hiking without happy meals; a modern paradigm chronicling the struggles, pitfalls,
& successes of life, running, writing, urban farming,
& home schooling in these crazy modern days.
Life is our classroom.
Life moves fast.Sometimes faster than I can keep up with.In a matter of a few seconds the whole game can change.
Today was supposed to be life in the slow lane wandering the Murray Nature Preserve along the swollen banks of the Jordan River at ArrowPark. So when the man on the bike circled back I ignored it.When he tripled back I smiled nervously.When he was waiting for us at a hairpin corner I took Beach’s hand and guided her to the other side of me, away from him.That is what mothers do protect their young.
“You are cute.” He said rather heavy in sexual undertones.
“Thanks.” I responded sheepish avoiding eye contact.“Keep going Beach,” I urged her.
When we were out of ear shot I told her, “He is on drugs or something just keep going let’s put some space between him and us.” The trail was actually well traveled, even busy, we were not exactly alone but as it turned out we were very ALONE.
He passed us again and waited.This was a moment where seconds mattered, where timing was going to be everything, the moment where I wished I had a cell phone, where I wished the grasses were not so high or the path so twisted.A man in his late 40’s approaching from rear walking.
“Please walk with us for a minute.”I say so fast I hardly believe he understood me.
He looks at us and up the trail to the man on the bike.“I see him.” He says to us but offers us no other form of comfort we walk past the man and over the next hill together.
“Thank you,” I say.
“No problem.” But he won't look at us. Obviously he does not want to help us. But surely a little discomfort or inconvenience is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of a woman & her child. Much to my surprise for him it was too much. He left us there.
We had not moved far enough.The man on the bike catches us again circles in front of me and stops, blocking the trail.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“Yes it is *1:00.” I am pulling Beach with me wide around him. Over his shoulder I see our fleeing companion looking back, a group of runners heading our way. He doesn’t come to our aid, he probably figures the runners will help us if we need it. He turns and leaves us a second time. Holy shit!
“What is your name?” the man on the bike asks. I am struggling to walk away as he follows. The runners pass quickly in and out of view.
I grab my child raise my hand and shake my head 'no' heading us towards the sound of other people.When I look back I can see the man with bike moving into position in the bushes.There is no question, even to me, that he is hunting us.
It is the 4th of July, the sky is heavy & it is starting to rain, I am scared & fighting back tears; he is between us and our car. And he is waiting for us.
A thousand thoughts in my mind, how do I get us out of this? What would happen if this is the one time I can’t.
“Beach why are you not scared?”
“I think it is interesting. And mom just because he is on drugs doesn’t mean you aren’t cute.”
We turn back like orphans trailing on the company of other people. I don't bother to ask anyone else for help.
The man on the bike is gone.
Life sure moves fast.
In a matter of a few seconds everything can change.
At the corner where he first approached us is a crowd of people watching a baby duck slowly die in the reeds.I am an instructor for the Red Cross the first lesson is recognizing and over coming barriers to action.The more people standing on the sidelines the least likely the injured are to receive help.
I set down our bag jumped the bank with Beach following me. She scoops up the duck.“We have a little farm if no cares we will take it home with us.”I say to the onlookers.
“That’s so sweet of you to take care of the poor little thing, better than letting it get chased on by some animals.” A woman under the shelter of an umbrella says.
“I think the fast moving water was just too much for him.” A man says.
I look at the sick little duck in Beach’s hands.“Well, it may die but at least it will die knowing it was safe.”
Hey little duck you look like you are in trouble, why don't you let us help you?