Did you ever notice that when things get bad, they seem to get worse?
I began my annual week-long horseback trek on Mother’s Day. It is a nineteen-year tradition for me. A group of fifty ladies, their horses, their wisdom and their humor set out for six days, camping and riding the California mountains.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years: the trip in usually sets the tone for the rest of the week.
This year? I am driving down a back-country road on my way to camp with my friend, the physician, who has happily accepted my invitation to join the ride. Around the bend we sight a downed biker, head cradled in his wife’s lap: He has fallen and he’s out cold. I pull over knowing my friend will want to offer her assistance. The EMT’S and my doctor friend sends the victim to the ER…incident over, right?
The next day all seems well—until my friend closes her fingers in a car door. The surgeon’s calender is suddenly curtailed. She takes four Advil and crawls into a cold sleeping bag. The next day her heavily insured hand is the size of Minnesota, but she’s game and we’re off on the trail again until we discover one of the campers is on fire (no, not a person, a vehicle).
A few of the younger, more agile, members of our group leap to the aid of the motor-home. The grass is long and dry and if a fire gets going the only thing to do will be to let the horses loose and head for the main road. The fire department finally arrive. This is the best part as normally no men or dogs are allowed in camp (notice the correlation), and we are now surrounded by extremely able an handsome bodies (WHAT is it about firemen?)
The next day one of our members falls ill and Dr. Friend sends her second patient to the ER. Are we having fun yet? I ask her as she puts fresh ice on her broken fingers as the temperature has decided to take a turn and the heat of the day is above ninety-eight degrees.
The day before the ride is over and I am rethinking the wisdom of venturing out on the “long” ride offered that day. Six hours in the saddle seems to ask for trouble. I chose the short ride, a mere three hours. When I return, one of my camp-mates has packed up and left: her mother is dying.
When things get bad, they just get worse. Last day and a hapless rattle-snake has wandered into camp. Rattlers are territorial and, though they may be removed and re-placed, they tend to return. Long grass, hot venomous snakes and people are never a good combination. I now have his rattle to prove it.
The day we leave camp, it is one-hundred-three degrees. Dr. Friend’s finger is now infected and she will be sending herself to the ER upon returning to Seattle. I tell her that if I see a biker lying by the side of the road I will insist she close her eyes.