14 August 2007

Inadvisable, certainly

Picnics have changed since I was a kid. Once elaborate day-long spreads with lots of people, games, sometimes concerts and fireworks have been reduced to fast food dinners in the car with my folks in a parking lot with a view. I don't actually mind this development. Without the fuss of hauling coolers and baskets, trying to eat while seated on the ground and fending off mosquitoes, I think we're all quite a bit more comfortable, and we enjoy the views often.

The other day we grabbed a bag of chips and some napkins from home, picked up some grinders and drinks along the way, and drove to the lake. The parking lot where we ate was high above the water line. Through the scattered trees, we could see the lake with its far off swimmers, kayaks, jet skis, sail and motor boats, as well as the mountain range beyond.

There are several picnic tables along the hill, and there were a couple of large family gatherings on either side of the stairs down to the waterfront. A boy and his grandfather played frisbee by one group.

When I was done eating, I said, "Let's walk down the stairs and back up again."

Mom said, "Sure." She had already gotten out to throw away her trash. Dad opted to wait in the car to "keep an eye on [Mom's] purse" which I believe was code for wanting a few more chips instead of some exercise.

The concrete steps were steep, so Mom held onto the rail. Instead of a beach, a grassy strip abutted the water. Two girls were swimming, talking, and laughing. An older boy talked to them from the edge, then peeled down to what I supposed was his underwear- a pair of long jersey shorts, and waded in. An old man sat on a folding stool he'd brought with him. Further down the shore, a small group was fishing.

Mom told me about old times when she and a friend used to bring me and their other kids here to swim. There used to be a beach.

On the way back up, I took the stairs two at a time as part of my ongoing effort to strengthen my knees and legs. Mom made steady progress next to the rail, pausing on a couple of landings. I stopped with her each time to take in the view.

When we were near the top, we heard a woman say, "Jimmy, you can't pee uphill. Turn around."

I immediately started scanning our vicinity to make sure we were out of range. "Well, of course you can," Mom said without missing a beat. "You're just going to get your feet wet."

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