Friday, April 14, 2006

Return of the Woodland Ninjas!

Thursday was a horrible day to be working. It was 70 degrees and sunny, and every time anyone opened the door a few feet from my desk, I could smell the spring-scented air and hear the breeze calling me to come outside. So as my day progressed, I had an email coversation with Tirithien, as we often do when work is slow and he's not busy, and it went like this:

Bainwen (11:02 AM): I want to go outside and play. The spirit of Woodland Ninja summons me! But no, I'm making spreadsheets. :-p

Tirithien (12:02 PM): Then let's go play. :-) We can go ninjaing tonight, if you want. :-)

Bainwen (12:18 PM): Thursday night ninja-ing (ninjing?)... For some reason, against my custom, I wore jeans and sneakers to work today. I'm ready to ninja. But I've got laundry to do, and groceries to buy, and my apartment is a godawful mess....
But it's 70 degrees and sunny!
Oh poot. I am coming to you as soon as I get out of work. Foo upon all of the housework. :-p Woodland Ninja time is needed desperately!
So I should get there just about almost when you get out of your class.

Tirithien (12:28 PM): Class is out at 5:30. :-) I'll be walking over to the parking lot right after. :-D

Bainwen (3:36 PM): Almost time for ninjing! And how slowly my last hour goes. :-(

Tirithien (3:39 PM): One hour to ninja... ;-)

Bainwen (3:49 PM): Yes, the time grows near. Whee! :-D
I love you, my kolaninja!

Tirithien (4:03 PM): Yes... come to me and ninja with me. :-)

Bainwen (4:11 PM): 20 minutes and I'm out the door. Invisibly, of course. ;-)

And at 4:30 I was out the door (though not too invisibly, since I hadn't planned for ninjing that morning and was in a rather bright blue shirt). On the freeway with swiftness, heading south to my love and the green woods of Toledo. (THAT is one thing Toledo did with perfection; their city planners left room for amazing parks!)

To my surprise, it is much more spring in Toledo than at home. You wouldn't think 40 miles would make much difference, but it does. Their trees have leaves! And flowers! And the woods at Wildwood Metropark were full of daffodils and forget-me-nots, and how strange it was to see daffodils growing wild!

Wildwood is a park of trails through a rather vast woodland preserve near the Ottawa River, and it's a simple enough thing to leave the posted trails and head out to explore. So this we did, going much further into the woods than we had ever done before. We were rewarded, though; we saw the tracks of deer who ran, and a confluence of scuffled deer tracks as if two great stags had battled there for dominance. We saw a smallish mammal pawprint with HUGE claw marks. (Badger on the loose?) And then-- oh glory! Across the river, a beautiful whitetail doe grazing placidly on new grass; then down by my feet, the tiniest garter snake ever, a delicate brown serpent with wee black jewels for eyes.

Before we knew it, it was getting dark, but we thought we knew exactly where we were. The main path is just up that hill, right? Of course it is. In the growing twilight, we made our way around gigantic puddles, over and under fallen branches, and across small running streams to the base of the hill. My, it certainly looked steep. And tall. And covered with slippery leaves from last fall. And muddy.

Well, woodland ninjas should not balk at such things, so up we went! Oh, I could definitely tell that it's early in woodland ninja season. My lungs protested, and my legs protested even more loudly. Then to top things off, the path wasn't there! Well, never mind, we knew which direction to go, and we'd connect to the main path.

Then we realized the hill we were on was a sort of island, surrounded by small streams feeding the Ottawa with rain runoff. And it was very steep on all sides. And it was getting darker and darker.... and the path must be at the top of THAT hill over there. You know, the one which is even steeper than this one and across a particularly wide section of stream. Oy.

Okay. Down we went. I admit to doing the graceless, non-ninja-like thing and sliding down on my bottom part of the way. (On purpose, I mean.) I can climb up pretty much any hill I've faced with no issue at all, but going down the same hills kick my fear response into high gear!

Now how to cross this stream? It was far too wide to jump. (I probably could have done it with a running start, but there was no way to get up a good run with the steep hill behind me, and no good place to land with the steep hill in front of me.) There was, though, a very fortuitous fallen tree which we could use. No, I didn't walk across the log. It was slippery. Again, I did the graceless non-ninja-like thing. (I'm only an apprentice woodland ninja!) I straddled the log and used my arms to scoot myself across. (And for the record, I really need to work on my upper body strength. Ow.)

Yay! Across, and up, up, up some more-- and there was the path! Whew. It was full dark by then, so woodland ninjing would have become very difficult.

Safely out of the park, and off to get some dinner, and I went into the restroom to wash the woodland ninja mud off my hands. I peeked at myself in the mirror and saw myself pink from the sun and exercise, my freckles all showing strongly, sweaty, a smudge of dirt on my cheek, my hair a mess with a few bits of leaf caught in it... and an exhilaration and laughter in my eyes I hadn't seen all winter.

Welcome, Spring. The woodland ninjas are very, very glad to see you again. :-)


martie said...

Sounds as if you had a lovely time! I'm really glad you got out of the ninja woodlands before dark set in. I'll bet you slept well! How sore are you today?

Bainwen Gilrana said...

I slept like a log. I am so glad I have today off from work! Surprisingly, I'm not too sore, though my legs and lower back are certainly making known their displeasure with me. But they'll get over it. :-)

Tirithien said...

That was sweet. :-) Now to put my carving skills to work on a couple hiking staves.

naive-no-more said...

For a while there I wondered if "ninjing" was synonymous for something else. :~O

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Hey, now, this is a family-rated blog. :-o

Bougie Black Boy said...

what in the world is going on in Detroit!

Beth said...

How fun and very sweet! It's spring here, too, if about 20 degrees warmer. Happy Ninjaing! *fnarrs lecherously*