Picnic at Split Rock
September 6, 2006
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.