There are plenty of disadvantages to being the primary care giver for kids, but a few days ago even I had to admit that I had a pretty sweet deal.
It’s school holidays right now, the two week break between each quarter of the school year. It’s always a juggle with working parents, but this time some friends and I decided to take a day or two off, pack up the kids, and head into Rod Donald hut for an overnight.
It’s a hut that you have to book, so we took a gamble on the weather. Last time we walked in there it was wet and misty, but the hut has a nice cozy pot-belly stove and the walk is so short that we could bring luxury food and games; even a hut-bound overnight is fun. And these two friends happen to be English, where any weather is good weather, so I knew we’d be ok.
Look at that blue sky! We “lucked out” with the weather. That’s a term I never really contemplated,, but the Kiwis find it really confusing….and for good reason. I don’t mean that I was out of luck, but rather that I got lucky!
It doesn’t look like we’re on our way to a hut in the hills, but we kinda are. We stopped at Birdlings Flat on the way to Little River, where we admired the stones and searched for agates.
Sally is a geologist, so you can see why she’s happy.
The little gem and mineral museum at the end of the dead end road is really worth a stop. The book there said that agates are formed in the voids left by gas pockets in lava. Water laced with minerals finds its way into these bubbles and slowly deposits crystals. The resulting agates wash up at Birdlings Flat as they are eroded out of the mountains, washed down the Rakaia River and tossed up on the beach. I love them almost as much as the kids do.
The hut is perched on the side of a hill overlooking the town of Little River, but the track to it actually starts above, at the pass. Since we were driving past the hut access road on the way there, us mommies hopped out of the car and carried the bulk of the overnight gear up the steep drive to the hut. That way the hike with the kiddos was really more of a stroll through pasture than a tramp.
Look at these hooligans! We were three moms and six kids, a passel of noise to be sure. The boys walked along brandishing sticks at imaginary zombies and kicking a rugby ball, while two girls tied themselves together with a tow rope and sauntered along in a pair.
The hill top trees are warped by the prevailing wind into grotesque shapes, nice to contemplate on a pleasant sunny day, but fearsome if you were faced with the prospect of an exposed overnight in bad weather.
There’s our hut. Such a lovely site.
The kids made themselves at home with games….
…and with drawing
The mommies played on the slack line. It’s a funny thing when I stop to think about it–why do I find this balancing game so fun? I’m not sure. Balance is a skill, it takes practice, and every time I make it to the other end I feel accomplished. Yeah, I probably just crave gratification.
What a friendly view. Last time we were here we just had to imagine it, swathed as we were in mist. This time the kids played hide and seek for hours in the grass outside the hut.
It’s interesting sharing kids with other moms, watching their styles. Milo spent–no joking–45 minutes trying to get this 2 meter long domino train of cards to work. They’re very touchy, and he kept knocking them down before he was finished. Emma took pity on him and used a pencil to make a safety stop so he wouldn’t lose the whole thing if a section fell over, a well as fended off the rest of the gang from coming too close and accidentally setting them off. I was ready to call it an exercise in futility and move on at the 15 minute mark, but both Milo and Emma were determined, and they eventually got it. Boy, are they pleased with themselves!
Failed attempt number 572:
Success at last:
School holidays end this weekend, and Naomi’s sojourn at school starts on Monday. The times: they are are a-changing.