By our second full day in Edinburgh, we were beginning to adjust a little too well to apartment life. Staying in a tent had allowed us to be outdoors from the moment we threw on some clothes, and our mornings had snapped with fresh air and the tang of adventure. In an apartment, however, we just couldn’t seem to get out the door. Between fixing breakfast, finishing cartoons, coordinating showers, deciding on clothes, packing snacks, making the beds, checking e-mail, and padding from one end of the building to the other thirty-five times trying to find the right set of keys, we hardly managed to leave before naptime, which was itself pretty well confined to the indoors due to a lack of comfortable logs on the city sidewalks. We were in desperate need of a good old-fashioned hike. Fortunately, Holyrood Hill stood just outside our back door.
Tuning out (ha) your mother’s regrettable rendition of “Cliiimb eeeeevery mountaaaaiin!”
You, Natalie, were a little less than enthusiastic about the climb, by which I mean you considered it cruel and unusual punishment. Every few minutes, you requested a break—or rather, every few minutes, we granted your unceasing requests for a break—and you amused passing hikers by moaning “Ugh, what a tired day!” and “This is the worst day EVER!” I do see your point… After all, strolling hand-in-hand with one’s loving family over lush green grass sloping gently upward toward a breathtaking summit is pretty much the most horrible experience one can have.
However, as much as the rest of us admired your commitment to misery, we did not succumb to it. The path really was lovely, flanked by flowering meadows and overlooking mysterious ruins. Plus, I’m pretty sure it was handicap accessible. Thespian naps notwithstanding, we reached the top fairly easily and found ourselves looking down from Arthur’s Seat across all of Edinburgh, the surrounding regions, and the Firth of Forth (say that 10 times quickly!). We had a bird’s eye view of abbeys and alleyways, towers and tollbooths, castles and cathedrals and distant crags. What can I say? It drove me to alliteration. The boisterous wind and staggering view took our breath away for a few moments, and then you, Natalie, announced jubilantly, “I am having the GREATEST DAY!” Your dad and I responded with synchronized facepalms.
Trying to forget your mother’s regrettable rendition of “Weeeeee are the chaaaampions!”
The trip downhill was much more enjoyable, though you, Sophie, set a truly terrifying pace. In your opinion, balance and caution are optional as long as someone is holding your hand; why not try a freefall or two? Thank goodness for your strong daddy and tender mercies (in no particular order). I often vacillate between worry that we don’t allow you girls enough freedom and anxiety bordering on full neurosis-packed panic that we allow you girls too much freedom and that you will be killed in the course of fun. I hope the vacillation means that we’ve found a good niche between paranoia and recklessness. Besides, I can’t do much more than pray that your guardian angels are on duty… and make sure you have a strong hand to hold when you go flying down an old Scottish volcano.