Category Archives: nature

A Nightmare in Elm Trees

It was a cloudless blue day in late summer. The kind of blue that made the heart ache with possibility. The kind of day made for adventures. 

And it was in that spirit of happy potentiality that the little family began packing up their car for a weekend away in the woods. Backpacks full of toys, a small suitcase filled with hoodies and bug spray, a cooler loaded with beer and marshmallows. The father grunting as he loaded the trunk, the children squealing and chasing each other, the mother watching fondly but also desperately trying to remember what she forgot because it was definitely something. 

How could they possibly know under that perfect sky that they were walking into a horror story? (Other than the fact it’s the premise for an entire genre of horror stories?).

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The drive passed quickly and uneventfully. The cabin was small and cozy. They only had one neighbor in this isolated part of the New Hampshire woods. A lone man wearing flannel staying at the other cabin across a copse of trees. The mother joked that he looked like Ted Bundy. The father laughed. Because it’s all fun and games until someone gets murdered. 

For now, it was peaceful. Quiet. Which is probably why the mother was able to hear it. Barely perceptible, but definitely there. She had just sat down and opened her book when a low moan rose up out of the woods. She looked around but when she didn’t see anything, decided to ignore it, managing to read three whole sentences before hearing it again. Only it was a little louder this time. 

“…oooooooommmmmm….”

“Hello?” she practically whispered. “Is…is someone there?”

The woods answered back with the light rustling of leaves in the wind. After a few more moments, she turned her attention back to her book. Finding time to read was a luxury and she refused to waste it. But just when she had finally relaxed, releasing the tension in her shoulders that had been there since the birth of her oldest, there was that sound again. Louder. Much louder. An unearthly wail. 

“MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!” 

No. No, it can’t be, she thought. But it was. Suddenly, like a pop-up book from hell, her two children appeared on either side of her, loudly complaining that they were already bored. 

They had only arrived 20 minutes ago. 

The mother screamed. 

Meanwhile, the father was in the cabin unpacking. Although beautiful late afternoon sunlight filtered in through the windows, the man couldn’t shake the black, foreboding feeling that something wasn’t right. He checked and double-checked all the bags. Everything seemed in order. When suddenly…

“Honey!” he screamed in terror. “We forgot the graham crackers!” 

There are some who say the inhuman wails of the children upon learning this news could be heard as far away as Vermont. 

After that, it was as though the children were possessed. “S’MORES!” they screeched while clawing, grabbing, tearing at their parents with small but freakishly strong hands. “S’MORES!”

Somehow the father managed to escape, fleeing in dread to the car. Twenty minutes later, he was running blindly through the streets of the only nearby town.

“Help! Someone help! I need graham crackers!” His words echoed off the empty buildings. “PLEASE! I left my wife alone with the kids! I don’t know how long she can hold out!”

By the time he returned, a box of horrifyingly overpriced crackers in hand, he found the children dancing around the fire, having gone completely feral in his absence, dirt smudged on their faces like so much war paint. The mother lay in the fetal position to one side, quietly whispering over and over again “he’ll be back soon, he’ll be back soon, he’ll be back soon…” 

Quickly, the father got to work, roasting marshmallows but trying in his panic not to burn them. May the good Lord have mercy on his soul if he burned them. With shaking hands, he assembled the dark snacks that had turned his children into unrecognizable fiends. But just as quickly as he made them, the children tore into them like a pack of wolves, quickly disemboweling the father’s careful work, discarding the crackers and marshmallows over their shoulders and only eating the chocolate. 

“MORE.” they bellowed. 

The parents quietly wept. 

A few hours later, determined to salvage this family trip, the parents announced in perky but trembling voices, “let’s go for a walk in the woods!” To their surprise, the children agreed, chocolate still ominously smeared across their faces. And for a few glorious minutes, it appeared all might be ok. The children happily scampered ahead, collecting acorns and pine cones. They even let out a few genuine laughs of delight. 

But then the couple made the fatal mistake of enjoying themselves, triggering in the offspring all their most evil and depraved impulses. Because while the children typically loved nature, could spend hours staring at a dead leaf while in the city, they could not stand that very same nature when their parents paid $100 for a cabin completely surrounded by it. 

“This is dumb. Can we go home?”

“My feet hurt. Will you carry me?”

“I SAW A BUG!”

“Can we get an Uber?”

“I hate trees.”

“Did you bring any s’mores? I WANT A S’MORE!”

The parents didn’t die that day. But there are some who say they can still see the ghosts of their expectations haunting the woods to this very day.

On the plus side, the family never did get murdered by their neighbor Ted Bundy. Likely because the children scared him away. Even serial killers have their limits. 

A time to laugh, a time to weep (but mostly weeping)

They say to every thing there is a season. Which is why I suspect we have winter. Misery, depression and blanket fort binge-drinking need a season too.

But, and I think I speak for most of us when I say this, it is high time to turn, turn, turn onto a new season. Before I burn, burn, burn Mother Nature TO THE GROUND.

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It’s the same thing every year. Winter overstays its welcome until I get so frustrated that I physically start trying to punch the arctic wind as it hits me in the face. Thus making ME look like the crazy one. But I’m not crazy. Winter is crazy. I’m not crazy. HahAhaAhhaA! It’s winter’s fault I’m karate chopping the air and scaring small children who pass by.

I JUST WANT TO FEEL MY FINGERTIPS AGAIN.

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And that’s when it happened. Right when I was on the brink (or perhaps just a little past it), it came. Did you guys smell it? Taste it? In the air? As soon as I opened my eyes that morning, I knew. Everything was the same and yet, subtly different. It wasn’t even that much warmer. Ten degrees, tops. But it was a DIFFERENT kind of warm. The kind of warmth that makes you remember that you used to be more than just a bag of freezing flesh stuffed into flannel pajamas and wrapped in a Snuggie burrito.

The first spring-like day had finally arrived. The first day where the sun wasn’t just a distant ornament hanging in the sky, but an actual star producing light and heat. The first day where everyone poured out of their houses, blinking in bewilderment at their neighbors, like “Hey, I vaguely remember you!” The first day of the rest of our lives because we were all, at long last, free from the icy grip of that monster, Father Winter.

And yes, I hear you. Okay? I hear you. “Um, well, you know, technically spring doesn’t start until the equinox on Mar…”

SHUT UP. Let me have this. I have been walking my kids to school through a winter wasteland for four and a half months. I don’t remember what it’s like to not have thermal leggings on underneath my regular mom leggings. I need to believe winter is over.

NEED.  

“Sure, but I mean, don’t get your hopes up. It’ll definitely snow at least one more time.”

OH, WHAT’S THAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF FLOWERS SPROUTING AND BIRDS CHIRPING. AND NOT THAT SAD WINTER CHIRPING EITHER. HAPPY FREAKING WARM SPRING CHIRPING.

“But you realize that spring is an extremely volatile season, right? We are in for months of sleet and mud and generally unpleasantness.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening again. Too busy admiring these brand new flip-flops I just bought.

“The forecast for tomorrow is calling for hail and a high of 43.”

Oh, burn in hell.

At least it’s warm there.

Shoot, I might join you.

Look, you can throw facts and forecasts and freezing rain down on my delusional parade all you want. But I’m staying firm in my belief that winter is now over. I got a taste of what life used to be like a million years ago where a quick trip somewhere didn’t involve 20 minutes of shoving squirmy toddler limbs into elaborate outerwear. And it tasted delicious.

It tasted like hope.

Hope of a new world. A brighter, greener world. A world where my pale face turns slightly less pale and people stop asking me if I’m sick.

And I am eating it up until I vomit.

Then going back for seconds.

I’m one of them

I don’t know who she is. I don’t know her name or what she looks like. All I know is that she ruined everything. 

She just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. Just had to declare it from every virtual rooftop she had downloaded on her phone. And then all the others joined in. And now, they are the laughingstock of the Internet. 

It didn’t have to be this way. There was no need to go public with how basic they were. No one had to know how they bought a pumpkin spice latte when it was still 85 degrees. No one had to be privy to their almost slavish devotion to leggings paired with boots. Let alone their adoration for faux fur-lined vests. 

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Which is why if I ever find out who the first woman was to openly declare how much she loves fall, I’m going to strangle her with my infinity scarf. 

Why do I care so much, you ask? Because…(*whispers*) I’m one of them. 

And now, thanks to one million Instagram accounts overloaded with photos of ladies holding up a red leaf to their eye while they coyly smile at the camera (#snuggleweather), the world knows we all exist. And just how ridiculous we are. 

And they hate us. 

Oh sure, you could argue (and you would, in fact, be correct in arguing this) that I’m part of the problem. That just because I try to keep my basic-ness a secret doesn’t make me any better than the rest. But I didn’t ask to be this way.

Do you think this Aprill spelled with two L’s wants to be lumped in with all the Britanni’s spelled with an “i” and Megyn’s spelled with a “y”? That I want to wear vintage T-shirts featuring movies I’ve never seen or bands I’ve never listened to underneath my cozy knee-length cardigan (a knee-length cardigan that is just one of the 67 in my collection)? 

Do you think I want to race to my closet as soon as September 1st arrives and pull out my favorite furry slippers while wrapping both of my hands around a mug of green tea and sighing contentedly while I look out a window? Or that I want to curl up with a good book and read all day as soon as the temperature drops below 70 (my moleskin notebook and fancy pen placed just so beside me)? That I want to waste time scouring Pinterest for decorating ideas before realizing I suck at decorating and end up just shoving some sunflowers into a pumpkin? 

Do you think I want to be the person who only eats gourd-flavored baked goods for three months straight? Or that I want to be the person who snort lines of cinnamon like it’s cocaine while chugging apple cider martinis?

No. I don’t. I don’t want to be a part of this cliche. But here I am, frolicking in the pumpkin patch with the rest of my basic brethren. 

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I wasn’t raised this way. I was raised in a home where hoodies were merely something you threw on when it got cold. Where coffee was something you drank black. Where fall was simply just another season. My mom didn’t own Ugg boots or oversized, non-prescription, black frame glasses. No one in my family drank beer that was any flavor other than beer. The only candles that burned inside our house were birthday candles.

As a young girl growing up in the ‘90’s, wearing my torn flannel shirt and purple lipstick with my Nirvana CD blasting from my gigantic boombox, I never dreamed that I’d turn into that grown woman who lights 43 pumpkin-scented candles and asks her husband to cuddle on the couch in our Halloween jammies while we watch a “Gilmore Girls” marathon. In fact, I’m pretty sure that young girl would kick my ass with her Doc Marten boots if she knew what I became. 

But I can’t help myself. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture. If I was brainwashed by the powerful pumpkin farmer lobby in Washington or if Eve herself made an apple-scented candle with the forbidden fruit and then knitted a cozy yet stylish hat out of fig leaves. All I know is that, as much as I try to fight it, I love all this fall crap. And now, courtesy of Hayleigh and Bayleigh and Jyssycah, I am the butt of several thousand Internet jokes.

So, thanks a lot, ladies. You just couldn’t keep quiet, could you? Couldn’t just let us all continue to worship this time of year secretly in the privacy of our own homes. Had to blast it out there, with no thought of all the shrapnel that would rain down on the rest of us.  

I swear, I’d throw this venti Salted Caramel Mocha latte in all your faces…

…if only it didn’t taste so good.

…(Sip)…