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Picnic at Split Rock

Dear Ann,
The last 10 days of August were quite literally a washout on the East End of Long Island. Now, I had no right to mope. Weather is weather. I generally like the rain, as it provides a respite from Wholesome Outdoor Activity. I can do more knitting, more quilting, more [insert seated activity here]. But day after day of rain, in a town with one movie theatre and no bowling alley—it eats the soul. You can read only so many Hardy Boys–as intrepid as those young sleuths are–and you can only play so many rounds of Blokus. Then (shriek!) you RUN OUT OF BLACK WINDOW ART PAINT. Without the black, you are nothing.
In this weakened state, you are a mere shell of yourself. Let me put it bluntly: You are Gameboy Fodder. You welcome the Gameboy into your home with open arms. You hope that Animal Crossing and Nintendogs are as harmless as you think they are, and that they have enough programming to last through one more rainy, whiny afternoon. You refuse to notice that somebody is playing The MisEdventures of Ed, Edd and Eddy, of which, when it was not raining, you Did Not Approve. You just want it to stop raining.
On Friday, the sun broke through the clouds for a few hours. But by then it was too late for me. I was experiencing visions and hearing voices. There is no other explanation for the story that I am about to tell. Visions and voices. Perhaps woodland fairies. You figure it out.
A pale, damp Boy spoke to me. He said, I don’t want to play Gameboy. I want to walk in the woods. I want to walk to the Split Rock.
I said to the Boy: How do you remember? You were 3 or 4. We CARRIED you. He said, you go through Dorothy’s yard and you follow the Indian trail until you get to the Rock of which I speak. Let us go, Mother.
And so we set off, the Boy and the Girl walking together. No Gameboys. No bickering. And what was really freaking me out: they were wearing their hats. WITH NOBODY HECTORING THEM TO WEAR THEIR HATS. Who were they? Where were they taking me?
At the head of the trail, we met a wise old turtle with an awesome Fair Isle pattern on his back.
I’m not saying this was a talking turtle, okay? But somebody said, ‘The turtle, he is so happy to be sitting in the super fantastic sun, that he will let the enthusiastic girl touch him.”
Walking together, the Boy and the Girl spoke of the Native Americans and how they had made the trail and where they might have rested along it. Passing through a patch of eroded sand with slippery footing, the Boy said, ‘Let’s work together! We can help each other.’
At that point I thought a gin and tonic could be helpful. Or maybe somebody could pinch me.
The Boy stopped to read every sign, even though they all said the same thing.
Are we trespassing? he asked. I said, well, maybe, but since none of this is really happening, it’s okay.
We came upon a frog. I didn’t hear anybody speaking, which I took to be a good thing.
The trail was longer than I remembered. I wondered what these children had done to my children.
Suddenly, the Boy and the Girl cried out, and began running.
It was the Split Rock.
They scrambled up.
They rested at the top. (No doubt receiving signals from a UFO hovering invisibly above.)
Helping each other, working together, they scrambled back down. We walked back home, quietly. A noticeable absence of bickering and bossing and complaining about being bossed.
It started to rain again.
Love, Kay




  1. Communicating with the UFOs indeed!

  2. Treasure the non-bickering, liking-your-sibling moments, for they are extremely precious. Keep them in mind for those times when they absolutely are driving you up a wall – there is hope for them! Glad you all had a good time.

  3. Long time lurker here delurking to say how much I enjoyed this post. It reminded me of the (admittedly) few times my brother, sister and I were at peace during the growing up years. Invariably it had something to do with nature or woodland creatures. Maybe aliens, who knows.

  4. I love your writing, Kay. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  5. Yikes !
    Shall I send help ? Yarn ? Tea ? …
    They’ll remember it as the best day. So glad the rain stopped long enough for some fun. August was a complete washout here. Very disappointing.

  6. My children are well trained in the nature walk, but you should see the quantity of video games they play. You would NOT approve.
    However, in my defense, I have the doctor’s permission to let them play.

  7. Kids are weird sometimes, aren’t they? I hope you got your gin once the walk with the aliens was over!

  8. Where is that Split Rock? I think I need to commune with the aliens, too! That was a perfect end-of-summer post. And the rain. Oh, the rain.

  9. DUDE! How ARE those Nintendogs?!? I miss them. By the way, I have some prescriptions that might help with the talking turtles. Lemme know.

  10. Peace at Split Rock: the Alien Replacement Theory of Child Behavior. There’s got to be an Education PhD in that–possibly a MacArthur genius grant if the you can figure out how to get the aliens to stay longer than an afternoon.

  11. yes, the Nintendogs – are they parched? famished? The kiddos were probably wondering what happened to their mother and how long they could get her nintendo-approving replacement to hang around!

  12. If you find the aliens that took over your kids, send them my way. The gameboy only works for my eldest so the bickering rarely stops. (youngest is three, to little for gameboy)

  13. What a great post. Nothing says summer rain to me better than a muddy game of capture the flag–we used to love that.

  14. Ah, the hallucinogenic joys of a walk in the woods with two non-bickering children.

  15. I love it when my kids get along. It is a little scary sometimes, though. lol

  16. Oh I have those same children. There must have been a sale that week. They are perpetually confusing.
    Nintendogs is mostly harmless. Not sure about the part where you check your dog into the hotel (permanently) so you can get more.

  17. What a great story! Remember this day when you are ready to put them out on the sidewalk with a sign that says “free to a good home. or any home, other than mine.”

  18. I’m very sorry that your original children were snatched by aliens, but the pod people they replaced them with are awfully cute. How soon ’til we get a pattern for a turtle-shell warshcloth?

  19. It’s been raining here too for days or weeks I don’t remember. I’ll give you my address (you know, for the aliens). I love a good hike with a great payoff!

  20. we’ve had the same soggy weather and I’ve actually stooped to adopting a “nofriendo” beagle. My 2 “warriors” are now united in order to keep the gamegirl from me, the competition. Therein lies their single cause for working together, anything to defeat the mother! By the way, my nintendog even has fleas as another testament of my neglegence. I love the warnings with that game- telling players that a live pet actually needs real care so don’t consider the e-pet practice for the real thing!

  21. Kay, you’re not crazy — turtles do talk; I swear the box turtles who hang out by my back door grouse about the quality of dog food I feed them. I didn’t know they channeled Manolo, though.

  22. I’d be wondering about acid-flashbacks and other such strange hapennings too.
    Looks like a great walk though.

  23. Goodness, my brother and I didn’t start being that nice to each other until we hit our twenties!
    Point of business: did you know that the postal service has Gee’s Bend Quilt stamps? Did you? How cools is that?

  24. that is amazing.
    the force is with you.

  25. You are too funny!
    I have only one child, so I’ll never experience the alien sibling abduction. It must have been quite unsettling!

  26. When my boys have moments like these, it never fails to bring a tear or two to my eye. Sometimes I start to think that they actually. Get. It. πŸ™‚ Great photos!

  27. When you get a day like yours, it really helps you get through all the barfy, whiny,doorslamming I hate you days.

  28. I’m sure as soon as the aliens realise they’ve got grumpy kids they’ll beam them back down to you.
    You have to watch those turtles you know, dangerous, subversive beasts they are. Not Super Fantastic like rabbits (Mouse is sitting by me reminding me that you are his, and you’d better stay away from turtles or wild rabbits etc. etc. and he’ll even sort the bickering kids out for you when they return as they’re not as tough as him).
    And the Gameboy – Super Fantastic for the developing of the hand – eye co-ordination skills! Hold that thought. Also good for some sort of problem-solving thinking skills, but I can’t remember the fancy name for them. x

  29. Loved this post! Everything about it. Great details, like the hats. And the Fair Isle necked turtle.(What did you say was in your coffee?)

  30. I love the noble turtle. What a guy. Thanks for taking me on your walk with ya. Want to trade kids for a week?

  31. How very pre-Gameboy of them. Reminds me of how I spent a lot of my childhood. Oh, and it’s actually a toad, not a frog. Gruesome fact: box turtles will actually eat toads if they get a chance. You probably don’t want to know how I know that.

  32. I think there is a nice geocache up in that area – It’s a great way to keep the kiddos busy..

  33. Fantastic post! You have beautiful children. I love the turtle and (I’m pretty sure your frog is a toad, but it’s kosher- they’re friends, so I’ve heard) photos!
    And hey- video games aren’t all bad- some of them really make you think!! πŸ˜‰
    Love the post!!

  34. Jesus, Kay, you had me freaked there for a moment with the title…I was worried one of the kiddles would suddenly disappear. That movie gives me the CREEPS.

  35. Fairytales can come true… they can happen to you… when you’re young at heart….
    Sounds like a wonderful trek that will be fondly remembered by all… even the tortoise and the frog.

  36. What a wonderful post! What a wonderful experience, albeit odd. Somtimes they surprise you, don’t they? Just wait until one goes off and the other is left at home, wondering, lonely and excited.


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