Mandi and baby Rinks
Ashley and Buddy Lee
At Home Tennessee writer Mandi Gaskin discovers that all you need in life is laughter, family and a good map.
Text Mandi Gaskin | PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy Mandi Gaskin
As I write to you at this very moment, I am unable to bend my legs or walk without looking like I have been on a horse for 12 straight hours. Why, you ask? Allow me start from the beginning.
Like many of our fellow Americans, we have been cutting back during this recession and getting back to the basics. After all, isn’t that what life is all about— the simple things? And so on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my husband Ashley and I decided to get creative and go old-school by having a family picnic in the park (just call us “The Cleavers”). We packed up baby Rinks and Buddy Lee the dog and headed off for a day of family bliss. We had a wonderful lunch of crustless pimento cheese sandwiches courtesy of yours truly (a.k.a. June Cleaver) while conversing about how pleasant it was to stretch out under the summer sun. In fact, we were so proud of ourselves for being thrifty that we thought, “Why not stretch out our family fun and go on a stroll on one of the nearby trails?” So once again we packed up Rinks in the stroller and Buddy Lee on the leash and off to the woods we went. You might even say we had a pep in our step; enjoying the scenery and smelling the fresh scent of pine, while appreciating the simple things in life that money can’t buy. Sure, there were hills that were at least 45 degree angles, but I welcomed the challenge since I am still trying to lose the last 15 pounds from pregnancy (or maybe from my excessive love of chocolate chip cookies). We were having great conversation along the way, so good in fact that we looked at the time and realized we had been walking for an hour and were on our third mile.
And as Paul Harvey puts it, here is the rest of the story:
2:15 p.m., Mile 4: I casually start to wonder when this trail is going to end and begin looking around for any signs of an exit. I don’t see one, but I decide not to panic because we are still appreciating the beautiful scenery on our blissful family outing.
2:33 p.m., Mile 5: We look at each other nervously as there is clearly no immediate end in sight, but neither of us wants to admit it, so we mumble something about needing some exercise and laugh uncomfortably. I look ahead to see the next hill coming up, which is starting to resemble Mt. Kilimanjaro.
2:48 p.m., Mile 6: My legs are in the third realm of hell, so I start pleading to God that if he would miraculously send a cab then I will never swear again. (He didn’t, so the hell with that.) The once beautiful scenery now looks uncannily like the forest in Hansel and Gretel, minus the breadcrumbs, which I would have willingly paid $1,000 dollars for at that very moment.
3:05 p.m., Mile 7: Ashley starts getting Walker’s Delirium, as I have now named it, and begins ranting on about how the trees are really alive and naming off flowers that look like trumpets. I know this should cause me to worry, but my big toe is starting to go numb and I am pretty sure it’s bleeding through my sock which of course conjures my inner hypochondriac telling me that surely it will have to be amputated.
3:23 p.m., Mile 8: At this point Rinks has practically spent a full day of daycare in his stroller as he has already played, napped, eaten lunch, had a snack and then fallen back asleep. Again.
3:41 p.m., Mile 9: Ashley starts negotiating who would be the first to be sacrificed for food so the rest of us could survive. Buddy Lee wins by unanimous vote (our apologies to PETA).
4:04pm, Mile 10: Like a veil unfolding from the heavens, we see civilization sprawling out before us and we practically start hugging and crying. But since we can’t really move at that point, we just give each other knowing smiles. Because we know that when nature calls again, we will be heading straight for the nearest Chili’s.
Mandi is a writer and a mom. She is married to Ashley, who for reasons she cannot understand, never uses a map. You can follow her on her blog or check back for her monthly columns in At Home Tennessee.
For this article and more, check out the August issue of At Home Tennessee on stands now!!