There are a couple of really good hills in Forest Park. My personal favorite is Art Hill. Some days it feels like I’m climbing straight up, but once I’m at the top, the view is incredible, and the run back down the other side is easy and exhilarating. There’s the incline along the western edge of the park that doesn’t seem all that steep until you start it. It stretches on for block after block after block, the kind of hill you feel later, in your sleep. There’s a nice hill by the zoo, although they smoothed it out quite a bit during the big park makeover. When I first lived in this city, I lived in an apartment just across the highway from that hill, and I walked it most days. I walked it with E in a jogging stroller, but I rarely run it anymore. I prefer the winding, shady paths to the straight shots next to the highway.
There’s another hill that rounds a bend up behind the planetarium. You pass the dinosaurs and think that you are almost at the top, but then the path curves and your ascent continues. It tapers off a bit, but still it climbs, past the mounted police post and stables, past the ball fields and the driving range, past the maintenance sheds and around the bend to the Jewel Box. That hill down from the Jewel Box is a special kind of treat, the kind that you have to earn, the kind that seemed close at hand when you started upwards by the pond in front of the hospital, but ended up being so far away that the thought of throwing in the towel crossed your mind more than once along the way.
I know Wednesday is often referred to as hump day, but Monday was the top of the hill for me. I took test number four that afternoon, and I just have three more to go. I thought it would feel monumental, like I’d reached the highest point of the park with a smooth stretch of sloping concrete in front of me. Instead I feel winded and hot and cranky, like I’d rather just sit down in the middle of the road and give up. Everything I’m involved in at the moment is requiring 110% effort and twice that in time, and I just can’t possibly squeeze out any more minutes in the day. I’m just so ready to be done. I’m just done.
Last night we all slid down the hill a little more. It was a rough night, and this morning everyone was tired and difficult to rouse. I snuggled F a little longer, and then encouraged her to help me make her bed. She jumped into the middle of the mattress just as I was pulling up the sheet and she giggled “Just make me up with the bed! Then you’ll find me tonight, a big lump under the covers, and you’ll say ‘What a lump in this bed!’ And I’ll laugh, because I’ll really be a lump in the bed. I’ll be a plump lump in the bed!”
This cracked her up to no end, and I laughed out loud too. “A plump lump! Those are my favorite kinds of lumps to find in the bed!” And then I urged her giggling body out of the bed. She was having none of that, and she warned me sternly.
“You really should leave me be, or you’ll find a plump lump of a grump when you return!”
We laughed til we cried, and we splashed puddles all the way to school, coming up with at least fifty-four-hundred-and-eighty-nine-thirty-million words that rhyme with lump.
I won’t get home tonight until everyone’s fast asleep. I can’t wait to kiss a few lumps in the bed and be one step closer to the bottom of this long, steep hill.