When you are a family of eight – and six of them happen to be under the age of eight – a vacation becomes less “where will we go this year?” and more “so honey, define vacation”.
When our youngest was a year old, the definition became family camp on Quadra Island, which was definitely fun for us all and our home away from home for many years. It was however a 17 hour drive from our home, so we usually tried to make the trip in two days. This particular year Greg flew home to get back to work, but it was the summer and the kids weren’t ready to end the vacation. My brave, dear friend Susan unexpectedly offered us her vacant home in British Columbia’s lovely Okanagan and my niece, Denise very kindly agreed to travel with the gang, so it was decided that we’d pause in Vernon on our way home. Incredibly, the only stipulation of our free residency
was that we did not let the cat out.cartoon_cats_cliparts_free_20121124_1965082473
One cannot vacation in the Okanagan without visiting their lakes, so one very hot day we packed up the kids and went to the wonderfully clear and warm Kalamalka Lake for a picnic and a swim. After spreading out numerous towels, blankets, sand digging tools, life jackets, inflatable toys, food and beverages, we noticed that the baby was in dire need of a diaper change. Unfortunately, I had left the diaper bag behind. She was quite happy to be bare and carefree, but we thought it prudent to fetch something, just in case. This was, after all, a public beach. Telling a noticeably nervous niece that I would be back in a flash, I jumped in our very hot old blue ford van and drove back to our residence.
I opened the door and let myself in very carefully, in case the cat should be lurking nearby, ready to bolt. Kicking off my sandals, I headed for the basement, where the diaper bag was. The power was out for some reason, and I had to grope around in the dark. Unfortunately, the cat was hiding down there, and as I cautiously felt my way around a corner, I trod upon it. We both jumped and screeched. I ran into a wall, the kitty ran upstairs. Following to be sure it was not terminally injured, I cornered it in a second floor bedroom. As I lunged to grab it, we both discovered that the window where it was cowering was open. It slipped through.
With only one thought in mind, and that was the single stipulation regarding our free residency in this home, I sized up the window and decided if pussy jumped out, there must be something to jump on. I crawled through, hot on its trail. And its trail was indeed very hot.
The window gave way to the flat tar and sand roofed carport which, when trod upon bare-footed, was agony. At least for me. The cat did not seem to mind at all, for it was sitting at the edge of the roof, calmly cleaning its coat. Cursing audibly, I began hopping toward it, but paused mid–step when the neighbor next door came out and walked toward her car. Thinking that a stranger standing upon the neighbor’s roof beside an open window might look a bit suspicious, I remained motionless, save for the lifting and shifting of my feet, which along with the rest of my body, were beginning to turn a bright pink. Flamingo-like, I waited up there, one eye on the cat, one eye on the woman, willing her not to look up; willing her even more vehemently to get in her car and leave.
After fussing endlessly with her keys, the woman finally climbed in her car. As she did so, the cat stretched languidly, then to my horror, leaped over the edge of the roof. When the car was gone, I hobbled to the carport edge, and looked over. The cat, it appeared, had not suicided itself, but had hopped down upon the roof of my Ford, and thence to the ground below. Thinking that anywhere was better than the burning tar, I too lowered myself to the
van’s roof only to discover two things: hot metal is hotter than hot tar, and infinitely more flexible than a roof top. The ground was not more flexible, but was definitely cooler, which compensated for the thud that was felt throughout my body upon contact. I found the cat cowering behind a very prickly rosebush, and after tangling my hair and shirt on the bush, I was finally able to nab it. Feline firmly tucked under my arm, I marched to the front door, only to find that I had inadvertently locked it behind me when I had first entered.
Retracing my steps was a very painful process, particularly climbing up on the van roof with a very nervous feline in my arms. The cat hissed at me and – such was my mood – I hissed right back. This seemed to subdue it somewhat, at least until I was able to stuff it back in the window. It bolted out of sight, and I never did see it again for the duration of our stay.
The children, and particularly their cousin were very happy to see me when I returned to the beach. The latter lifted a wailing baby and advised me that she thought the wee one was possibly not feeling well. This the baby confirmed with one word: “gick!”
And gick she did, all over my tattered shirt.
The children all cried when we told them that it was time to leave. After picking up various towels, blankets, sand digging tools, life jackets, inflatable toys, food and beverages – and the diaper bag – we climbed into our very hot van. They then cried even harder because the smell of “gick” on their mom’s shirt was more than anyone could bear.
We left early the next day. The kids weren’t that keen on returning to dull old summer on the farm, but dull can be pretty attractive when it comes to a vacation with the pack.

2 responses to “Gick

  1. What a story! And I can see it so vividly – immensely funny in the re-telling, but how grueling and painful your experience in those hours. You are welcome to open access to my house anytime for all your live-long days, unconditionally. Cat be damned.

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