Growing up, my mom would often look at me quizzically and say, “Do you just not think sometimes, honey?” Let me tell you, there is no right answer to that question, as usually, it was immediately preceded by a slight lapse in my general good judgment.
For example, when I was 17, I put the wrong soap in the dishwasher and flooded the entire kitchen with bubbles. Mom shook her head and asked, “Do you just not think sometimes, honey?” That same year, I also put tin foil in the microwave and forgot to put oil in my truck for such a long time that my engine seized up. Let’s just say 17 was rough…
Although I am 4,449 miles away from home, I can still hear my mom’s voice anytime I do something stupid: “Do you just not think sometimes, honey?” Saturday, that phrase was reverberating in my ears as I spiraled down the side of one of the Pentland hills, wildly out of control, hoping a soft mud puddle would stop me before a tree did.
Last week, I made plans with Ma Poulette and Catwoman to go for a hike in the Pentlands to introduce Huckleberry to Poulette’s dog Coffee. Saturday morning rolled in drizzly and gray, but we decided that we couldn’t let a little rain keep us in and we’d just layer up like real adventurers.
As Catwoman and I stood at the bus stop, the drizzle progressed to a monsoon and we briefly considered calling the trip a wash, but Poulette was on her way and the bus was due and inertia took over and BOOM we were on our way!
We were a fashionable group, all in wellies and me sporting my waterproof plastic pants over sweatpants over leggings. After I almost died of exposure in the Caringorm Mountains on my quest to feed the reindeer last month (full story to come, that’s just an awesome teaser to keep you coming back), I was not about to get cold and wet on this trip.
This picture was taken at the base of the hill. We had been hiking for less than 20 minutes and were already cold…and wet.
Initially, the hike was just muddy with a constant drizzle. We were a bit spread out on the path and I think Huckleberry ate something dead and rotting, but I’ll never know for sure. Since he was too busy loading his gut with a likely chunk of parasite-infested carrion to listen to me when I called to him, he lost his off-leash privileges until we were further away from such temptations and distractions.
As we climbed the hill, the rain turned into snow. Not just snow, but epically large flakes of snow. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing it all in our faces at such high speeds, we were effectively blinded and not able to fully imbibe the beauty and serenity of the snow-covered Scottish hillside.
But, it was beautiful, I could just feel it, even with my eyes closed.
From that angle, the hill doesn’t look too formidable, does it? Well, believe me, it was a tough climb! So tough in fact we didn’t make it to the top and started walking down after an hour of battling the wind and snow and rain.
Catwoman was the first to fall on the way down. She took one wrong step and slid about 6 feet. Poulette and I laughed so hard, it took us a few minutes to catch our breath and ask, “are you ok?” Feeling inspired, Poulette pulled a plastic grocery bag out of her pocket and used it as a sled to go down the hill.
If only I was so graceful.
While Catwoman only slid about 6 feet and Poulette maintained a very controlled speed and trajectory, Yours Truly lost her footing and tumbled down the hill head over feet, spinning around in circles and sliding on my back and stomach and side, headfirst, feet first and at such a breakneck speed, I expected to break the sound barrier before coming to a stop. As I accelerated to terminal velocity, I was keenly aware of Huckleberry chasing me down, howling at the top of his lungs, my friend’s laughter way up the hill in the distance and the rhetorical echo of my mom, “Do you just not think sometimes, honey?”
Fortunately, the hillside was grassy and muddy. There were no trees and just a few rocks in my path. I laughed so hard, tears froze on my cheeks and Catwoman laughed so hard, she lost her footing again.
Down on the path, we reminisced about the snow days of our youth and vowed to go sledding should Edinburgh ever get a proper snowfall. As we got closer to the bus stop, numbness began to take over our appendages and talking and laughing faded. It was as if Cold declared war on Fun. Cold was winning.
We needed more layers. We needed thicker gloves. I needed a proper hat. We survived. We learned. We lived to layer another day and test the Scottish elements.
I also learned a truly valuable lesson: should I ever fall and break my leg in the wilderness with Huckleberry, he will not run to find help or attempt in anyway to actually save my life. He will, however, bark in my face as loud as he can until I muster up the rage to stand again…or die. What a good dog.