Hi, all. Some comic relief. This little adventure happened before the first snow, which, by the way, was October 1st!
Pam's Adventure on the Tundra
Robin was going to take her third grade class on a field trip to go berry picking as a culminating activity for their plant unit in science. I asked if I could chaperon, so that I could experience berry picking. And, it was an experience…
It's kind of funny sometimes - doing something here in the bush - because in the lower 48, (this is what we, up here, call those states, down there… doesn’t it make me sound like I’m “in the know?”) the average person would look at the circumstances surrounding the activity and say, "No thanks. It's too cold (or, insert your word of choice in place of cold...) for me." But, here, it's incidental.
So, we take this 45 minute fishing boat ride to where we are going berry picking. I always have to clarify to people back in WI or IL when I saying fishing boat, because they picture a bass boat with all of the accouterments, and a fishing boat in the bush is a metal, flat bottomed boat with no seats. They are not comfortable to ride, and they are not warm. I am, however, dressed for this endeavor, and I am okay. It crosses my mind at this point how amazing it is to me that children here take so much in stride. Any other child I know of would be crying because of the discomfort, but it's useless to cry here, because there isn't anything else you can do but endure the only option that is available to you. Well, unless you don't want to go berry picking, or unless you fancy a night on the tundra... rather than ride the boat back.
We get there and have lunch. Now, this is after scaling quite the incline, which the kids, of course, do like Spider Dan (remember him?), but alas, Spider Dan and I are not related. But, I make it up to the tundra - and it stretches out far and wide.
Then we split into some groups and traverse the tundra. Have you ever gone berry picking? That's another story... This particular adventure concerns the tundra, not the berries.
If you have been on the tundra or seen pictures of the landscape in any detail, you will notice that the landscape differs from spot to spot. Well, unless someone tells you, we non-natives don't know variances in the landscape from anything else. So ~ I didn't know that there were spots to avoid. I did, however, learn this intimately…
The first time I fell on the tundra, I noticed the landscape was changing, but I had my knee-high rubber boots on, so I was good to go! Well, these lovely and stylish rubber boots are also highly functional! - Oh, yes, I would be just fine!...right? Well, these boots function beautifully in terms of keeping your feet dry - under most circumstances - but they get sucked into the wet marshy tundra that lurks beneath the pretty green areas. My foot felt like a nipple in a baby's mouth - and that baby was HUNGRY! No worries, that baby was no match for me! I managed to free my foot and plodded happily along - I had conquered the tundra!
So, the second time I saw the beautiful green area, a bit bigger than the last one, I knew what to expect. Right? Well, here is a lesson for you. If the pretty green area is bigger, then that means the baby is even HUNGRIER, and this baby really really WANTS that nipple! And the marsh goes deeper and wider. So. This time, my knee high boots don't quite live up to my expectations. Picture a bowl being pushed down into water, and then you have an idea of how wet my foot was. So, I will just pull my foot out and go on my merry way – just like I did before – right? Sounds great in theory, doesn’t it?
Let me elaborate just a bit about the first time I got stuck - I had to kneel down on one knee to get enough leverage to pull my foot out. But, I decided I could live with a wet knee… Well, the second time I got stuck, my foot wasn't coming out by my steam. I simply could not get enough leverage. And just imagine my delight at the small group assembled around me as they rushed to my aid. Here's the problem. When someone is in that situation, there is simply no way to assist them. Well, maybe with a combination of Herculean strength and a young, flexible and thin stuck person, assistance could be offered and accepted, but it ain't gonna happen, my friend. I’m going to have to figure something else out…
Well, with my one leg up to my thigh in muck, I first managed to get on my other knee, the move that had me successfully freed from the marsh the first time. Well, I had absolutely no luck there, but, truth to tell, I was racking my brains trying to figure out a way to avoid actually sitting in the marsh, for obvious reason. Alas, eventually reality swung me around and screamed in my face, "Pam! You must take desperate measures to free yourself from the mouth of the hungry baby-monster!" So, I relented, sighed, and gently lowered my derriere onto the marsh - which, by the way, promptly became INTO the marsh.
Let's just say this - you know that feeling when you enter a pool or a lake and you finally get the courage to lower your crotch into the cold water, knowing that once you've done that, you may be able to withstand actually swimming in the water? Well, mighty cold, my friend, mighty cold. Suck in your breath and lose the ability to breathe for a moment cold. Mighty cold.
So. Now I at least have many more options open to me, along with many more people standing in a circle around me ready to rush gallantly to my aid. If only there were aid to be had, but I am alone in the midst of the tundra, sucked into the mouth of the hungry babe. Thank you, you kind people (I think to myself) for gathering around me for no other reason - at all, I am sure - than to pool your energies to perform a Spock-like mind meld with me to transfer that energy to me so that I might free my boot.
Now that my behind is resting, (and doesn't that beg for the phrase "resting comfortably?" However, I cannot use that hackneyed phrase...) I can roll. Well, that's the vision, anyway. This requires flexibility I thought I had lost somewhere in my 20's, but the mind meld must have been successful, and I am able to somehow maneuver my free leg around, under, and behind so that I've rolled into the following position: One leg in the muck to mid thigh, the other leg at the ready with bended knee, hands eagerly and firmly grasping the abundant plant life of the tundra - I am ready to lift myself up out of the mire! One! ~~ Two! ~~ Three! ~~ And...finally! ~~ I am ~~ counting again...
Now I reach out to one of my gallant rescuers, and he takes my hand, ready to lift me gracefully up and out. Okay. This is not going to happen, people. Were I much younger, much more flexible, much less stuck, much less generous (and I don't mean with my time...), perhaps. But, the reality is, there is nothing to be done to transform my emergence into freedom from the Keystone Cop-ish exercise it will inevitably be to a graceful lifting - No, this won't resemble a skating pair, in which the gallant man gently lifts the beautiful young woman easily into the air.
This is just me - just Pam - in a situation I never thought I would find myself in - ever - in a situation that I never thought I could endure - in a million years - negotiating ten things at once: being embarrassed, trying desperately to save face, trying to get this baby who, obviously, no one has fed in A WEEK, to release the nipple that is my boot, my foot, trying to find a way to assimilate the reality into my mind, my world of the 45 minute boat ride
awaiting me - oh, and that follows the "whee!" down the incline next to the shore - where the BOAT is that I both dread and wish for like the dickens - this is just Pam!
I'm praying that I still have two boots by the time I'm done with this debacle! And I finally, successfully manage to pull my leg out of the muck – still booted! - and hoist myself far up enough onto the dry edge to free myself completely from the marsh. Of course, my legs, my feet, and my lovely tushy, are anything but dry! Hey wait. Maybe I can market a new exercise program - Thirty Treks to a Tundra Tush! Guaranteed to get you enough berries for pies AND profit!
Just remember, because there is just a bit more to this adventure, that I still need to negotiate the incline by the shore - in reverse - and there is still a 45 minute scenic boat ride back to the village!