Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Miles & 1 Rice Ball

Today was a holiday (Marine Day) in Japan which might account for the all day hike the scout troop here in Kamakura planned. It would also account for the many fathers on the hike since they were all off from work, except for my husband- he works an American schedule. It was my children's introduction to scouting, their first time to meet and participate with scouts. I had been thinking to have them join for some time, but we had to put it off for various reasons. My friend mentioned an upcoming event for new scouts so though I knew little of what to expect, I committed to attending. I was interested because in Japan both girls and boys are in the Scouts- both wear the blue boy scout uniform familiar to Americans. Yesterday, I got this email:
What you need to take tomorrow are much water to drink and ONIGIRIs to eat lunch.Our scout have the rule of taking only UME-ONIGIRI or ONIGIRI to have nothing inside,that is you must not take the other foods.
Beaver scout will hike about 5miles tomorrow.

Yeesih, five miles of hiking the first time out for a group of six and seven year olds with one rice ball! My husband read the message later and thought it was great. I grumped he thought it was great because he wouldn't be the one dragging the Moose around for five miles. The Moose could medal in complaining if there was an event for it in the olympics.

This morning I frantically got all of the backpacks together, filled thermoses and camelbacks, grabbed sunscreen, bug bite medicine, sweat towels, sunglasses, and made four plain onigiri- I made an extra one for the trip home, in case. We had to be at my friend's house early. The kids were up, unusually both of them. The day before they had started playing a computer game, Mini Ninjas, they really like but had not played in months. They had such fun that they had asked last night if they could get up in the morning and play again. Surprisingly, they were up by six to play. By eight we were at the bus station and by nine we were on the mountain hiking where we remained until late afternoon. The Moose found sticks galore and other boys to goof around with. He was mostly in the rear of the pack- he is always stopping and looking at stuff, but he chatted and sang and seemed to be happy. He didn't complain about his one rice ball either. I did notice that the other children generally had nori seaweed wrappers and sesame seeds in their onigiri rice balls, but the kids had no additional snacks hidden away. The group leader, at a mid-morning bathroom break, passed out one piece each of a hard candy flavored with ume- think sour plum. Neither of my kids ate it.

Hiking in the hills did at least mean shade along with an occasional breeze, but it was a sweaty affair. We were dripping wet: the kids, the dads, the one other mom, and me. No one really spoke much English, but everyone was nice and shared a word or two. I am used to the lack of chitchat by now. In my own way I am somewhat like the Moose when he is going to school- I get lost in my own thoughts and that is good enough. Truly, on the hike though, I had few to no thoughts. If I thought too much about resting or sweating, I might have wanted to stop so I avoided the thought. I did like it as it was good to be outside, but it was long.

A friend from the Navy base was a boy scout leader with the American kids. I distinctly remember him saying he took his mixer on a camping trip so he could make homemade pasta for his troop. Someday, I am going to do things the easy way, but for now it seems I am going to do them the Japanese way and keep things slightly difficult for myself. Of no surprise, once we departed company with the other children, the Moose immediately launched into "woe is me; I'm tired; I'm hungry" mode. I managed to get him to Mister Donut at 4:00 p.m. where he piped down long enough to eat two donuts and drink a cup of milk.

I think I am allergic to my own sweat. Once we stopped moving at day's end, and I got cold in the shop, I began to itch. Or maybe I am allergic to hiking? I was really hoping my husband would do more of the scouting thing with the kids. Well, if I can get them to bed, they should sleep great tonight.