‘The Mountain’ – Thursday stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. The backstory can be found here. Enjoy!

BF Mountain 3

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, blue crayons, popcorn…and cinnamon suckers; but he did not like to stop and wait. Here is his story:

The top of the mountain was finally coming in to view. Just a few more steps to go. Baby Frederico had started this day of climbing with his family in the happiest of moods, all smiles and bright eyes and adventurous attitude and energy to burn. He wore his toughest hiking boots and carried a big green backpack full of everything a great climber might need – graham crackers and marshmallows, a box of Battlestar Galactica band-aids, marbles, a compass, a map of caves, a camera, three rocks, his papá’s old Spider-Man comic book, an assortment of his favorite blue crayons, and six cinnamon suckers. It was the perfect day for Baby Frederico.

Or so he thought. His family – which on this trip included his parents and his grandma and grandpa – was just too slow. It took them forever to drive to the mountain; nearly a hundred years for them to get out of the car and put their sunscreen on; and a million hours to check to be sure their shoelaces were tied and their water bottles were full. He did not like to stop and wait…and he began to get mad.

“Are we ever going to start climbing up this mountain? Why is everyone so slow? Let’s go!!!” Baby Frederico started up the path by himself, not looking back to see if his words had any effect on the rest of the family.

And now, here he was, climbing over rocks and jumping across creeks on his very own mountain. He looked back to see where his slower-than-slow family was on the path. Nothing – no one anywhere. Baby Frederico stopped. “Where are they now?”, he wondered. He listened for a moment and thought he heard something, but he was mad, so mad that he wasn’t paying attention to his next step.

With a slip, a slide, and a whimpered, “Oh no!,” Baby Frederico found himself at the bottom of a small hole in a large rock. It wasn’t really a hole, more like a deep indention in the massive chunk of earth that he was trying to climb over. Still, it was large and smooth enough that he couldn’t climb out by himself. The top of his head peeked above the rim of the hole, but his arms and legs were just too short to pull himself up and over for a quick escape. He was stuck as stuck could be. He had no choice but to…stop and wait.

BF Mountain 2

And that’s when he heard something that he had not ever heard before. It must have been there all along, but it was far enough away that its sounds echoed more clearly in the hole. But what was it and where was it coming from?

Baby Frederico wasn’t sure if he should hope or worry that whatever it was would come closer. For now, all he could do was stop and wait…and listen.

(To be continued next week!)

82 Stories

82 Stories Glasses Photo

We drove to the top of Mount Scott yesterday. It’s about two hours southeast of us and a place I had never visited but often heard about. We took this drive for one reason – my 82-year old grandparents. It is near the epicenter of their 69-year love affair; a beautiful area of the world they visited on teenage dates in the 1940’s. They called us earlier in the week and asked if we would like to visit the place and see it all through their memories. We were glad to – and now more than glad that we did.

As we approached the top of the mountain in our SUV, I asked them what had changed and they looked around for a moment. “Nothing really…except the route up here,” my grandmother admitted. “It was all dirt and gravel roads back then, nothing quite so manicured and perfect and painted as it looks now. But the view, that hasn’t changed a bit. The sky is still blue, the white clouds still roll over us, the rocks and flowers are still the same browns and greens and purples, and those boats there on the lake…right there…they still look like little toys from way up here.” My grandfather, never a fan of heights, added, “Still too high up if you ask me.”

For a bit of an adventure, the kids and I decided to climb down onto the rocks below the scenic viewing path that encircles the top of Mount Scott. These rocks were slippery smooth and the purple flowers that grew between them were enticing to our youngest. The kids took pictures and laughed and poked around, being as safe as three girls in flip-flops standing on the side of a mountain can be.

When I looked back up the path to see from where we had come, I caught a glimpse of my grandparents. They may have been talking, I’m not sure, but they were holding hands and clearly peering out onto the land below, their eyes squinting through the blazing sun that was nearly at its peak in the sky above them. I told the girls to look and to remember what they were seeing. For in that moment, we were transported in time to the teenage chapters of a long-written storybook, to a portion of my grandparent’s lives lived so long ago and yet living now so close to us that all we had to do to read it was drive them up a mountain just off I-44 and Highway 49.

The stories are everywhere my friends. They just keep coming…

 

Stories at an Auction

We are at an auction in a cool old barn off historic Route 66 on a clear and warm Saturday morning, just one daughter and me. The other two have decided sleeping in is way too enticing, so my grandparents, who my kids say love auctions like we love breathing, are joining us.

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As my daughter and I settle into some chairs, it is still early so the cadence of the auctioneer lulls us with repeated pleas to buy it all. And that’s when our conversations begin. We think we might want a few well-worn fishing poles that remind us of Tom Sawyer’s need for such things; there’s a mystical old trunk lined with early 20th century newspaper scraps that remind us of all the stories we’ve read about secret compartments and long-lost treasure maps; and then a tiny yellowed photo of a sophisticated looking man with a gargantuan handlebar moustache, wearing a tuxedo while he holds a top hat and cane, who reminds us of a young Willy Wonka; we nudge each other at the sight of a cast iron motorcycle with sidecar that reminds us of my grandfather’s death-defying crash as a leather jacketed teen with cool black hair; and finally a rusty old west lantern that would have to accompany us on a really dark and foreboding walk through the “big woods” of Laura Ingall’s childhood.

We didn’t buy any one of these treasures, but we did find a great place to talk and tell stories. I say find these places wherever you can, especially with your kids, but be careful not to raise your hands too high in the air or nod your head at just the right moment as you talk…unless you have room in the trunk for some very long fishing poles.