I started my birthday with a four mile paddle with Judson Steinbeck, expert paddler. Let the record state that for the first time I did not bash the side of the canoe with Jud’s carbon fiber paddle as I rushed to switch my paddle from one side to the other. Also, let the record state that for the first time ever I heard something from Judson’s end of the boat that sounded a lot like a carbon fiber paddle bashing into the gunwale of the canoe as he switched from one side to the other. But I won’t mention it here.
I saw a kingfisher – my first kingfisher sighting. I also saw a nighthawk. I pointed these things out to city-boy, Jud. (Actually, our paddles usually sound something like this, “Eddie, look over there, it’s a blue heron – no over there by the fallen tree – more to the left – never mind it’s gone.”)
Thank you, Judson for a beautiful and fun start to the day!
When I got home from paddling, I spent some time with my hens. I let the girls roam about the yard while I raked out the chicken run. I turned over my compost heap, taking frequent breaks to chase the hens out of my neighbor’s yard. My wife came out and accused me of working on my birthday. But when you are a pretend farmer, herding chickens and shoveling compost are the pinnacle of fun.
My wife made me a glorious breakfast of scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes. All around me children ate processed cereal from cardboard boxes.
After breakfast we got the bikes ready for the traditional birthday bike ride. (Getting the bikes ready should take ten minutes to walk them out of the garage, but somehow it always takes about 90 minutes of primping, potty breaks and packing. [That alliteration was accidental])
We rode to Myrick Park and out the Rabbit Trails, then took the La Crosse River Trail to Riverside Park. At the park I was surprised to see that the City of La Crosse had hired a band to celebrate my birthday. All of my friends, most of whom I did not recognize, were sitting on the lawn while the band played from the band shell. It was very fun. They forgot to call me up on stage to sing Happy Birthday to me, but that is okay. I’m sure they were just deferring to my shy humility.
When we got home from the ride, we were dripping with sweat (it was around 90 degrees) and I started a huge water fight. This is incredible, because if you know me, you know I avoid water and discomfort of any kind. But the extreme heat melted my boundaries and I endured bucket after bucket of ice-cold water being thrown at me from puny children. Claire, ever the sneaky child, proved herself quite adept at aiming a bucket of water such that it went mostly up your nose or curled your eyelids backwards. Still, it was freezing water on a sweltering day, so we let her play.
We finished the day with a pasta feed to replace the carbohydrates we had burned during the day’s extreme activities. The meal was followed by chocolate cake and ice cream. I waited for the familiar call of “Dad, can you finish my cake?” but it never came. I cannot stand that my children are getting big enough to finish their desserts. I don’t really like maturing or aging in any form.
I hope you have a good birthday this year and the numbers on your birthday sign are much smaller than mine.