Monday, October 18, 2010

Blankets Creek and Biello Park

Iz had her first gymnastics meet of the year today. She did OK. The skills are more difficult and the judging is much harder. It'll be interesting to watch her progress.

After the meet, we grabbed some lunch and headed up to Blankets Creek. Iz rode her gear bike off road with me a week or two ago, but since Sophie's upgraded to Iz's old 20 inch, she's only ridden it around the bank parking lot.

I hate to say it, but we had a very frustrating ride.

On the upside, they both rode pretty well, most of the time. On the bigger bike, Sophie had a much easier time keeping speed and rolling over the terrain and Iz was really getting used to using her gears. We spun a few laps on the Mosquito Flats and did a few out-and-back's on Hamilton's Hop.

The trouble with Sophie came when she'd stop. On her little bike, she could sit on the seat, put one foot on the ground, the other on a pedal, and start pedaling. This bike is too tall for that. She has to give herself a little push, then stand up on the pedals, but she refused to do that. No matter how many times I told her to or showed her how, or how many times she failed to get going with her way, she just refused to push off. She'd stand in the middle of the trail, spend 2 minutes getting the pedals in exactly the right position, try to get going, stall out, walk up 3 feet, and try it again until she finally got to a slight descent and could basically just roll down it to get going. I quit arguing with her after the 20th time. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but there was a lot of traffic, on those trails in particular, that day, and she kept blocking the trail, holding people up. Most people were cool, some were even out there with their own kids, but surprisingly many made sure to first get past her, then scowl at me or shake their head in disdain.

Whenever Sophie would stop, unless she was 20 feet back, Iz would try to ride past her, then scold Sophie for stopping. I must have told her 15 times not to, but she'd just keep doing it and argue "I'm not trying to ride past her" though she very clearly was.

We only had 2 mishaps. Iz's front wheel washed in a loose corner and she whacked her knee on her bars. Not 20 minutes later, Sophie washed in a different corner and ended lying down, face first on the trail, surprised, but unhurt. Iz, of course, tried to push past her and ran over her arm, pinning it down until Iz got off of her bike and moved it. It was pure luck that Sophie hadn't begin to get up yet or it could have been much worse. As it was, nobody was hurt, but that's what it took for it to finally dawn on Iz that it's dangerous to push past somebody like that.

And that's been the trend, of late. They only change their behaviors when painful, natural consequences force them to. I'm all about letting kids learn their own lessons, but increasingly, the consequences have been for somebody else. For Iz's impatience, Sophie's gets her arm run over, for Sophie's slowness, people get angry with me, and really, that's just scratching the surface. I hope they'll learn the bigger lesson soon. We'll see. Some people never do.

While sitting and waiting for everybody to calm down, we heard some rustling behind us. Four deer were nosing around in the brush, aware of, but unconcerned with our presence.

I know some hunters who haven't seen a single deer yet this season. I'm telling you. They know. They know it's deer season and they hide out at the bike trails.

Sitting there, I also realized that Blanket's Creek had become more like Blanket's Series-of-Ponds. This year's rain scoured out pools, felled trees and displaced a huge amount of rock. Also, the water level was super low. Inches. What was last year a creek was now a long series of natural coffer dams. There was movement under the surface, and if you looked at the rocks at the end of each pool, you could see water tricking around and under them. But it was a far cry from what I was used to seeing.

We probably rode 10 miles total and called it a day.

Or, at least a day on the bikes. We ran by the gas station at the corner of Sixes Road and 575, which, judging by the level of stock on their shelves, appears to be on it's way out of business, grabbed some snacks and headed over to Biello Park.

There, we threw the softball until everybody was sore from getting hit in the shins, knees, chest and fingers, then kicked the soccer ball until the blisters on my feet had blisters of their own.

 Kicking the Soccer Ball

Isabel's getting the hang of throwing the softball. They're both getting the hang of catching it. It's taking a while though. It's amazing what a difference not having a yard makes, or for that matter a flat driveway or street. When I was a kid, I was out in my front yard, every day, playing soccer, softball or football with my brothers and my neighbors or doing flatland freestyle on my driveway or in the street. We built slant ramps, quarter pipes, half pipes, launch ramps and rail slides and rode and skated them too. Heck, I used to just ride or skate around my neighborhood all day. I learned to do all of those things early and got plenty of practice. Except for basketball. I have always sucked at basketball. But basketball aside, none of those things are possible at my house. Our house is built into a hill, in the woods. We have no yard of any kind. Or driveway is too steep to drive up in the snow. The streets are too still too steep for the kids to ride on. We have to pack up the truck and drive to a park or somewhere to do things that I could just do out front of my house. To an extent, I feel like I've deprived my kids of some of the joys of my own childhood.

When I got home, I took a look at my feet. Yep. Double-layer blisters. It's hard to walk, but at least every step reminds me of the fun I had getting them.

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