From my field notes, October 2013. A glorious day with the Wee Lass.
She told me a story that October day as we walked in the woods. It was a magical tale, complete with a fantasy landscape.
We walked the trail above the Chasm of Death, its banks littered with fallen leaves. A stream burbled along the bottom, which I was informed was called the Stream of Happiness. It flowed down the valley past an orphanage, where it provided drinking water to the children.
We climbed a little higher. Mossy boulders guarded the stream. They grew larger as we climbed. Trees had fallen across the trail and the watercourse. One particularly large trunk was dubbed the Native American Log of Electrocution. I asked why that name. She looked at me with that expression reserved for askers of truly stupid questions.
"Because it electrocutes people."
Ah, of course. Silly me.
We arrived at the Magic Waterfall. It was here that she confessed to me that she was not a full tour guide yet, only a backup. Ordinarily she was a dishwasher at the company HQ, but they were so busy today she was put on duty as a guide. She casually mentioned that if she completed the tour without a customer getting injured or killed, she would get a promotion. Or a raise. She seemed a little confused as to which one.
I looked down the ravine. In light of her remarks on injury and death, the steepness took on a whole new cast. I wondered if there was a connection to the orphanage she had mentioned.
The climb continued. We crossed the stream in front of the Magic Waterfall. Climbing up a set of stones that served as steps, we came upon an arrangement of boulders reminiscent of an oversized club chair.
"Ah! This is the Chair of Healing!" my guide exclaimed. Travelers could rest here and have their aches and pains taken away. Handy to have, especially if one might have fallen into the Chasm of Death.
We made our way over to a widening in the stream. It became a pool in the woods, fed by a small but picturesque waterfall at the upstream end. It was here that my guide declared "If you will put your camera away, we will now go fishing!" Her tone and commanding demeanor left no doubt as to what I was going to do.
She fashioned a pole out of a smallish stick, stripping off the little twigs along its length. The bait was conjured up from a leaf she found on the stream bank. A leaf without holes, mind you, because a holey leaf was "not proper bait" as I was solemnly informed.
She directed me to make my own fishing pole, out of the same materials. She handed me a stick while showing me which twigs to remove. I fetched a nice leaf, coppery brown, and adorned the end of the stick. A glance of approval from my guide, and we set to in the pool.
The fish, I am sorry to report, were not biting. My guide chewed her lip, inspected the bait, and declared that the fish must not be hungry. I suggested that, perhaps, there were no fish in the pool. With a furrowed brow, she said that they must be the famous Air Fish, invisible and difficult to detect. She sighed and announced it was time to go back in hopes of seeing a train along the rail bed across the river.
The afternoon sun warming our backs, we thereupon we cast our sticks into the water, and set off back down the trail. Further adventures awaited us through the woods and across the river. It would not do to be late.