Holiday spirit has set in for good, and the days start blurring together in a new routine: sleeping, eating, browsing, maybe walks or driving or grocery-shopping or multiple of the above, a movie, and then it’s back to sleeping. It’s neither terribly action-packed nor terribly boring. We rarely take two walks in the same place, but the blueberry forests are similar enough to each other that the descriptions would hardly differ unless they were very detailed, and if they were they’d probably just end up being a different kind of boring. The change from a gravel road to a dirt path covered in roots and needles is dramatic for one’s feet, and curious to one’s ears, but words about it on a page are not enough to entertain a hungry brain.
On Day 8, I brave the shower again – all the lakewater during the past few days may have whisked away most of my sweat, but swimming just isn’t a complete replacement for actually washing myself. Especially my hair and scalp are noticeably in need of shampoo, and if I’m already washing my hair, I might as well wash the rest of myself, too. I have the sunny porch to warm me while I read afterwards.
Once when I wander onto the porch littered with D’s workout equipment, he hurries to assure me that he did not actually use the weights sitting on the squatting rack for squats, of course he can squat much more. I’m highly amused, both because I never would have noticed (as if I knew which weights would be appropriate to do what) and because he’s so emphatic in defending his honor. The exchange also gets him curious about what I could squat, and I’m game to try.
I step to the rack and place my shoulders beneath the bar as instructed. It’s too high for me, but I can lift it off the rack by standing on my toes. The bar presses into my skin. No wonder D’s shoulders and neck feel like leather in some places.
I step back and start to sink into my knees only to quickly abort the mission again: my legs might be strong enough to raise me back up, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose my balance sometime before that. D removes most of the weights, and the second attempt goes smoothly. Then he puts some back and it still does. My brain doesn’t do numbers enough to retain how much weight it actually was, so I can’t tell you, but the exercise was fun and I’m much warmer now, so that’s something. I add some handstands for good measure and call it a day in terms of working out. (All this slacking off might come back to bite me when I start my regular routine again back home.)
In the early evening, we drive to the nearby observation tower on a whim. (I drive. I’m getting better at it, too.) We climb the metal stairs and look out over the lake and the forest some time while the wind whips my hair into my face, then we climb back down and take a walk along a forest path freshly marked by bright pink signs. For once, it’s high grass and wildflowers instead of blueberries, and more deciduous trees than usual. We don’t know where the road leads, so we turn around after about fifteen minutes and walk back to the car.
Because we’re in a viewing mood, we make another stop at a hill with an equally good view. There are some motorcycles parked there when we reach the hill, and a few people standing in front of the map explaining exactly what it is viewers are looking at, so I walk off into the forest to the right looking for a quiet spot. I find a fallen tree to sit on that offers almost the same view, and D and I stay there for a long time, looking out over the lake and talking.
When my junk starts to go numb from being pressed against an inconvenient branch, we drive back home and I talk D into watching Blade with me. He leaves to go work out after pretty much exactly half, and I stop for a browsing pause that somehow lasts until he’s back and we go to bed.
Day 9 must be almost warm enough for swimming again – a walk confirms that it’s at least too warm for that. I end up sweaty, itchy, and slightly paranoid I might have caught another tick somewhere I can’t see. (D found a tick crawling across my butt yesterday night in bed. Falling asleep afterwards took a while.) I check all body parts I can see in a mirror when I get back home, sigh at the depressing realization how many spots there are that I can’t see and/or check thoroughly, and resign myself to my fate of being potentially tick-infested.
D lets me park when we go grocery-shopping now. It’s thoroughly ugly to watch, and it annoys the other customers trying to use the lot because everything takes me ages (and involves the occasional engine kill), and scares D for the safety of his car, but I leave no fatalities and am quite happy with myself.
One evening, we drive to a climbing wall at the far side of the lake. We came here last year once and decided against climbing it because I was wearing my sandals, but now I’m better prepared and secretly looking forward to being better at a sports thing than D for once.
Unfortunately, all holds around the bottom were removed – maybe to prevent exactly our planned kind of unsupervised usage. I try to jump and pull myself up by the holds I can reach twice, but without success. Climbing the scaffolding behind the wall works, but transferring to the wall once I’m high enough proves too difficult, so I’m forced to give up.
We take another walk instead, following a path curving around the lake for a while. It has blueberries, conifers, birches, and mossy boulders to climb and play lava floor with, so it’s nice anyway.
Back at home we watch the rest of Blade and fool around on the couch, and then D leaves to work out some more and I compose an email to my grandparents (my grandmother texted asking how I was doing yesterday) and my father to catch them up on what has been going on in my life. I haven’t been doing as well academically as I had hoped (and they had expected), and writing about it leaves me with the bitter taste of failure. I know they’re always happy to hear from me, though, and I’m tired enough to hit send anyway. (They write back the next day, thanking me for the email and expressing sincere but misplaced faith in my abilities.)