Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More cousins and a snake

I have a tradition with the cousins on my mom’s side to get together on Labor Day weekend. We meet in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the place where we played together as children. In fact, our parents spent lots of time there before us, and my cousins’ children play there too. It started out as a tiny cabin in the woods, but by now the family has spread out a bit and we still have enough space for our bigger family.

It’s a good thing we all get along, however, because we pack ourselves pretty close together. Most of us prefer to sleep outdoors, so we don’t mind the fact that there aren’t enough beds inside for all of us. We take turns in an outdoor shower, trying to save water for the next person. And we take turns in an almost-indoor toilet added onto the back of a bedroom. And, of course, we’re most comfortable eating our meals outdoors. It would be hard to fit all of us indoors at once. I love these people, and I love being with them. We walk, talk, play games, swim, goof around and treasure the opportunity to be together.

Yesterday some of us decided to hike up to “Lake George.” It’s not a real lake, but George is a real person. He was a guest many years ago, and he scrambled up Alder Creek farther than any of us had gone before, finding a beautiful place to go fishing. Unfortunately, he slipped and fell onto some rocks, breaking his ankle. It must have been extremely hard to get him out of there, because it’s plain hard to get in and out of there uninjured.

This was my second trip to Lake George, though I know the first part of the trip quite well. First we walk out the top of a big water pipe alongside the creek until we get to a remote dam. We’ve all been frequently to the dam, but it’s so hard to get above the pool enclosed by the dam that I never tried it until the previous cousins’ weekend. This time would be the first trip for little Keira. I don’t know how old she is, but somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. She may be small, but she’s fearless and capable so she’s a great companion. We let her pick the route over the rocks and boulders much of the way up, and she did an amazing job.

On the way back, Keira’s cousin Reed and I were in front, hustling down the pipe and thinking about the food waiting for us at the cabin. All of a sudden we heard a loud buzzing sound and Reed stopped immediately. I stopped behind him and followed his eyes down to a huge rattlesnake in the grass almost beside us. We backed up. The snake rattled his tail and watched us intently. We didn’t feel so much threatened as warned, and we gave him a very respectable distance. Only Janet had any kind of a camera with her, an iPhone. She took some pictures from afar and then we all walked around the snake on the other side of the pipe. I thought it was interesting that nobody spoke of hurting the snake, because that would have been the standard response when I was a kid. He wasn’t, in our minds, threatening anybody and we had ventured into his territory. So we didn’t threaten him either.

Altogether, we enjoyed a very non-threatening weekend, but here's a video of our final adventure.

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