Past the swimming pool, there is a grove of trees. If you walk it, more trees. I was confused at first because I thought, Well, Europeans (exception of Russians) already chopped down all their big trees, and don’t have any wildlife left but deer and squirrels. It wasn’t like I was going to get eaten by a bear or a cougar. Euro forests are just big tree parks.
There is a stretch of beach where nobody can go because endangered birds nest there. There are signs in English and his language. Behind that, the trees.
The trees were mostly Birches. I thought, for some reason, they would be coniferous; evergreens.
I went into the trees. I tried to be very careful because I have an awful sense of direction. It’s honestly the worst of anyone I’ve ever met; it would be comical if it wasn’t so bad. I’ve gotten lost on fucking hiking trails. The GPS is a balm to my soul, like a safety blanket, but I didn’t have it then. It doesn’t work over there.
I tried to pay attention to where I was going so that I could get my way back to the beach. Also, the ocean has a smell and makes noise.
THEN the kid came up, the eldest son. I heard him come up because he was crunching stuff underneath his shoes. Guys are mostly loud.
Was it a hundred yards…? I was only a hundred yards into the trees.
I was startled. There was no reason for him to be there.
He said that he wanted to show me where he and his brother played “Pirates.”
There were five or six boulders, each the size of a car or a bed. It looked very incongruous (is that redundant?). I wondered how they got out there, piled together in the middle of nowhere. Then I remembered my undergrad geology class: they were probably moved by a glacier thousands of years ago (geology, should anyone ask you, is basically the history of rocks).
“Let’s see if I can fit now!” he said, and climbed up the boulders like a billy goat.
There was a slim crevice between the stones. He had to take off his jacket, but he dropped through it.
He popped up and extended his hand: “Let me show you! There’s a space under here.”
I turned around and headed back to the beach. All the hair on my arms was standing up.