First off, a picture of Naomi smiling. Naomi is always smiling. Or if she’s not, her needs are very simple–food, sleep, removal of Milo from her chest. This is in direct contrast to Milo’s needs as a three-and-a-half-year-old, which I haven’t quite figured out yet.
The day started out bright and early with Daddy-made eggs and oatmeal. Hot chocolate is packed as a treat for the hike.
On our way to Mt Oxford, one of the foothills of the Southern Alps closest to Christchurch, Milo announced that he wanted to go to the beach. “Well now, Milo, we can go to the beach another day, but today we’re going to the mountains.” Whinging starts. Jeremiah got the pleasure of carrying him, with the constant complaints in his ear. “I’m too hot!” Hat removed. Ten seconds later “I’m too cold!” “I want to go to the beach.” “I want to get down.” “I want hot chocolate.” A peanutbutter-and-jelly buys us a few minutes of quiet.
We should acknowledge, for the record, that he did move under his own locomotion, for a few minutes. We were walking through a beautiful beech forest that cloaks the lower reaches of the Alps. Nerdy tip: These beeches are a different family than those we’re used to from NY (Fagaceae). Called “Nothofagaceae,” the family name means “bastard beech.” I guess the taxonomists are from the northern hemisphere. Nothofagaceae have tiny leaves and there are members in South America from the bygone days before continental drift. Jeremiah wants to bottle the musty-sweet smell of the beech forest and sell it as a men’s cologne, he likes it that much.
Half way up the mountain the beech forest abruptly ended and the tussockland took over. All the grasses are decked out in their finest frozen water gems. On the south side (shady side) of the mountain it stayed below freezing all day.
A bit higher up the rain must have been freezing as it felt to build these sharp crystals along each grass stalk.
As we climbed up out of the shadow of the mountain the warmth of the sun abruptly greeted us. You could feel it first on your hat, then face, then shoulders, then knees. The mountain was outlined in a sparkling halo.
This is why we hike. You can see for miles up here, and looking north or west all you see is more wilderness.
Last time we hiked Mt Oxford (November 2012) there was new snow on the mountain, even though it was nearly summer. This time, in the dead of winter, the snow is still confined to higher up in the mountains.
We met another group of hikers at the top and Milo perked up–he likes people. He hasn’t got a shy bone in his body, and is happy to share with total strangers whatever happens to be forefront in his mind. Plus, one of the hikers retrieved his mitten that he dropped half way down, and over which he had been worrying. Two mouse mittens, Mommy’s warm puffy vest, and another shot of hot chocolate brought out the smiles.
Miss Naomi, for the record, was still smiling. She actually got a bit cold on the way down but we didn’t know until we felt her hands at the car, since she didn’t make a peep.
Aw, family photo. With each family member that we add it’s exponentially more difficult to get everyone 1) looking at the camera and 2) smiling. The Canterbury plains stretch out below us, and if the haze under those distant clouds wasn’t hiding it, you’d be able to see the sea. Despite the Milo Whinge, it was a glorious winter day.