I would really love for Cameron to get over his fear of the woods, and the bears that surely lurk between every two trees, sooner rather than later. But I know you cannot push these things. It’s just a case of time and exposure, I’m sure.
Last weekend we went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a nice and fun method of getting Cameron into a rather domesticated forest. It worked! He had a blast, and bears seemed to be the furthest thing from his mind. So this weekend it was time for the next step. Again, I needed a lure to coax him into the woods. Another bridge!
Yup, it was time for Lynn Canyon. This happens to have a suspension bridge across it too – one that’s narrower, swings more, and hangs down more making it rather steep. If the idea of the Capilano one didn’t appeal to you, trust me, this one wouldn’t either. A bonus, however: this one is free.
Cameron was thrilled, and didn’t even bat an eyelash at the bridge. He marched eagerly right onto it, and balanced with admirable skill as the bridge swayed and rocked under our feet. He happily looked down, down, down at the rushing river below, but wasn’t too interested. Wind whistled through the trees all around us.
The other side happened to be perfect for an introduction to a less-tame forest. There’s initially a lovely boardwalk, nice and wide, and lots of people. So many people that Cameron didn’t even mind when the boardwalk ended and we were walking down a dirt path, climbing down boulders as we descended to the river. But the groups of people thinned, until finally at one point we were briefly alone; nobody in sight. I made the mistake of pointing this out to Cameron, hoping that he’d be okay. Nope. Apparently groups of people are safe, but Mommy’s presence isn’t quite enough. He flipped, and wanted to go back, right now, Mommy, I’m not joking!
I’ll admit it. I lied to my son. Sort of. “Honey, this way is the best way out of the woods. Look ahead, there’s a patch of sunlight, see?” Sue me. There was indeed a patch of sunlight, and in it was a marvelous old tree trunk that had rotted out in the middle so you could walk through it. Tears dried up and fears dissolved, as we played hide and seek around the tree. A group caught up with us, and passed us, and with them in sight Cameron could pretend we weren’t in the forest any longer. So we followed them. As the sunny patch disappeared from sight behind us, his confidence did the same. “I want to go back, Mommy, I want to go out!” Again, I repeated that ahead was the best way to go. See? Sunny patch ahead!
In the middle of this large sunny path was an enormous lump of rock, smooth and gently sloping on one side, steeper on the other. At first Cameron declined, he did NOT wish to climb it. But I did! Really, it wasn’t challenging for an adult, just a little slippery underfoot. A nice and gentle smear kind of climb. I got maybe four and a half feet off the ground, and sat down on a bit of a ledge. That was enough – Cameron wanted up. It would be a good twenty minutes before I could coax him off again. He climbed, getting the knack of it quickly and teaching a couple of older kids how to do it, then slid down on his shoes and rear to do it again. Happy and free, he scrambled around.
Eventually I pried him off the rock, and we headed down to the river. Rushing, bubbling over rocks, swirling in small eddies, the cold water was wonderful on feet. Cameron climbed around, and directed where we went next, heading for the big pool where he could easily wade. It was crowded there, with people sunning, swimming, fishing, playing guitars, and just having fun.
From there, stairs climb and climb and climb. Cameron was easy to convince, and up we went. Every ten or so steps he’d stop and announce that he was WAY high up. At the top, the population pretty much was us. And after a short walk, finding nurse logs, we found ourselves in the woods with nobody in sight, and no clear path to follow. Was this a problem? Wow! Not at all! We kept looking for nurse logs, finding hollow trunks, discovering fungus. He loved saying fungus so much he sang about it.
Finally, it was time to take the path that led back to the bridge. We kept making forward progress, and I kept Cameron happy by playing “Jump on my shadow” with him. Even more hilarious was the length of time he spent trying to jump on his own shadow. We raced down a wide path to try to find the chipmunks we saw dashing across way ahead.
There was just the bridge (and a short walk) between us and the bus back home. But Cameron had one more surprise in store for me. I asked him to walk a little ways and stop so that I could take his picture. He’s never keen on this activity, but I had ice cream on my side. He didn’t stop. I followed him across, and he kept yelling back at me, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying over the river and wind. Finally, he made it clear, he wanted to cross the bridge by himself. Go BACK, Momma. So I trekked back, and set up my camera to film this. Watch for him – he’s in orange.
Yes, I gave him the promised ice cream. He even got sprinkles.