Actually, it wasn’t funny. At all. It was a gigantic freaking bummer. I’m sure I’ll be able to laugh about it in a month or so. I mean, last night I was 12 kinds of disappointed and 7 kinds of pissed off, and now I only feel generally annoyed. Progress!
In the midst of trying to create a meaningful tradition for our family, brainstorming that has mainly led to keeping lists “for next year”, I hedged all my bets on our outing for Solstice eve. I started the day with little presents for Fern and Jeff in bed, while we ate mandarin oranges and Fern left the half chewed carcasses on my side of the bed, where they seeped into the sheets so it looks like someone had an accident. The rest of the day was low-key, with a mid day surprise of a care package from Grandma and Grandpa Timmins (Hi Kathy! Hi Mike!). No reason to do much else, because our little excursion was going to be The Best.
~Our care package included a gingerbread bear made with love, with Fern’s name on it and candy eyes and nose. Fern immediately began to pick off the face and only looked slightly startled when I added characterization, “Oh my eyes! AAAAh!! I can’t see! Oh the humanity!!”. She looked at me puzzled and said, “What’s that?” which means “Good grief mother, what ARE you doing?”. It was hilarious, but I forced myself to stop so she could MURDER her cookie in peace.
~My little love gladly shared her sadistic pleasure.
Round ’bout a quarter to three, we rounded up the posse to head out to Turtle Rock. A little over an hour down south in the Santa Cruz Mtns, Turtle Rock is a site historically (and possibly still) used by the Ohlone to mark the Winter Solstice. In a similar vein as other neolithic stone constructions, Turtle Rock has a crack in the top that aligns with the sunset on Winter Solstice. It’s off the beaten path, but I still expected a small, cheery gathering and was so jazzed to deepen our experience of the seasons with local history. It was going to be Just The Thing. It would be the Beginning of Solstice Traditions to Come. In essence, I Put All my Sun Eggs in One Basket.
And then we got a flat tire.
A certain amount of pain- in- the- assedness can be expected to strike at any time from the Fickle Finger of Fate. But you see, I did feel that recently I had dealt with my share, at least for the next few months or so. Exactly one week before, my car had been in the shop for a crappy wheel baring. I got it back after a couple of days and it immediately got a flat tire. We then realized we had to get all new tires. Lotsa time, lotsa money, but at least we felt that our trip down to So. Cal for Christmas could be driven in safety.
I don’t know what happened. There was nothing in the road. But all of a sudden there was a “Ka Klunk, Ka Klunk, Ka Klunk” sound. Jeff said, “Don’t worry, it’s probably just a branch stuck in the undercarriage.”. I pulled over on the sketchiest little turn out on the windiest little road and we were witness to a loud, “SHHHHHHHHHHH” coming from my brand new tire as it leaked out it’s life. There was no nail, no branch. Just a hole.
Fortunately, there was also a little service station just up the road, and we hobbled to it on the spare. I spent the next 45 minutes feeding Fern crackers and watching the locals pull up to buy whiskey, while My Hero bought a patch kit and after much futzing, we were re-inflated and ready to be on our way. Except it was 15 minutes to sunset and we had half an hour to go.
I’d like to say that this is where we had a chance encounter with Magic and Serendipity and realized the true spirit of the holidays and we all got our wings as the bells on the shop door rang. But instead, we pulled over when we realized we weren’t going to make it, snapped a few pics of the golden horizon while Fern cried, “It’s windy! Want get back car!”, turned around and drove home. This could also be the point where our hearts grew three sizes and we all felt the bond of family as we understood that all we need is each other. Unfortunately, what I felt like I needed was to watch the sun set into some woo woo boulder because I had decided it was going to be the Star on top of My Tree. Nobody talked for half an hour as Fern shrieked in the back and I navigated tailgaters all the way to the highway.
Eventually the mood thawed as we listened to Cold Play and discussed topics varying from Louis C.K. to the moral compasses created by religious theology. Finally I said,
Me: You know what I want to do when we get our property?
Jeff: Not leave for an entire year?
Me: Yes, that. AND…get a giant rock and chisel a crack in the top of it to make our own goddamn solstice thingy.
So there you have it. Rule number one of our new tradition…We’re not leaving the f*cking house.