Posted by mothership on:
The other day we decided to go for a nice long walk, or rather Husband decided we would go for a nice long walk – I and the children wanted to sit around indoors eating chocolate and getting on each others’ nerves - but he insisted that we would enjoy it once we were there (he was right) and packed a bag with provisions and hauled us into the car ready for our big adventure. Sometimes we forget how incredibly lucky we are to live near such natural beauty here; we take it for granted and thus ignore it, but on this February day we drove less than fifteen minutes and parked on a quiet suburban street near the ocean. On one side there were houses, on the other a small park with a hill leading up to the entrance of an enchanted forest of eucalyptus trees, creaking and swaying like fragrant, elderly bones in the pale winter sunshine.
Four and Husband ran ahead, with Four repeatedly ambushing us from the overgrown grass on either side of the path like a clumsy leopard, startling and amusing several other ramblers while One busied himself with the important task of picking up sticks and beating the ground mercilessly with cries of triumph – that will teach it to lie underfoot. After the usual delays (insect inspection, nose-wiping, sudden and arbitrary refusal to move from a given spot) we came to the section of the woods that we had been searching for. At this location, every winter, thousands of Monarch butterflies come and shelter in the woods and the trees are literally covered in them. It is an awe inspiring sight. The forest has actually been declared a nature preserve and there are ropes and signs around the favoured resting places. From there you can walk through the copses on to the bluffs by the ocean and down on to a stunning, wild beach with nary a development in sight.
So this is just what we did. We spent some time watching the butterflies, careful not to disturb any of them as they fluttered around, or any of the very earnest photographers who had set up important looking tripods and were measuring light with technical and professional seeming instruments. We romped up on to the bluffs and ran all the way to the path down to the beach where we had a delicious daddy-style picnic (chocolate and water! Not exactly nutritious, but it was met with great enthusiasm by all). Four started making sand angels, which are like snow angels except you have to wash your hair afterwards and vacuum everything else, and we hunted for shells and seaweed with which to decorate them.
We found some shells and seaweed, and also copious amounts of broken glass from beer bottles which Husband, grim-faced, set about collecting to bring back off the beach in our picnic bag, muttering about students, (the likeliest culprits, being the closest inhabitants) selfishness, lack of awareness, disrespect for the environment and advocating a return to a more authoritarian style of education. This surprised me somewhat as Husband is a mild-mannered man, an educator, and almost always of a liberal mindset. However he is easily shockable and cannot fathom that people might not behave with common decency towards one another and would be so selfish and revolting as to break glass intentionally on a beach. I find this utterly endearing in him, that he has such faith in the goodness of mankind that he has devoted his career to saving the planet on all of our behalves.
I, myself, find it only too believable that people can behave like this and while I commend his efforts and join in, I have a far more judgemental and unpleasant view of other people and think that a large number of them are monumentally self-serving and it’s only getting worse. I comfort myself by devising unpleasant punishments for social transgressors if I were King of the World but this is not looking very likely. However, here are some of my ideas. You are welcome to add some in the comments section, it could be endlessly entertaining.
If I was King of the World Punishment List:
If you break bottles on beaches/places of natural beauty:
You have to pick them all up with no gloves on and put them on your bedroom floor and walk around at night with no slippers and no light on.
If you smoke and you drop and leave your cigarette butts on the ground (lit or unlit):
You have to pick all of them up within a certain area, say a square mile, with only your moistened tongue
If you allow your child to behave like a rude, disrespectful little monster:
You should be forced to teach fifth grade to thirty five like-minded children with no support for a year and no pay. Then let’s see what you think
If you leave your litter lying around the playground:
You have to wear it upon your person (first offence) or eat it (subsequent offences).
If you talk loudly at the cinema I don’t actually think you should be shot, like one patron actually did to a talkative family the other day ( I believe it ended badly for him too) but I definitely think you should be chucked out and told not to come back, unless it is a matinee or a film for small children.
And so on and so forth..
At this point I am going to stop and invite you to add your own offenses and punishments to the King of the World list. If I am, by any small chance, elevated to this position it will be most useful to have it handy in case I run out of my own outrage and am in need of prompting from other loyal, like-minded subjects.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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