Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today was the day after a huge fundraiser at the Homer Public Library - my freshman effort in the event-planning department, and while everything didn't go perfectly, it went pretty darn well. We had enough people to make it worthwhile, and enough food, and all around, people seemed to have a good time.

But reaching the finish line on this event has been a huge relief. And today, I celebrated that with Thea and Liam by taking them out for a fabulous early-morning hike down Diamond Creek Trail. It was such a beautiful morning and Matt's weather report said it was going to go south later on, so we went straight from pajamas to outdoor gear and headed out the door by 9 a.m.

Diamond Creek Trail is Liam's favorite hike. We start at the top of a hill and follow a rapidly eroding trail down to the beach, where a river (the source of said erosion) rushes over a small waterfall.

Liam is fascinated with water movement - rivers, streams, the waterways made in the road as the snow melts. Right now, he's in his element because we are losing snow faster than I can believe. We've gone from really the middle of winter to full-blown spring in a week, thanks to the ash covering everything from Redoubt's eruption earlier this month. Today, my flower beds emerged, though they are still coated with grey muck and not a crocus bud in sight. This spring has caught everything - even the bulbs - by surprise.

So it was a good thing we went on the hike early, because the mud was substantial along the trail. The first part, however, was clear, and Thea, outfitted with her new rubber boots, went tromping down the road. It was her first real hike - hard to believe since it feels like she's been walking forever, not just a matter of months. And walk she did. She walked all the way down the trail to the muddy part, then got in the kid backpack for the slippy part. Liam is a monkey on the walk - bouncing from spot to spot and back again while I issue a steady stream of warnings and suggestions for ways to not cover himself from head to toe with mud and lose his boots to the big puddles.

On the beach, they both dove into the sand and enjoyed the sunshine while we had a few snacks. Liam chopped down a huge field of pushki (for non-Alaskans, a large-leafed plant that puts up a huge stalk with a flower on top, which often remains all winter, leaving six-foot-high dried "flowers" all over the place.) When the whining reached a certain pitch and the clouds moved in a bit, we packed up camp and headed to look at the waterfall, which was rushing with spring-melt fever. Then Liam and I tried to take a "shortcut" to avoid a slippery ice patch that I wiped out on on my way down. My theory about shortcuts never being shorter was substantiated when we hit the three inches of freshly defrosted mud covering frozen and very slick ground. Add a 60-degree pitch or so, and you've got a fun time, especially with 35 pounds of kid and snacks on your back. But we made it up, and Liam and I were fairly proud of that.

It was amazing how different I felt going back up the hill vs. going down. On the way down, I was stressing out about all these different things - paranoid thoughts about the million ways this trip could be dangerous and damn, why didn't I have my cell with me or something.... On the way up, I was relaxed and rejuvenated. It was the perfect way to cleanse the stress of the week(s) away. And now that the weather is improving, I am ready to get out more often.

Thea surprised me by walking most of the way back up the hill, happily yelling at her brother the whole time in her version of a conversation (I am insanely curious and terrified simultaneously to know what she will say when she does start talking.) She really is an outdoors girl - no one leaves the house without her running over and grabbing her boots in an effort to tag along.

The rest of the day was equally rewarding - each kid got one-on-one time, I made bread and a roast chicken and didn't burn either, and even put away the 4-foot-high pile of clothes on my side of the bed. It is amazing what a little fresh air, sunshine and exercise can do for the head. Bring on spring.

Photos soon, I promise.

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