Suddenly, I heard a loud rumbling coming from high on the mountain. It sounded like a crack of thunder, and rumbled in my ears like a gunshot. But it went on for too long to be either a gun or thunder, and had too many sharp new sounds buried inside to be just a disturbance in the air like an echo.
Just at that moment, a man-Oscar in running clothes with hiking chopsticks came bounding up the trail behind us, running with the same rockethorse enthusiasm as me. He had the kind of shapely butt that tights were invented for, and made a mountain man beard look tidy just by opening his toothpaste-ad smile in the middle of it.
We navigated like cowboys, or Indians, or Mormons by jagged rocks that looked like they’d been blown up, and then past rocks that were jagged in a much flatter way. We worked our way steeply up and down striped lumps of rock, and past deep belly-buttons in the rock with pools trapped at the bottom. Finally, we came over a ridge and far below us I could see a canyon filled with peaceful water of deep jewel-colored grey surrounded by bright fire-grey cliffs that were rounded off as if they’d been polished.
“No, Mom, this is awesome,” I corrected her. “It’s better than awesome. It’s… There’s no word for it in your language for how awesome it is.” So I barked the word in my language, and then did a cartwheel followed by a sprint to show her what it meant.
“Lemme at ‘em! I’ll bark at ‘em, and I’ll chase ‘em, and then I’ll bark at ‘em while I chase ‘em!” But Mom, who doesn’t understand how to appreciate wildlife at all, ignored me and slowly chased the beasts to my side of the street.
We ran 5 miles up and down the dooms. Then we ran through trees that grew right out of deep sand. Then we ran on the beach. And when we left the beach we ran through the grass, which only lives in deep, deep sand. Everywhere we ran it was sand, sand, sand! Have you ever run in sand before?
“How do I be encouraging without pressuring her... just in case she’s the kind of person who barfs?” I asked. I know all about barfing before the finish line because that's what Mom used to do when she was excited and messed up her pacing. “How about just 'Go'?” Mom said. “Yeah! That’s good! Use two of them!"
in front of us the mountains were bare and covered in dirt, with a few graveyards of bone-trees sticking out of the hillside like thorns. We walked for miles through the tree graveyard, and it was kind of spooky, but pretty too, like a Tim Burton movie with the lights turned on.
That's why I was still tied to Mom when we came around Creature Corner, where I have met a lion, a wolf-dog, and too many bunny rabbits to count. This morning there was a new creature flumping across the path. It was a horseshoe-crab-shaped ball of fur that moved like a land sting ray. "STRIPEY STINK-CAT!" I barked.