Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Runnin' With The Devil

No, where we live now isn't nearly as teeming with wildlife as Davis, but I found some yesterday whilst on my afternoon run. I've fallen into the good habit of running every day after work. Since Summer rejoined the American workforce (health insurance again!) I work with Gretchen and Charlie, and I load them into the double jogging stroller and head towards the C&O towpath for our afternoon exercise. Usually both of the smaller Williams' fall asleep before I cover the eighth of a mile (8th) distance to the towpath, but yesterday was different. Charlie wanted to run with me, so I promised that once we reached the towpath I'd allow him to run. Not to be out done by her big brother, Gretchen too, decided running would be fun. So with both kids running around their old man, we trudged towards Maryland. Charlie, always the considerate one, decided he'd shove the stroller awhile, and shove he did. Not three (3) steps into his job he gives the stroller and push and lets go. The stroller bounces off towards the edge to the trail, and then down.

I watch as the stroller eases off the path and begins flipping end over end towards the Potomac River. I certainly didn't expect that, imagining the stroller would become snagged in the myriad of sapling that line the tow path. When finally it did become snagged, it was fifteen (15) feet beneath the trail on what can best be described as a cliff. The stroller contained: one (1) backpack with Charlie's books and toys, one (1) jettisoned shirt, one (1) set of keys, and one (1) cell phone now ringing. This is the part where Charlie and Gretchen learn how to string together four (4) letter expletives in a fluid and convincing manner illustrating amazement and frustration.

I suss out a path to the downed stroller, which came to rest upside down and front wheel pointed skyward, assign Charlie the job of holding his sister's hand and not moving while I descend the cliff and attempt a rescue. Every step crumbles beneath me and sends me sliding into the aforementioned saplings, but I finally reach the stroller. I grab the front tire, lift, and find out the only life form capable of making this loose dirt cliff their home, hornets. Awash in hornets, I scramble back to the trail giving Charlie and Gretchen a refresher course in expletives, and of course stroller-less.

Charlie is looking concerned at this point. No conveyance home, a dis-shoveled dad speaking in what he must consider tongues, and with the knowledge that he put us in this situation. Well, I'm no father of the year, but I'm not going to fail at retrieving their ride, no matter where it lay. Deciding to sacrifice my body to the hornets, I again slide down the cliff to the crash site. Placing a firm hand on the front tire, I lift, I twist, I pull, I fight with my free hand, and each sapling I try and use for help yields to my weight and exposes their tiny roots as if to say, "what the hell are you doing here, we can't even grow thicker than your thumb...dumb-ass". Each step up sends me sliding back a foot, but with motivation courtesy of the swarming hornets, I reach the trail with stroller in hand.

We take an inventory of the battered baby vehicle. We are missing one (1) backpack, one (1) set of keys, and one (1) shirt. Damn! I spy the shirt (atop the nest of hornets) and the backpack (in the river!), but no sign of the keys. Again I slide down; first going to the river; grab the backpack and pick a line to the shirt, lift the shirt and there beneath it are the keys (yes!), all lost items in tow I scramble hand over hand away from my tormentors, and towards my kids (I know, what's the difference now).

Not to be defeated, we hobble down the trail a bit more before turning around and heading home; Charlie and Gretchen still running around their old man.


Cory said...

Bravo on a tale well told and items all retrieved. Tormentors abound!

Anonymous said...

S-town is where the commercial for Stihl chainsaws was filmed years ago....chainsaw falls out of a truck and rolls down the side of a hill almost into the river - then starts right up when recovered. Substitute stroller for chainsaw and you have a similar story!

Channy said...

That is rich.

Every day is such dedication. You'll be proud of me though, Tony...I've worked up to three miles 3-4 days a week. I'm officially...a mediocre runner!