Little Sam’s Big Adventure

Little Sam’s Big Adventure

Story by Blair Paterson

To my fellow Editors

The Outdoor Type

Dear Dave and Garry Esquires,

I am humbly writing to advise The Outdoor Type that we may have a fresh new recruit. Yesterday afternoon, while at home contemplating big adventures of my own, my boy Sam, at sixteen months of age, staked his claim to become an Outdoor Type in his own right.

I surmised this when he grabbed my thumb and led me to the front door. Sam had broad horizons in mind, for he was set to circumnavigate the grounds of our unit block. That’s right gentlemen: the grounds of our unit block.

He needed a support crew for the journey – he cannot reach the doorknob as yet – so I willingly obliged. We packed extremely light for our epic adventure – he with his key-ring rattle, me with my door key – and both of us, barefoot, were ready to embark on a wondrous journey.

Once the front door was opened, we got underway with a gnarly descent downstairs to the foyer landing. Things became quite treacherous for a spell as staircase monsters loomed between the balusters and railings. But Sam kept his nerve. He squeezed tight onto my index finger and gallantly strode forward.

Not long into the flatland leg of the trip, my services were called on again to open the unit block’s common entry door. Doors were already opening aplenty in young Sam’s life, figuratively speaking.

Sam walked outside and quickly assessed the situation. He squinted into the sunlight, sniffed the afternoon air and let the wind tease his blond curls. Then he abruptly turned left and bounded due southeast into the Realm of the Stepping Stones. With short legs he was unable to get directly from stone to stone. He showed great stoicism, however, by executing in-betweeny steps on the grass, striding exaggeratedly over nothing in particular with every step.

You will be happy to know a safe passage resulted. The grass piranhas were not feeding, nor were the sedge serpents nibbling.

The wildlife was quiet on a cool, clear autumn afternoon. So Sam sat down beside the compost bin for a spot of botanical study instead. Of interest to him were the pinecones lying willy-nilly in the grass. He gave me three such specimens – to take with us for further study, I assumed.

After a brief detour to investigate the clothesline area, the time was right for some horizontal traversing. Sam grabbed the t-handle of unit 8’s garage door to test for handholds. Once limbered up he poked his tongue out and set it over his bottom lip, opened his brown eyes wide and put on his ‘determination face’ ready for the task. Then he worked his way along the t-handles of all five garage doors at the rear of the block, shaking and rattling as hard as he could while making his way northeast.

Esteemed Outdoor Type colleagues, I have never seen such a display of urban bouldering as I was privy to witnessing yesterday from my brave little boy! I acted as spotter for the first two traverses – he went solo without harnessing up – but when I saw his poise on the t-handles I knew he was a little boy at the top of his game.

Well, Sam’s adventure was not done with yet. Another descent ensued in his mind. He cared little for urban legends associated with stepping on cracks in the pavement as he made his way northwest down the driveway at a great clip. There was, I might add, a precarious increase in the grade of the descent at the end of the driveway, which I diligently made myself available to assist him in negotiating before he careered out onto the street.

At the front corner of the unit block, near our garage, I sensed some indecision in Sam’s demeanor. He seemed torn between continuing northwest onto the street or bearing southwest along the front of the unit block. I intervened and suggested he save ‘the street’ for another adventure. He agreed, so we turned left.

The terrain along the front of the block undulates greatly between concrete driveways and brick pavers. Indeed, several stumbles and trips were had by both father and son. But there in the western sun was where Sam made a most significant discovery.

Sam discovered his own shadow.

First he waved his arms; then he touched the ground in front of him; then in an exuberant show of happiness he jumped up and down on the spot and squealed a happy squeal. And do you know what? His shadow compliantly followed his every move.

In a display of tribal fortitude Sam chose to share his discovery with the world by clanging the lids of the unit block’s letterboxes open and shut. As he repeatedly did so, a metallic din resonated throughout the neighbourhood for all and sundry to hear.

After the cacophony of such a landmark moment comes the quietness. Sam decided to set up base camp in the garbage bay. He chose a hideaway nook around the corner between two bins, behind the gate and under the shelter. That’s where I discovered him some seconds later, contemplating his thoughts with a smile stretching ear to ear.

Downtime is integral during any epic adventure. And the merry times we had in the garbage bay were special to us both. We settled in with a spot of peek-a-boo, then some tickle-tickles, and then we laughed and dreamt about old times. We reflected on the three sides of the unit block already circumnavigated and looked forward to the homeward journey.

Then a jumbo jet flew overhead and startled us both out of our peacefulness. “Time to break camp and press on” Sam motioned as a currawong flew low overhead and a cool breeze blew in. Unbeknownst to us in the full mirth of our adventure, clouds had quickly banked up in the sky like floating anvils.

Sam decided to make haste ahead of the impending bad weather, and in doing so fell on his bum near the lavender bush. He took a few seconds to assess the situation before rising to his feet, dusting off and making a final surge for home. He used the lure of a cuddle from Mum and a warm bath as his motivation. (And so did I for that matter.)

Sam completed the last leg of his circumnavigation of the unit block without event or mishap. He went upstairs and through the front door, screamed in salutation at the cat and smeared his leftover vegemite toast over the lounge. The situation was well and truly normal; in spite of this I sensed Sam had broadened his perception of the world.

And so, dear fellows of the Outdoor Type persuasion, I am happy to report that both adventurer and support crew are recovering well. I am also happy to report as a matter of curiosity that little Sam’s big adventure was completed yesterday from beginning to end in about the same time thereabouts as it will take you to read this letter, depending on how quickly you read of course.

As I write I feel sure more adventures are afoot for Sam. And for his support crew alike.

Signing off,
Yours truly,

About Blair Paterson

Blair grew up and lives in Sydney’s Inner West. He first realised a love of nature and the outdoors during weekends and holidays with his family on the Hawkesbury River. From humble childhood pastimes building billycarts and tree houses to spending large chunks of time in the bush, Blair now embarks on outdoor pursuits whenever and however possible – by foot, kayak, bicycle or other. He has worked in Environmental Management and currently Outdoor Education. Some of his fondest travels to date have been around Australia and through the Indian Himalayas.
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