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Listening to the Inner Grouch

Jun 03, 2011

It is a strange thing intuition. I get a feeling in my body and my mind and spirit are polarized towards a certain obsession. My spidey senses tingling, butterflies in my belly, my whole being is trying to alert me to something beyond my conscious awareness. But recently I have been listening to my inner grouch for guidance. 
My partner Ric decided to bike to Tofino from the east side of the island at the end of last year. I asked him not to be on the road after dark, but as he set out at 3 pm in mid December from Nanaimo I knew that he had not really acknowledged my desires in this instance. That evening when he phoned from a hotel in Port Alberni he described his stop in Coombs where he warmed up his feet by running hot water over them in a coffee shop sink. And then he told me about the ride down the hill into Port from the Arrowsmith summit when he had to have his head off to the side due to the huge spray of water coming off his front wheel. I try to imagine what a truck driver would be thinking if one saw Ric hurtling down the hill on his bicycle.
I was to follow Ric out to Tofino with children and the gear the next day. I woke in a grouchy mood. I packed and yelled at my daughter to get in the car so we could pick up her friend and get  going. I was sharp and grim as we got on the road. My energy was directed far in front of the vehicle; I was thinking of the road ahead of myself and Ric. I knew that the last incline to the summit pass and the two-lane road on the decent to Kennedy Lake were treacherous to drive let alone bike. There was often barely enough room for two cars to pass one another. The road itself was without a shoulder to ride on. 
I stopped in Coombs for cinnamon buns and picked up a sweet coffee in Port Alberni. I had in my mind a place where the highway goes over a river that flows into Sproat Lake. I wanted to catch up to Ric at that point and drove with determination and some speed. I barked at the kids if they disturbed my plan in any way. There was mostly silence in the car.
When we reached the rest stop where the river runs under the highway we saw a rider with his bike upside down on the side of the road. Ric had mostly finished fixing a flat tire and was standing at the side of the road so we wouldn’t miss him instead of taking what refuge was offered at the rest stop. I persuaded Ric to put his bike on the vehicle while the kids ran into the snow by the side of the road. They complained that it was hard to walk in snow up past their thighs. Ric was, I think, hypothermic and ate a bun and had the coffee in the warm car. 
When Ric told me that he was ready to get out I told him that I would let him know when I would let him out to bike the rest of the way. I kept driving over the hump and stopped next to Kennedy Lake where the paved shoulder begins again. I believe that my inner grouch got me where I needed to be at the time that I needed to be there. Ric didn’t argue when I told him in no uncertain terms that I was driving until I was ready to let him ride again. I think that after 13 years he has probably seen my inner grouch once or twice...yeah, probably! 

The best things about that trip were the story and the better mood that I was in as the euphoria of having my stress eased washed over me... oh, and the fact that Ric was so tired that he didn't insist on any adventures for the whole two days!


Please add a comment

Posted by Brenda on
Great story, Kim! Sometimes husbands are like kids--you have to exhaust them so they won't get into trouble (any more trouble).
Posted by Jan on
I like the thought that it is an inner grouch..not somehow truly a flaw in our personality. Great story..I felt your pain and can truly picture Ric non challantly carrying on with the week-end. Thank goodness that we are not all the same, these partners of ours keep life interesting!
Posted by Ruth on
Thanks for sharing - could picture it all. Gonna pass it on to my partner so he can see I'm not the only one. It's our job - to be the protective grouch.
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