The Misadventure Continues...
In my last story I told you all about my week hanging out on the farm where I grew up.
The week reminded me of wise things kids know and adults forget... Like the joy of creativity, adventure and most especially misadventure. When giving up control, schedules and planning creates a portal to enchantment. And the gateway is always something unexpected...
Like getting hopelessly bogged up to the axles in the forest at sundown with no mobile phones and five wet and muddy little boys to keep safe.
This is where I left you last time.
Quite a few readers have said, “Hey so what happened next?”
Well, here’s the rest of the story…
My sister and I and our five boys had spent the afternoon exploring the bushland adjoining the farm we grew up on.
It had been a magic few hours of creek walking, wildflower photography, breathing seriously fresh bush air and eating biscuits together on a log.
Reluctantly we called time and boarded the bike for home... Most of the wet kids relegated to the trailer.
We didn’t get far before we came to a very boggy crossroads.
I’d gone high on the first pass, but I asked the boys, “Should I go on the edge or straight through the middle?”
Of course they said the middle.
I must have been high on forest air because I went for it…
And that is how this happened...
I’ve never seen it so wet. Literally knee deep soft jelly mud, and we were going nowhere.
I tried reversing out.
“Shit” I said. “Shit” Stace said.
“Dad’s not going to be happy about this.”
We all tried pushing it out with 10 year old Murray steering.
Shadows were getting long, the temperature was going down and the kids were all saturated from creek walking.
We needed a plan... We thought it would be a good idea to send Ned, Che and Sid (the three youngest boys) ahead to start walking home to get help. Murray and Indi stayed behind to help push.
We collected bits of wood and attempted to tuck them under the wheels to create some traction.
But after repeated attempts at pushing it out the bike still would not budge.
By this stage Sid whose boots were still full of creek water had splish sploshed his way back to us.
We left the muddy big boys with the bike and Stace, Sid and I started walking home to get help.
Sid is five and likes to stop and examine every rock and leaf so it quickly became clear I’d have to take off on my own and leave Stace and Sid to meander.
I am a fast walker so I high tailed it through fences in a straight line back to Pa's house. All the while looking out for Ned and Che. I had expected to catch them up but when I didn't see them or even hear them, I started to worry.
It was getting dark and all the boys were wet and now two of them were off in the wilderness somewhere.
It suddenly felt really stupid to have broken up the group. Isn't that rule #1 of any horror movie?
I called out a few times. Nothing.
I thought perhaps they’d walked quicker than I’d anticipated and were already back at Pa's.
But they weren’t.
As I arrived home my partner James already had his coat on and was about to come out looking for us.
He was worried too since we’d been gone so long and it was getting late.
“We bogged the bike!” I called out.
I told him I wasn’t sure where Ned and Che were.
We threw a couple of ropes in the car and took off over the paddock so we could drive along the fence line and keep an eye out for the two of them.
I thought I’d see them walking across the paddock but all I could see were sheep, cattle and the lone windmill.
I started to imagine they’d fallen down an old mineshaft or rolled down a hill and broken a leg.
But then to my immense relief I caught sight of them through the trees and they came jogging happily over to the car and jumped in.
They told us with a glint of adventure in their eyes that they’d taken a wrong turn and realised when they started going up hill, so turned back and found the right path.
They were both giggling and smiling ear to ear.
We continued on over the wet paddock, leaving two lines of evidence in our wake, across the wall of the swollen dam and up through the ‘Bush Gate’.
A ways down the road we came upon Stace and little Sid, who was shivery but ever stoic.
He got stripped down, rubbed dry, wrapped in a towel and put safely in the car.
It felt kind of satisfying to collect everyone along the way. A bit like a red cross van collecting fallen soldiers at the front line.
And then finally we made it back to the stuck bike and two very muddy, very happy 10 year olds.
I'd also been worrying about them being all muddy and wet for so long, especially given that the afternoon was well and truly on its last legs. But I needn’t have worried, they were in heaven. Both by this stage covered in a suit of red clay mud, rolling around laughing.
Stace and I mentally lamented how in the hell we were going to get those muddy clothes clean.
Looking at the bike, things seemed pretty ridiculous and I felt a bit silly for getting it so stupidly bogged.
I mean I was a farm girl after all wasn’t I? Even though I like to think of myself as strong and capable, in truth I was always much better at making tea than driving farm machinery... Tractor driven over a gate and very nearly over a levee bank and onto the main road because I couldn’t remember how to use the clutch – case in point.
As I stood there feeling contrite, James tied one end of a rope to his bulbar and the other to the front axle.
I climbed onto the bike, put it in neutral and then mentally crossed my fingers.
Happily the bike slid straight out. Phew!
We reattached the trailer and the mud monsters climbed in. If it hadn’t been for their smiles and chirps of excitement they might have blended into the landscape, since they were wearing it!
I drove the bike and by the time we got back to Pa’s house it was well and truly night.
We were all high on adventure and spent the evening eating cake in front of the fire and telling tall tales until bedtime.
Once the week was over and we were on our way back home we asked the boys what their favourite part of the week had been?
Getting bogged of course.
In my last post I spoke about the lessons we can learn from kids – like not stressing about muddy clothes, bogged bikes and night falling.
I stand by my point, but I do also think that kids can exist in the wonder of childhood because they know the adults have it covered.
But I also think we spend way too much time as adults trying to control everything, which causes stress, unhappiness and is anyway pointless since control is an illusion.
Life is much more enjoyable when we give up control and enjoy the ride.
And although I like to think us adults saved the day, I suspect if we hadn’t been there the kids would simply have enjoyed a mud bath and then trodden home telling tall tales and giggling all the way.
…However I can say with certainty that kids are not so good at getting mud out of clothes.
I guess us adults are a little bit useful after all.
When things don’t go to plan get set for an adventure. It could well be the portal to something wonderful.