Adventures in Yonderland

A log of my adventures, both real and imagined.

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Hummingbird

Excuse my absence. Things have been a little insane here. If you’ve ever been a camp counselor for a summer-long, overnight camp, you’ll understand. However, I wanted to share a story that I heard when we were doing chapel a while ago.

Once, long ago in Africa, there was a great forest fire. It was so big that you could see nothing but flames and smoke to either side. All the animals ran as fast as they could to escape it. The birds flew, the elephants stomped and the lions sped through the forest until they came to a great river, which they then crossed. Once all the animals had reached the safety of the river, they cried out. Their home was burning up before them with all the lovely trees and flowers. It was hopeless to try and save their home before such a terrible fire, and so they all mourned and cried, watching the fire eat up everything they had known.

But one bird did not cry. The Hummingbird, smallest of the small with only the thinnest of beaks, flitted to the river and pft, grabbed up water from the river. He quickly darted to the fire and peh! spit it out! He did this again and again until some of the animals began to notice what Hummingbird was doing. “Ha!” they cried, “Look at Hummingbird! The poor creature cannot see that it is hopeless for him to try. He is too small to make any difference at all to that great wall of flame!”

And they called to him, some jeering, and said, “Give it up Hummingbird! There is no good you can do against such a great fire, you are too small to do anything!”

But Hummingbird continued to fly back and forth, back and forth, grabbing up a little slip of water and spitting it back out on the flames. The other animals continued to beg Hummingbird to save his strength, but nothing they said slowed him in the least. Then, suddenly, Ostrich turned to Cheetah and said, “If Hummingbird, the smallest of us all, is so convinced he can put out this fire, then what might we, who are many times his size, be able to do?” Cheetah nodded and the two went down to the river, slurped up some water, and ran to help Hummingbird put out the great fire.

The other animals saw them leave. At first they were confused, but soon Giraffe and Rhino had joined in. Then Elephant, Lion and Hippopotamus. Soon all the animals were working together to put out the fire! All up and down the river, animals were running, carrying water to put out the flames. Before long the last sizzle of dying flames was heard and the great fire was put out.

All because Hummingbird, the smallest of the small, began to do what everyone else thought impossible.

AMERICA

Red, White and Blue flag hands. Posted them on the wall with two of my campers!

Diary, C.M. Pine

June 19, 2012

Last night I heard crying in Elder Hall where we are having the children sleep. One of the children had lost a tooth and we thought we had best play the fairy. Even if their parents are gone, we did not want them to feel that all the magic had been taken out of the world for them. I had just placed some money under the child’s pillow and taken away the tooth when I heard it. Bless them, they were muffled. I assume so that they would not disturb the others. I walked carefully over to them and asked what was wrong.

“I miss my parents,” the child said. I grimaced and knelt down. I did what I could to console them, mostly by asking them what we did today and what was to be done tomorrow. I asked every distracting question  I could think of, and yet at the end of it, they still missed their parents. Of course they did. Who wouldn’t? Kids may have short attentions and memories, but how can we think to take away that ache?

So I did the only other thing I could think of. I said, “Breathe.” And I walked him through the meaning of “Breathe.” When I say “Breathe” I mean not only to breathe in air, but to breathe with your soul. To breathe through with your stomach, with your arms and legs, your muscles and bones. To breathe so your back can stretch with air. To breathe enough to cool your mind with the calm soothing breath of life. And to breathe long and slow.

And so I breathed with him until, magically, he relaxed and fell asleep.

I wonder how many just need someone to sit and breathe with them for a while. Perhaps there is some truth here.

Cliff Diving

So yesterday I went “cliff diving” with the people I work with. We went to this place in St. Paul, Indiana where one of their jumping platforms is ten meters above the water. That’s about twenty feet and a little more than a one second fall. That may not sound like much, but when you leap off a ledge of that distance, it feels like you experience every millisecond. I only jumped that one once. It was duly terrifying.

As for some background info on this place, it’s called St. Paul Cliffs. It’s an old quarry (I think it’s actually three) that’s been filled with water and that has platforms to jump from and zipline. There was even a rope you could swing into the water with (from a little more than ten feet up once you were done swinging). In sum, the place was a lot of fun. Fairly cheap and fairly safe. Although I still hold it’s pretty sketch.

Sketchballs might be a better word for that. Haha, it was nice enough, but it’s kind of a “good luck”-style event. No lifeguards, the staff mostly just check for glass bottles in the car and the waiver signs away your right to…well just about everything.

HOWEVER, this all allowed me to do a backflip off the zipline into the water. Probably the most Beast thing I’ve done in a while. I was one of like twenty people I saw go down on that thing who even tried it. Bam Awesomeness.

Then again, I did slam my face into the water from more than ten feet up.

Diary, C.M. Pine

June 13, 2012

The children here are a wonder. The things they say and do remind me of a way of thinking I have lost with time. It makes me wonder how I must sound to those far wiser than I. Still, it has not been all wonderful. Yesterday three of them went missing. We checked within the walls of the school carefully, but found none of them. A boy tipped us off that they had decided to go hiking in the woods surrounding the school and we instantly became frightened. While the children have lived in the woods their whole lives, and are thus competent woodsmen, we received a recent report that goblins have begun to live not at all far from us.

A small party was sent out to search for them, mostly soldiers. I, and many of the other students who would gladly have gone searching for them, were told to stay and take care of the others. It was agonizing, but we could do nothing. Goblins do not have a kind reputation in dealing with foreigners of any kind. I shudder to think what would happen to the children if they got into their hands.

Luckily for all of us, there were a few trackers in the woods looking for signs of the Goblins. They stumbled across the group of children and quickly brought them back to us. Garrel gave them all a sound reprimanding before sending them to the kitchens for some food. I do not think they know what they have done, and yet I know none of them will attempt a similar venture. Perhaps it is better that they do not. It will help them to sleep better not knowing the horrors that might have awaited them.

Diary, C.M. Pine

Yet another adventure has swung my way and despite the fact that I remain here on “safe” ground. Apparently a great river beast attacked the next town over to the school and now we have been flooded with refugees. Our teachers seem worried over the recent events as these sinister turns seem to occur with more frequency. However, all are agreed on one thing if nothing else: the children must be taken care of. Especially those of the injured.

So, the task of playing with the kids and distracting them from the loss of their homes has fallen to me and a few other of the more enthusiastic students. It is hard work, but shiningly fun. The children are lights barely shadowed by life and are a joy to see. Even in the older group, their inner child-like excitement is only a step past them and might still be uncovered with the right game.

Garrel, one of the older professors here, thought it best if we teach them something about the world as well. Perhaps this is the hardest of all, as even we are still searching after the truth of things. But we try anyway with what we do know and I am surprised pleasantly at how much I really do know.

Today the theme was trust. I turned to one of the children and asked, “Do you trust me?” And he said easily, without hesitation or reservation, “Yes, of course I trust you Cedric.” It surprised me. I have known this child but two days, and he would, I believe, trust me with his life. I think there is hope in the world. I am now more sure than ever of my choice to adventure. But the time is far from come yet. And now, there are children to attend to.

Diary, C.M. Pine

June 8, 2012

Yesterday was certainly an adventure, though not nearly as active as our encounter with the spiders on the rock wall. No, this was an adventure of the mind and heart. I took a journey to the Hermit’s cave. I thought maybe it was time after saving Ellen from the spiders. It is certainly time I had some clarity. You see, I carry with me some ache I never knew existed before and I fear that I shall not be able to rid myself of it. How can I travel the world, dangerous as it is, with a chest ache? Who knows what ailment that might be. So with this thinking, I set out to find the Hermit.

The Hermit lives in a small cave on the side of Sheer Mountain. The climb and hike were challenging, but after taking the class on rock-climbing, I was well prepared. The cave was dark and of a strange gray-blue stone that didn’t see anywhere else in the area. I entered, flashlight in hand and proceeded down the cave.

I did not have far to go, as it turned out. After only a few dozen yards, I came to a large cavern within which sat the hermit. Gold carvings and statues surrounded the room. It was like one of King Soloman’s treasure rooms, filled with precious things beyond what I had cared to imagine before. And yet, despite all the finery around him, the Hermit sat by himself on a small island of bare rock.

I approached him and bowed, not sure what else to do. He nodded to me.

“Why are you surrounded by all this rich stuff?” I said.

“Young adventurer, you are allowed only a single question. Which would you like the answer to?”

I shut up and nodded. I asked him what I should do. What the ache was and how to fix it.

“Your friends are far away, and you ask me what you should do, Cedric?”

“Yes.”

“Open your eyes. See your world. Live. And tell them you love them.”

I thanked him. Bowed, and left. It seems simple. And yet, somehow I think the answer to my first question would have been easier.

Kindness & Disney

Today I went to the Magic Kingdom at Disney. May I first say, it was awesome. The Peter Pan ride, for kids though it may (or may not) be, was awesome. There really is something truly special about being on something so simple and timeless. Just the story has been made from a play to a novel to many other adaptions.

ANYWAY, what I really wanted to say was an experience I had in the first twenty minutes of being in the park. I was with my family and we were debating about what to do about Space Mountain and this man came up. He got my attention (which I didn’t initally give in case he wasn’t talking to me. ‘Cause we all know that’s awkward). He asked me how many I had in my party, I said four and he said “here, these are fast-passes for this ride. We just rode it.” And so we took them, and rode the ride. And I just stopped. I mean, I love people. Maybe I’m in the minority of people, I don’t know. But I love people and (don’t want to be cliché but there’s not much I can do about it) that…light inside of them. Some people you can just see it. Most people you have to dig and chip and then sometimes you get just the briefest glimpse of it. But it’s always there.

ANYWAY (again), it was just interesting. And we were at Disney too. You know, the one thing that has always fascinated me about Disney is their innovation. That emphasis on doing what has never been done, what cannot be done and what was never thought of. Not just to push the label, or think outside the box, but to make an entirely new box or flip the box inside-out.

Wow. That was unrelated. Maybe…

Orlando

So I’m visiting Orlando, Florida for what I’m going to consider the second time, but what is really the third. I say this ’cause visits one and two are essentially the same to my mind and I was young enough (at least the first time) that this is acceptable. ANYWAY, it was awesome. I have to say that I’m glad we went as practical adults.

Harry Potter World. Awesome. Just amazing. It’s small, crowded and there isn’t too much there to do, but it really is just magical. I think it has a lot to do with how authentic it all looks. I mean, it’s like you aren’t just in a theme park in Florida, but you’re connected to that wonderful imaginary world. K. Off the soap-box. But really, if you haven’t gone (and you’ve seen the movies/read the books), then you should go. Even just for that. Totally worth it. Okay maybe. Souveniers were SUPER expensive. The official sweaters were like $80.

Cool things: We went on the Forbidden Journey ride twice because they had some tech difficulties half-way through the first time. I made it through alright the first time, but it got to me on round two and I covered my eyes for the rest of it. Yes, I am twenty years old. Yes, I can’t handle a ride that children go on too. I accepted that a LONG time ago. I could go more in-depth, but I’d probably bore most people with that.

Second cool thing was…MY BRO GOT PICKED TO GET A WAND FROM OLIVANDER!!! Coolest moment ever. He just walks down the stairs and right to him. SO COOL. Of course that wand has now been purchased. I went with McGonagle’s myself. It’s tight.

Oh and this might be a good time to inform you all that I LOVE dragons. And dinosaurs, I’m remembering. But especially dragons. God I love discovering my childhood again.

Yes, I am aware it’s not really that far off still. STILL COUNTS!! 😉

From the Diary of C.M. Pine

1 June, 2012

My name is Cedric M. Pine. I am an adventurer, or at least, I hope to be one. You see, I have been here at home, studying and working for my father and mother to help them and to learn the skills of an adventurer (No one was ever born with the ability to fly a plane that I ever heard of!). In any case, adventure can find even the most studious. Perhaps it is because of my study. I hadn’t considered that. Anyway, I don’t think it matters.

Today was my first day of cliff training. This included, of course, climbing and proper climbing technique, as well as repels, rescues and assists. My teacher, Mr. Aura, had taken us all through the basics of how to perform each of these tasks when we heard a cry. Looking around, we saw Ellen rushing towards us on the cliff. Behind her came half-a-dozen giant spiders. Where they came from, I can only guess, but we immediately saw our peril. Mr. Aura demanded that all of us scale down the cliff as quickly as possible and began repelling himself. Most of the other students began with little hesitation, but I stopped. To repel would, of course, leave Ellen beyond help and likely at the mercy of the giant spiders.

Being essentially on top of the cliff anyway, I decided to gain the solid ground of the top and help Ellen if I could. The spiders were running quickly towards her, but their gain on her was slow and she had a great enough lead that I though perhaps I could step in to save her. I yelled at her to come to me and she obeyed with the wild eyes of the desperate and fear-filled. In hardly a moment, she was to me. I didn’t bother to stop her momentum, but allowed her sprint to fling the two of us off the side of the cliff face.

We fell for only a moment and I managed to hang onto her and stop the force of our impact against the rock before it came to meet us. However, being spiders, I knew we had very little of free time to celebrate. I sent us down the ropes at such  dangerous speed that I feared either my hands would burn up or we should simply hit bottom at a free-fall. Just before the ground, I slammed down on the brake rope and, God be praised, the ropes held. From there we were quickly helped. The spiders, half-way down the cliff, gave up the fight in the face of so large a group and returned to their cursed abode, wherever that may be.

We are home and safe now, and they call me a hero. But I did only what I thought right. A hero and hardly the adventures begun. What will the future hold for me?

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