace everyone who copes, deals, or survives her moments of furry and longer periods of melancholy. We are in the midst of one of the longest stretches of loving kindness she has shown. I can say there is likely some aspect of our misuse of fossil fuels which may be causing this lack of an edge to the weather. Yet, I will indulge as best I am able to in this inebriating climate. I would like to be doing more wild adventurous activities but sadly I will have to accept some limitations given the approximation to my cancer. The recent acquisition of a viral infection coupled with the need to increase my immunosuppression has stifled some of my wishes. I am still able to enjoy though the comfortable temperature and lack of precipitation.
I have spent the last few days working around the yard, mainly testing my lack luster carpentry skills on a shed extension. The highlight though has been the short mountain bike ride with two of my work partners and watching the kids thrive in the sun. My boys love mud and muck but are so often clothed for the normal Alaskan fair, in Grudjen rubber head to toe, that the clean up is quite simply the remove of the coated layer. This afternoon and evening though they proceeded to dig an enormous hole in the back yard, fill it with water and dance gleefully through it repeatedly.
There are so many activities which could be placed in an argument for most definitive child activity. Off the top of my head I think of watermelon seed spitting, rock skipping, bicycle jumps, Christmas morning, and sledding. Activities all of which we have memories. To that list I think must be added a self made or discovered mud pit dance. The word dance might not correctly describe the play which takes place in the soaking dirt. Whatever the description may be the idea of childhood is not fulfilled without the smile of a mud splattered face. The joy which can be seen on a childs face as the mud begins to spread, first on the hands, then the shoes or boots, the pant leg, a sleeve, eventually errantly finding the face or hair. Once this point is reached the smile amongst the geographic islands of dirt is classic.
As with most of the funnest moments of life there comes a point when reality sets in. In the mud dance it is the realization that a cold hose is coming in your general direction. Some parents have smartly planned ahead with warm out door showers or solar heated hoses. The true mud memories though include the sting of the frigid clear water smashing into the body. The ensuing breath holding and screaming is just part of the scenario for the holder of the hose. When we are no longer the mud dancer but the bearer of cold cleansing we cringe at the memory but revel a little in the joy of the semi torture of the hose down. This last part is difficult for parents but the alternative of dirt throughout the house is not usually acceptable.
I was thrilled to watch Liam and Finn partake in this ritual. To see there wide smiles, to hear the giggles and screeches of delight. In the past had I been working or free to be out playing hard myself I may have missed this moment. Maybe not. Either way it was enjoyable and spirit lifting. Although I feel pretty good the recent increase in meds has my stomach a bit on edge again. Being able to see the partially hidden by dirt faces of my boys makes me realize I can cope with a little discomfort if I keep getting this times. I hope someday I can participate in some form of a mud fest with the two of them. These days the joy of this act has been rekindled by mud races and mountain biking to name a few. I can’t wait to be beside them as we dance on. For now I will watch, smile, and run the hose in this moment of mother natures kindness.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.
When I was Liam’s age with the Weber Bros.