on the resulting drama after the peace and tranquility of the forest has been shattered by an intensely frightening encounter with a slug overlord
My son Adam is a loving, patient older sibling so it seems almost unfair to share this deceptive glimpse of a vulnerable-looking Oliver Fern running away in sheer terror after big brother has played an awful trick on him involving a humongous slug, hahaha! But really, do not be fooled. Oliver probably received some past-due comeuppance, he’s a bewildering blend of sweetheart and devil. We took the boys up to the woods around Darrington last weekend.
It was rainy in the morning and the trail was teeming with gigantic February-like puddles and mud-holes. By lunchtime the clouds broke to late April and small patches of brilliant blue sky. We stuffed ourselves on strawberries, cheese and crackers and watched as two whitewater boats drifted downstream. Oliver was even more daring than last time on some of the enormous downed logs spanning swales of moss and ferns. The boys held countless races on the gently up and down path, leading to the inevitable mud face-plants. We walked all the way from the north terminus of the Old Sauk Trail to Murphy Creek, where we took another long break for snacking.
I brought my Nikkor 105 mm for some close-up work but the ground was so soggy from the heavy rains in the morning, crouching and laying in the squishiness lost its appeal. I decided instead to see if I could capture some trail hijinks. That’s where these two shots come in, when Adam took Oliver by surprise with a pretend gruesome slug. Oliver isn’t really that squeamish about critters, after all he’s the Lead Administrator and Field Agent for the Earthworm and Sow Bug Relocation Program in our garden. But Adam and I started a running gag about any slug we found in the middle of the trail surely meant a sad end to our day and Oliver greeted each one along the path with bemused consternation. So it was that Adam’s practical joke here finally pushed him over the edge. By this time, the boys were a complete muddy, soggy mess and it’s hard to tell but Oliver has dots and squibs of milk chocolate all over his face.
Oliver was wilting from so much walking and play yet I still had to cajole him into riding on my shoulders. To advance the last couple miles of walking, Adam raced Oliver and I for honorary title of Sauk Champion of All that is Green. There was a lot of pushing (into cushiony moss) and shoving going on and the boys’ mom was getting mildly exasperated at the loosey-goosey roughhousing so we left her behind by a mile and she finally found us at the end. We unpeeled wet clothes off the boys like bananas and they were giddy with red cheeks as the station wagon heater roared alive and they bartered with each other over various snacks as we began the drive home down to the Puget Sound lowlands. It was another triumphal long day in the woods and both of the boys collapsed in bed when we got home in the evening.
The picture below is a look upstream from a shallow reflection pool on the Sauk, we ate lunch here. Exploring on the rocks was scenic but perilous at times, wet silt on a lot of the rocks made walking hazardous. We’d originally planned to explore along the Suiattle River Trail, but I’m glad we came here instead (we thought it would offer easier retreat in the event the rain didn’t let up) as now it feels like we brought to completion a small circle of exploration on the Sauk for this season. The boys delighted in showing their mother some of their favorite places in the woods.
It was a rough week since the Sauk, the boys’ mother was clubbed with a kidney infection (she never gets sick) and I did my best to keep us out of the house while she rested. She was feeling far better by Friday but yesterday I insisted she stay home to rest and relax while the boys and I headed down to the Ship Canal for opening day of boating season. We arrived in time for Windermere Cup high drama and lay in the grass for the entire parade, consuming a mixture of growing food and fifteen medium-to-large chocolate chip cookies. For the second year in a row, Oliver was given a fright by the shrieking and tooting whistles of the little steam boats.
Hours later when the parade was ended and we walked the fireboat through the opened Montlake Bridge (baffling to me always, how relatively few people remain for one of the city’s best celebratory spectacles), we walked home via Marsh and Foster Islands and the Arboretum. Our feet got muddied and squishified across Marsh Island and then the last metal walkway was completely submerged in Union Bay but we joked it was the rinse cycle. Progress was delayed significantly in the Arboretum so the boys could climb trees. Azalea Way was outstanding near the visitor center. I’ve never brought myself to shoot the Azaleas here en masse, the effect would be astounding at a time like now but the wildcard is lucking out with good, soft October-like light. The boys played hard in an overgrown (head-high horsetail) meadow south of the Woodland Garden, I napped in the daisies with the backpack as my pillow. The sunscreen stung my eyes as I squinted happily through the sunny canopy and listened attentively to my boys’ shouts of glee. I felt a little sorry for the young lovers nearby trying to make out under a gnarled maple. The Arboretum was a wise choice for their dalliance but they could not have anticipated a couple of wacko children flinging themselves in the mud and buttercup. Thank you for visiting, my dear readers.