People say it’s healthy and fun to be outdoors.
The last time I went on a dedicated outdoors excursion, was long before I was married. I went because a friend begged me to come, and there happened to be a gorgeous gentleman also attending. NOT because I thought, “oh yeah, hey, let’s go traipsing off into the wilderness as a great way to celebrate and relax.” Let us be clear – the outdoors is not a place to relax or to celebrate. Unless you are celebrating that you are going back to civilisation, or that you didn’t actually get kicked in the head by an angry kangaroo.
But I digress…
It was a picnic, so I chose to wear strappy heeled sandals and a light summer dress – like they do in the movies. I even had fake eyelashes ready for fluttering at Mr Gorgeous. I stepped out of the car and realised heels may not have been a good move but I ploughed ahead, eager to impress with my obvious style and finesse. I ignored the swarm of weird bugs that immediately enveloped me in a humming black cloud. I then ignored the insane itching that followed, choosing instead to focus on looking amazing and pouting my over-glossed lips.
My friend introduced me to Mr Gorgeous, who looked at me with a bit of a smirk. But not for long, because then he pointed out some bird that was apparently endangered and nocturnal. Amazing. As the bird flew overhead, my friend oohed and aahed, and I looked up.
Can I say, NEVER look up at a bird flying overhead? At least not with your mouth open.
So there I was, covered in itching bites and trying not to choke on bird poop, when my friend decided we should go for a walk before the picnic. I followed behind the two of them, gagging softly, and scratching insanely at my limbs and face as we went along.
But I didn’t get very far. Did you know that outdoors is not flat? Instead, it’s rather more like an obstacle course. First, your sandals fill with sand and dirt, and then as you flick them clean, sticks poke in through the toe holes. As you stumble and try to land squarely, your feet instead slide out from under you. In different directions. Then I mistook a large stick for an enormous Eastern Brown snake. I attempted to scramble away but ended up face first in the dirt before my friend told me it was a stick.
Mr Gorgeous was nice enough to help me back into a vertical position. My friend was nice enough to contain her guffaw to a delightful chuckle and give me a sympathetic look that was slightly marred by her holding back the laughter.
Fearful I may end up being choppered out to hospital if I went any further, I begged off the walk. I returned to the picnic area unharmed, but shaken.
A nice chap, out for a Sunday walk, asked if I was okay.
“Um, yes, quite fine thank you,” I said, unable to stop the trembling in my chin.
He stopped and stared at me. “Are you sure? You don’t actually seem fine. Do you need help?”
For a heartbeat, I thought I was going to make it. But then it happened. A full-blown wail that had me grasping onto this stranger for dear life as I wept inconsolably on his hiking jacket.
The poor chap just stood there, letting me sob, and when I had finished, he peeled me off him and smiled sympathetically.
“Not an outdoors person?”
At the shaking of my head, he took off his backpack, pulled out some wipes, and handed them to me with a smile, saying, “Great for getting off all sorts of messes.”
I returned his smile and wiped the remaining bird poop from my face.
Then he handed me a small tub of cream. “For those midgie bites,” he said. “Next time you might want to use a repellant.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
The sound of laughter reached my ears. My friend and her companion had returned, and were walking – rather closely together – toward me.
The man seemed to read the situation. He turned back to the direction I had been travelling and stuck out his arm. “Shall we?”
I took his arm, sighing with relief. He walked me up to the car park and saw me safely to my car. I saw in my window reflection that I was covered in red blotches, and half an eyelash was on my eyebrow. My hair was full of leaves and twigs and the wipe had made the mascara smear across my cheek.
The hiker disappeared never to be seen again.
I do, however, see my friend and Mr Gorgeous quite often. They and their children visit every month or so when they are in need of some comic relief.