Birthday Adventures

This year is a milestone year for me in
many ways. Suffice it to say, I’ve been going through a rough patch
since…October. Yes, that’s right, October. It’s been a very difficult year for me. Getting through that rough patch has meant starting a
new chapter in my life.
Since my life is now looking up, I
decided it was time to celebrate. My birthday is usually a one-day
event (or actually, an event that takes place for a couple of hours
on that one specific day each year). This year, I decided to celebrate for five
days straight. In order to make that possible, I took a vacation. Now, I
would like to share my vacation with you.
Day 1:
My daughter and I began the day with a
shopping spree at a local bookstore. I had a number of gift cards for
that establishment, so I didn’t have to spend a nickel. Then we took
our treasures and drove up to a cabin deep in the north woods where we met my parents. This
place has been in my family since my great grandmother and great
grandfather bought the land and built on it ages ago, so it felt sort
of like coming home. This is where I wanted to spend my birthday
week, in a place I love with the people I love most.
After we unloaded the car and ate a
small lunch, we went down to the boathouse and put the rowboat in the
water. This was a very big deal because it was my daughter’s first
time ever to go out on the lake in a boat. Last summer, she sat in
the boat while it was tied to the dock, and that was a big enough
thrill at the time…that and dropping pinecones, leaves, twigs and
rocks into the lake to see which sank and which floated. This time,
we were ready for more! A tiny orange and black butterfly (about the
size of a quarter) flitted all around us on the dock. It seemed to
enjoy my dad’s company the most.
Then we saw one bald eagle over in
the bay sitting on the shore while its mate sailed high up in the
sky. When we finally got out on the water, we saw a loon at a
distance. We rowed all around the bay, circling the loon. On our way
back to the cabin, straight across the deepest part of the lake, we
watched as the loon disappeared beneath the surface of the water. I
took the opportunity to explain its diving expertise to my daughter.
But our wildlife adventures had only just begun. While my dad started
up the grill and my mom got dinner started, my daughter, our dog and
I took a walk along the twisting and turning road. We saw another
butterfly, a bigger and more beautiful one (according to my
daughter). It was black and white. We also stopped when we noticed a
tiny green caterpillar that was dangling by a thread and watched as
it began to form its cocoon.
And THEN…the most amazing part of the
day… On our way back to the cabin, just as we turned up the drive,
I heard a rustling noise in the leaves. I wandered off the drive to
investigate and found a turtle. At the time, I wasn’t sure of the
type of turtle it was, but I could tell it was a turtle and not a
tortoise because of its webbed feet. I now know that it was a
western painted turtle. It was a small one but not tiny, about the
size of my hand with my fingers spread. Its shell was a dark green,
and there were red marks on its belly. It did not try to bite me when
I reached down to pick it up, so I knew it wasn’t a snapping turtle.
Why is a turtle so amazing? I’ve been coming to this cabin since I
was a baby, and the only places up here I’ve ever seen turtles, are
on logs sunning themselves out in the lake, and that has only been on
occasion. My daughter and I brought the turtle up to the cabin so my
parents could see it. My dad said he’d never seen one up here either.
Then we took it down to the lake and released it near the water. We
watched as it slid beneath the surface, and I learned why I’ve never
seen a turtle here before. When the turtle was less than a foot into
the lake, he virtually disappeared. Now I’m sure that there are
turtles all around us, in the lake and marsh areas in the forest,
hidden in plain view.
After dinner, my parents left and I spent a relaxing evening with my little girl. She watched as I popped
popcorn on the stove top, a treat we got to enjoy together while she
cuddled with me, and we watched The Rescuers.
Day 2:
The day began overcast and rainy. What
a soothing sound at 6:30 A.M. The rain let up by 8:00, but continued
to threaten our plans to go out for a longer boat ride, so just
before noon, we decided to head into the nearest town for an
afternoon of shopping at the Christmas Shoppe with Rainbow Dash (one
of the new items my daughter had chosen at the book store) followed
by playtime at the local library. Then we picked up some ingredients
for M&M cookies. By the time we returned to the cabin, it was
nice enough to spend more time down on the dock and in the boat
rowing across the lake. But first, we had to return to the grocery
store (a 40 minute round trip) because Rainbow Dash had been left
behind on one of the grocery store shelves. The highlight of today
was watching a large dragonfly, as it studied us, while we rowed
across the middle of the lake.
So was the morning wasted? Heck, no!
Remember about our shopping spree yesterday? The watercolor book was
painted in, the Summer Bridge Activities book was well used, and I
even had a chance to read about famous women in the latest National
Geographic special edition.
Day 3:
I guess I’d classify day one of my
birthday week as primarily a nature day, day two as a mother/daughter
day, and today as a kid day. We finished The Rescuers last
night before bed and began The Rescuers Down Under. We’ll have
to finish that one tonight. That will be a nice conclusion to “kid
We began the day by getting up bright
and early…wonderful sunlight woke us by streaming through the
bedroom window. After a quick breakfast, we drove into town to look
for a nature class I’d read about. Ends up, it was a half hour drive
north. Yes, of course we went! My daughter spent a fabulous two and a
half hours learning all about different animal adaptations. They
observed wildlife, they played games, they created mobiles; it was a
busy morning. Then we drove back to town for lunch followed by an
afternoon at the beach. As I was spreading out a towel, a little girl
approached me and asked, “Can your little girl play with me?”
I said, “Why don’t you ask her?” She did, and they had a
blast playing in the sand and jumping off the dock into the water.
The highlight for me, in addition to watching my daughter interact
with other kids today, was an amazing sight at the beach. A full
grown bald eagle started circling above the children. I walked across
the beach and pointed it out to them. As soon as they noticed the
eagle, it spotted a fish in the lake and swooped down to capture its
dinner. So cool!
The beach was followed up with two
long-standing traditions: a stop at the local ice cream store and
after returning to the cabin, a walk to the end of the road.
Day 4:
Today was my actual birthday. It began
with a “Happy Birthday” text from a close friend, and rain
followed by a thunderously loud storm. I read for a little while, but when the storm began in
earnest, I returned to the bedroom to cuddle with my daughter until
she woke up. Then we began our day together with more indoor
activities, one of which was watching Disney’s Tarzan (another
first for my daughter) while we cuddled for another 90 minutes at her
request. (She’s not afraid of storms; she just loves the cuddles!)
Nana and Gran’pa arrived at the end of the movie. They brought a
chicken salad lunch, a card and chocolate cake, but before eating,
they asked what we wanted to do. The rain had mostly fizzled out by
that time, and my daughter really wanted to go back to the Christmas
Shoppe with her grandparents, so that’s what we did first. Then we
returned for lunch and cake. Later in the afternoon, after the rain
had completely stopped, we went down to the dock and bailed out the
My daughter and I took one last trip across the lake and
back. For the second time ever, she tried her hand at rowing and
quickly caught onto the rhythm of it. We again saw the loon and
watched as it dove for fish. The cool wind kept the mosquitoes at bay
but another dragonfly checked us out in our little boat, and we found
a few white and dark brown feathers floating on the surface of the
water. When we returned to the dock, my dad helped me put the boat
back in the boathouse before they left. The day had begun with a text
from a friend, and it ended with “Happy Birthday” phone
calls from another friend and from my brother and his kids. I was
also told that there are birthday wishes for me on FB, but FB will
just have to wait as I have no Internet access at the cabin.
Day 5:
I’m counting this as the last day of my
“birthday week.” Tomorrow will be the start of a short road
trip with a good friend, but since that was planned months ago, I
don’t think I can count it as part of my birthday fun. Today, I’ll be
taking my daughter into town to participate in a class for young
children at the local library. They’ll learn all about air or so I’ve
been told. She’s really looking forward to it, so I’m sure we’ll have
fun. Then we’ll close up the cabin and head back to my hometown.
While Nana and Gran’pa watch the little one, I’ll be hanging out with
my friends at a local bowling alley/pub/pool hall, and we all know
how that ended last time…
Wait? You haven’t heard that one? That
was when I suffered not one, but four, yes, count
them…four head injuries in the span of about two years.
The first was when I tackled my
escaping beagle as we were leaving the house for a Memorial Day lunch
at my parents’ house. My husband chased the dog and yelled for me to
block the pass; I ran forward through the gate; heard the dog coming
down the pass alongside the garage; saw a brown, black and white blur
leaping for freedom; and on instinct, I leaped too. I was nearly
eight months pregnant at the time. My forehead slammed into the
cement retaining wall to the neighbor’s property, but I caught that
dog, and thank goodness, the dog cushioned the baby.
The third head injury happened during
the winter. (I’ll get back to the second one later.) I was shoveling
the drive early one morning after a winter snowstorm, so I could get
my car out for work. As I worked on the end of the drive, I didn’t
see the ice hidden beneath the snow. My feet went right out from
under me, and the back of my head crashed against the cement. As much
as it hurt, I was not about to pay for a visit to the ER or to miss a
day of work. I simply monitored myself, making sure my mild headache
didn’t get worse, checking my pupils periodically for proper
dilation, and letting my assistant know to call 911 if I were to pass
out, throw up, etc.
The fourth incident caused an
instantaneous and intense headache. It happened at a local pub that
housed indoor sandpit volleyball. That winter, I played on a co-ed
league there. I should be clear that we didn’t play to win, we just
played for the camaraderie and to have a great time. Our server hit
the ball over the net. It sailed right to the middle of the opposing
team’s court. As I was leaping to block the ball, the full grown,
very muscular man across from me, spiked it as hard as he could. The
ball smashed into my forehead, causing my head to snap back and
leaving a red circle on my forehead. The jerk didn’t even apologize.

Okay, so now we all know what happened
the last time I had a birthday party at the bowling alley/pub/pool
hall, right? No? You want the details? Oh, all right! A group of my
friends, my husband and I were all bowling at the time. My
nearly-two-year-old daughter was with us because my parents couldn’t
watch her that night and anyone else we would have asked to babysit
was at my party. So…we simply took turns watching her while we
bowled. At one point, she bolted forward and ran straight down the lane.
On instinct, I ran after her. As I reached out to grab her, her feet
slipped out from beneath her and so did mine. We went down together,
but thankfully, her head landed on me while mine hit the bowling
alley with a loud “thwack!” Don’t worry, this year, I think
I’ll stick to the pub and pool!
S. L. Wallace has been taking a break from writing, but she plans to get back to it very soon as she is anxious to continue her current project, a supernatural compilation. Ms. Wallace is the author of a dystopian trilogy, a supernatural/historical fiction novella, and a speculative fiction short story.

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S.L. Wallace is a natural born storyteller. Daydreams, sweet dreams, nightmares...they all come from the same place, the world of imagination!

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6 comments on “Birthday Adventures
  1. That was a wonderful five days! Best wishes as you get back into writing.

    • Thank you for the writing wishes, Stephen. I can't begin to express how happy I am to have a clear head back so that I can focus on my writing. I always knew the cloudy days would pass; I just didn't think it would take so long!

  2. Sounds like you and your daughter had a fantastic time. I'm so pleased. A belated Penblwydd Hapus to you.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. Good thing you have a hard head. 😀

    Your birthday week sounds like it was a lot of fun. I'm sorry I missed your actual birthday, so I'll send you a belated happy birthday text. Hope it works.