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Dizzying Heights

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 04:15 AM
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by Brandy last modified Aug 06, 2011

I’ve talked a bit about the property our house is on.  It sits at the top of an uphill lane that we share with four other homes on about half an acre of land. The lane is covered with tree … Continue reading →



I’ve talked a bit about the property our house is on.  It sits at the top of an uphill lane that we share with four other homes on about half an acre of land. The lane is covered with tree limbs like a canopy and makes for a peaceful entrance, except when one of the girls sticks her hand out to slap the leaves of the bushes on the side and either giggles hysterically or ends up crying. The former owner was quite a gardener and the land right around the house is filled with beautiful flowers: foxgloves, lilies, buttercups (which some people tell me are a weed, but I say a weed is only a weed if you don’t like it), daisies, roses. There is also oregano and rosemary and mint gone wild, a cook’s heaven.

Behind the property line is a green belt that leads to a gully through a downhill trail. The girls love exploring this and we often don’t see them for hours, as mentioned here. Ainsley has been obsessed with building a fort at the bottom, obviously subscribing to the ‘room of one’s own’ philosophy as well. She (with some help!) made walls of branches and ferns. She took a pallet found on the side of the house all the way down there by herself for a floor. She has boards over the little stream to make a bridge. It is a beautiful space for her. She wanted to keep its location a secret. But like all secrets and ten-year-olds, the two were soon parted.

Her three sisters also built a fort of their own, being not exactly welcome in Ainsley’s sanctuary. They used the wood from the rockery for a floor, which Maeve and Hailey dragged down with Hannah as the ‘supervisor’. Fort is a loose definition of what they built seeing as they saw fit to put in a fence, a bar and a tiny table and call it ‘Bamboo Island’. I am certain it’s lemonade instead of Mai Tai’s. For now. I was waiting for the Professor and MaryAnn to show up for happy hour.

The other night they asked me to head down the hill to visit their creations. Now, I am not a huge nature girl. My definition of being in nature is on a patio next to a pool or ocean. I appreciate the mountains and the woods. I do. In small doses. I do love water and am happy anywhere near big bodies of water.  Big ones. Great lakes. Gulfs. Oceans. Rivers do not qualify. Lake Washington works in a pinch, but only because there aren’t many other close options. I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico and spent a large part of my adult life on Lake Michigan (Chicago….sigh).  I like the sound of lapping waves. I feel at peace there. Much the way I imagine people who hike or climb mountains feel. I think the advantage of living near water is that you don’t have to hike or mountain climb, which is a big plus in my book.


I have something called benign positional vertigo. I am not sure how I got it. Apparently it’s usually from a blow to the head. (Hmmm. ‘She falls down a well, her eyes go cross. She gets kicked by a mule. They go back. I don’t know.’) But it makes me very dizzy and I am particularly affected when going downhill.  Even a little hill.  Like stairs. I always hold on to the railing. Maybe I’m just clumsy, I don’t know. I have broken my ankle twice. This reared its ugly head the other evening when after a day of working particularly hard on their ‘forts’ the girls wanted Brett and I to come down and see them.

I love my kids and for them, I would conquer my fears and go down the trail to see their handiwork.  I mean, it’s a small trail.  100 yards, maybe. I could do it. The path was pretty well cleared. The girls pointed out all the places where there was stinging nettle. The first mistake was wearing flip-flops on this adventure. Any part that was slightly slippery scared me but I hung in there. I had to cross a log over a small ditch. I had to fight off blackberry tendrils. I had images in my head of clearing through the brush with a machete ala Indiana Jones. I could hear the theme music in my head.

But once we got down there, it was worth the anxiety and dizziness. I could see how hard the girls had worked, how proud they were of their efforts. And I loved the idea that these are the memories they are building of their childhood, full of adventure and imagination. Forest exploration versus Sponge Bob. I would climb down any mountain for that.

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