The screaming wasn’t meant to be there. When I had planned this, not meticulously I admit, screaming was not included. The idea had been to get out straight after breakfast, put the walking boots on, tie the littlest lady to one of our backs with the carrier and march off. The route started at a small cafe and was circular so there was tea and cake to be expected at the end.
This was supposed to be refreshing; mind resetting even. However, despite the gushes of wind whipping my face vigorously every now and then, nothing about this was refreshing. “She wants to see you, I think,” the Englishman said. Hopeful, I took her off my back and strapped her to my front. Indeed a smile escaped her. Then she tilted her head back, pointed at the trees and started screaming again.
“What a great start to the year“, I thought, the sarcasm tasting sour on my tongue. I trotted on though, to the squelching of the wet moor underneath my feet, because this was what we had come to do. Besides this was a tradition. I had been on New Year’s Walks since my childhood. I consider traditions the cornerstones of a life well lived. They are the small acts that ground you, anchor your memory in the constant noise of daily life. I was determined to fill our family time with lots of wonderful traditions and this one, I was particular fond of.
When I looked across to the Englishman, however, I realised his fondness was dwindling and quickly. “Are you sure, this is the right direction?” His annoyance rang through the air. He had left the planning of this little annual outing to me as a last chance to prove my organisational skills to him. Apparently, he hadn’t been too impressed lately. With the continuous screaming in the background, I feared I couldn’t expect much sympathy for any poor execution. This is bad, I thought, because no I wasn’t sure anymore about the direction. I had been far too focused on keeping my mood together for the last hour to pay attention to the route and I was certain the constant whingeing added weight to the carrier.
If you don’t like it, change it! Staring at the map, the words popped into my head. I had read those words somewhere recently. A blog post, likely. Instagram, very possibly. I couldn’t remember in that moment. And anyway, just what exactly could I change about this situation, standing in the middle of the moors with a crying baby tied to me and a partner slowly losing the will? To surrender and return to the car seemed clearly like giving up. While contemplating where that ludicrous advice had come from in my head, I spotted another path on the map leading back into the woods.
“We’re turning left here!” I declared as if this had always been my plan. And because my hip was aching I turned the little lady around in the carrier, so she could scream into the wind to her little heart’s content. She actually seemed to enjoy herself; for a short while.
But by then the enthusiasm of the adults had already returned, due to the appearance of a small house in the distance. The Englishman spotted it first. “Can’t be much further!” he said, pointing at a small, smoking chimney in the woods. The cafe. At last!
Five minutes after our order of tea and cake arrived; the tears seemed like a distant memory. Pressing her tiny hand against her mouth the little lady squealed and giggled as she dipped in and out of Daddy’s hot chocolate. If you don’t like it, change it. Yes, I thought, how about New Years hot chocolate in the park from now on. Sounds like a good tradition to me.
Oh & H – a homemakers column. A weekly sharing of life’s little stories between a tiny terraced house and an overgrowing allotment.