My baby brother turns 30 today.
I turn 35 in December.
But, I remember when we were kids. I remember the day that we walked to the Cravens house with our dog, Sugar, and decided that rather than take the trail to Point Park, that we would save time and scramble straight up the side of the mountain. Climbing and sliding uphill through a carpet of dead leaves, I watched with a shudder as a snake zoomed downhill right next to me. We reached the top and walked across the ridge and then up the stairs to the park. As we stood there on that huge rock atop a mountain, looking out at the view, Sugar hopped up on a rock wall and must have gotten confused because she jumped off it. I grabbed her hind legs and pulled her back in what I remember as being mid air. I was terrified, relieved, and possibly a bit proud of my reflex time. We loved that dog. Many years later, I stroked her fur while telling her she was a good girl as the vet put her to sleep.
We climbed back down to a trail that circled around the top of that section of the mountain. Our plan was to hike around to the Incline tracks and then climb back down the mountain on them. Our house was near the gift shop that marked the Incline’s halfway point and we planned to hop off the tracks there. As we made our way around the mountain, we spotted every kid’s wildest dream at that age (we must have been something like 6 and 11 years old at the time. I am totally guessing.) Sitting all alone in the middle of the deserted and largely unused trail was a little black puppy. We’d hit the jackpot. I picked her up and we made our way down the Incline tracks carrying our precious cargo while making plans for how we would keep her a secret from our parents so that we could keep her. We assumed that if we asked, the answer would be no. I don’t remember much about the rest of the hike home, except that we passed another (very big in my memory) snake on our way. Once we reached our house we snuck “Blackie” into an unused basement room. Our plan was that she could live in that room and we would sneak food and water to her. I don’t recall how long she was there before my dad discovered her. Less than a day I am guessing. I think she carried on loudly as a lonely puppy typically does. I am also guessing that there was a lot of suspicious coming and going from that otherwise unused room. I am sure we got a stern talking to for being sneaky, but we did get to keep our puppy.
I can’t think of what to write now. These past couple of years have held so much change and it just keeps coming. I’m not a kid anymore and you’re not a baby. Happy Birthday, Daniel. I love you, and boy do I miss you.