Hike

I feel like our family has had a lot of magical experiences. Here’s one.

Daveon, from age 7 to about 15, played baseball. Every spring—and a few falls—he signed up for little league and was out there every practice, every game, every time.

As 8- or 9-year-olds will, he wasn’t exactly the best at keeping track of schedule changes. So it was that one time we faithfully drove up the hill to his Double A field, only to discover that practice had, clearly, been canceled. There wasn’t a soul in sight. Not sure how I missed the memo, but it wasn’t the first—and certainly wouldn’t be the last—time.

Being sort of a planner—I believe the term my old therapist used was “control freak”—I don’t always do so well when these kinds of situations arise (read: adult tantrum). But this time, instead of complaining about poor communication, and the wasted drive, and what I could have used that time for instead, my guardian angel must have been in town, because I was inspired to say:

“Hey, we’re up here now, and we have a free hour or so. Let’s go for a hike.”

So we did. The park where the practice field is located, if you know the Oakland Hills, is kind of amazing. There’s a stone stairway that leads up to an outdoor amphitheater, with a creek running alongside that ends in a fountain. Of course, being me, and having lived within shouting distance of this great place for over a dozen years, I had never explored it in any depth.

So, the hike begins. Starting at the fountain, we made our way up the stairs, seeing little lizards (salamanders?) and other cool such creatures in the rocks and water. I want to say frogs, and/or turtles—but don’t quote me.

We detoured around the amphitheater, and made our way to the top of the ridge. Up this high the little critters were replaced by birds—lots of big, scary-looking, predatory birds. And then, at the very top, a young guy playing sax. Just up there, in the middle of nowhere, by himself, tooling away on his alto.

Because, when I think of red-tailed hawk breeding grounds, the first thing that comes to mind is Johnny Hodges.

We sat and listened for awhile, thanking him for the impromptu show. And then we started making our way down, passed what looked like a garden area, and came up to a low stone wall. What magical place could this be? A rock garden, or another secret stairway?

And so, of course, we hopped it. And then found ourselves, not in a garden or on a stairway, but inside the amphitheater—the very empty, very locked amphitheater. The “low wall” we had just hopped was now a very high wall indeed from the inside, with no grabbing places to climb back up. We wandered around for a good while testing all the doors and gates, and sure enough, we were locked in. We finally came to a six-foot chaing link fence, so of course I did responsible, role-modeling father with his two impressionable sons would obviously do: I boosted them over it, and then hopped it.

We made our way back down the stone steps, more lizards, salamanders, maybe turtles and/or frogs, and scored it practice 0, ticket for trespassing 0, adventure 1.

Next: Bedtime Hits

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