Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shirkshare Dales and the 426 Steps

Yesterday, the three of us were carried two hours north by a good friend to the magical land of the Yorkshire Dales. I woke with an allergy attack the likes of which I hadn't seen in a year--but which enjoyed making my nose blast as regularly and forcefully as Old Faithful. Tyler woke with a cough. Needless to say, Jennifer got us together, packed a picnic lunch fit for the Queen, and we made it into our friend's car and two hours later?


We stopped first at Gordale Scar, which is essentially a massive rock wall enclosure built by years of water wearing down stone. (Analogies ad infinitum ensue: the way persistence wears down resistance; the way faithful work as a writer wears down rejection; the way steady, loving parenting wears down temper tantrums; the way believing wears down doubt; the way humor wears down grumpiness; the way writing wears down not-writing; the way voices that continue to seek justice wear down nay-sayers...).

Tyler loved walking over the many rocks strewn about on the path to the rock enclosure, and at one point, he asked, "Where are we?"

Us: The Yorkshire Dales!

Tyler: The Shirkshare Dales! I like the Shirkshare Dales!

Us: We do too. We like them too!

After Tyler left a fairly substantial water supply by one of the rocks, we made our way back to the Park Headquarters for this area of the Dales, at Malham. We ate a picnic lunch as rain drizzled and three ducks and two roosters sauntered about, ever more boldly requesting various foods from us.

Next, we walked the one mile trek to the bottom of Malham Cove (where we were told, on good authority, that a section of one of the Harry Potter movies had been shot).  We learned that 426 steps led to the top of the Cove. The three parents (myself, Jen, and our friend) looked at each other and considered the facts:

Time: 3:30pm.

Who: Three adults and a two-year old, a four-year old

Status: Children becoming slightly delirious, throwing various items in nearby brook (all natural items, of course)

Decision: Go for it.

The five of us began the long trek up the top to Malham Cove. And here's the stunning thing--the really shocking thing: my legs complained more than Tyler's. He climbed those steps like it was part of any two year old's job description--eat ice cream, have the occasional tantrum, look super-cute and say the occasional highly charming thing, laugh like the rain, climb 426 steps to top of Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales.

At the top, the five of us sat, sharing three oranges, two granola bars, and a Cadbury milk chocolate dream. While the pieces of chocolate melted, carrying sweetness everywhere inside of us, the view that confronted us was like this: the way you feel when the mail arrives, and there's an unexpected letter from a fabulous source, and just looking at the outside of that envelope--stamps slightly covered in ink, your own name scrawled about the middle, the return address gorgeous ion its corner--gives you the indelible feeling that life is really something. Really beautiful.

And you feel gratitude for the letter that's been sent your way; excitement to open it and learn what's inside.