Is this how family traditions get started? You do something once, and then again … and then it’s looked forward to and you enjoy not only the event but the memories of the first time, the last time, that time when …?
There was chatter about blueberry picking at Leif’s parents’ place on Saturday. How it’s just easier to buy them already picked, and the wild ones just are too much trouble. I had a sudden memory of warm sun, cool breeze, plucking handfuls of tiny sweet blueberries by Mystery Lake. “Oh, we’d talked about going up to Mystery Lake,” I said, or something close to that, to Leif. “Now it’s all rainy, we probably missed our chance. Blueberries are probably all done too.” Cameron’s blue eyes filled up with tears. “Whaaaat?” He looked devastated. “But we have to go there, we have to pick blueberries, we missed it? Mama!” I suggested that, even if we missed the blueberries, we might still have a sunny weekend before it got snowy up there, and then we could go. It helped. “Tomorrow,” he asked? “Could we go tomorrow?” I said sure, if it was sunny. The rain poured down outside, pounding loudly. The last time I’d seen a weather forecast it’d indicated that Sunday would be rainy and miserable. Monday was supposed to be a little better, but Leif had already planned to go golfing.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, with clear blue skies. Leif asked what we should do, and I said that it should be something outdoors, we couldn’t waste this sun! “I know! We could go to Mystery Lake,” Cameron begged. “Please? Please?” We grabbed water, snacks, (and of course a whistle, flashlight, knife, first aid kit, most of the ten essentials even for this fairly tame hike)changed clothes, and headed for Seymour.
Up at the parking lot, the air had a bite to it. Big puffy clouds soared past overhead. Leif had never been to Mystery Lake before, and while I was pretty sure I knew the way, it had only been twice that we’d been there. So we consulted the map before setting out. I’m glad I’d been there before, actually, the entrance to the trail is a bit hard to identify, given that it looks like a stream bed. In fact, it IS a stream bed, and after a night of hard rain it was … wet. Muddy and puddly and streamy and oh-hey, the wooden walkways over the worst parts are rotted and pretty much gone. Oh well, added to the adventure. Leif expressed surprise that I’d hauled Cameron up there at two and a half – because he knew I’d done that, he’d been expecting something a little more tame and path-like. There are a few scrambly spots where you’re climbing up tree roots, where I remember lifting Cameron, getting his feet secured and saying, “Stay right there,” then climbing up and lifting him the rest of the way. But now he’s bigger, and more able, and he could manage it on his own. Last year, the hike part felt like it took forever – Cameron was able but slow as molasses. Betty kept hiking ahead, then waiting for us. So it was a surprise when I recognized the bluff overhead. “Oh-hey. We’re just about there. It’s just around the other side of that!”
Suddenly we were there. A small, peaceful lake, smallish cliffs lifting up on the other side, trees bright with autumn colours. A few couples came and went around us. Cameron was gung-ho to get moving, he did NOT want to just hang out, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!
We climbed up on a rock, where Leif was taking pictures and taking in the scenery, but Cameron didn’t want to hang out. So I climbed back down to help him – where in a sudden inspiration, he cried, “Pick me, pick me!” And so I did. Just like last year, and the year before, I lifted him up into my arms for a big hug, telling him I’d just picked the sweetest blueberry on the mountain.
Speaking of which, there weren’t many left. A few here and there – most of what I tasted were sour, not candy-sweet like when we were there last year.
Too soon, it was time to get going. We had dinner plans! But we didn’t really like the idea of slithering down that muddy stream-bed path. So Cameron and I scouted around one side of the lake, and found the trail that leads around the other side of Mystery Peak. But Leif found a link to the trail that descends from behind the peak, which saved us much time. So we hiked back down along ski runs covered in scree-like rocks, with breathtaking views of the city spread out below.
Three years in a row we’ve gone to Mystery Lake in the fall. We’ve picked blueberries, and I picked the sweetest one. Each time Cameron and I have gone with different people. Next year we’ll hopefully bring Kate along, and maybe hike further, see what’s on the other side of Mystery Peak.
And you? Readers from far and wide? What sorts of traditions do you have? How did they get started?