From November 28, 2020
It may sound grandiose, however, Storm King is a name befitting it’s station. This is the Pacific Northwest, a land that does majestic mountains. The people here do majestic mountains. So although the 4 mile round trip trail– which butresses Lake Crescent to the south– clocks a 2000′ elevation gain, we stormed that king. Our hosts (Lake’s good friend George’s family) took five little kids up that mountain like a walk to Rite-aid and back. Our German au pair had no choice but to huff up as well. How can you not, despite the despair of the switchbacks, when five children are racing ahead of you and the mossy adults are grimly striding it out PNW-style, forcing a smile whenever they catch a glance being sneaked at them?
Storm King thus invoked a romantic mood as the eleven of us leaned into the rocky trail, breathing heavily of the cold winter air. The woods were dripping with dampness, the cascading waterfall out of sight but sending whorls of mist up the mountainside. Our little hiking party was ebullient, having just ascended Storm King and viewed the great expanses of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and beyond. Lake was holding hands with George’s next oldest sister, Beatrice. They were gamboling down the trail together like puppies.
“My mama loves time out”, Lake said by way of a pick-up line. “Yes, she loves it when I put her in time out,” he tried again.
I was called into position as his wingman. “It’s true. Adults love time out”, I say. “We call it ‘me time.’”
Lake said to Beatrice, “maybe when we’re in college we could get married.”
“I’m too old for you,” said Beatrice, age seven.
Lake, not dissuaded, continued, “Maybe you can wait and decide when we’re in high school.”
She let go of his hand and continued skipping sweetly down the trail. Old man’s beard waved at her bouncing curls as she passed. The crinkly strands of algae-imbued fungus danced on the misty updraft, quite at home on the craggy ravine, ageless and impervious to the passing of time.
In her decicive refusal, Beatrice was intuiting the The Ayres Age-Appropriate Dating ToolTM (aka “The Gap App”TM). The fictitious Gap AppTM is a formula developed by Michael Ayres VanLaanen to test the maximum age difference a potential dating pair can withstand. The Older may exceed The Younger’s age by 125%, without it being “weird”. (So,at age 11, you might have the best chance Lake, when Beatrice is 14.)
In his persistance, Lake was also channelling the Gap AppTM, in graciously offering she could wait and re-evaluate his marriage proposal in ten years time. He had a wise notion that their relative age difference would diminish over time, and that by the time they were “in high school” she might feel differently.
Nonplussed, Lake moved along, continuing his inspired romantic musings. “I could also marry a boy. But I think I’ll probably marry a gwirl,” Lake said.
Piper’s name came up. At just 3 months younger than Lake, his babyhood friend Piper does handily pass the Gap App test. “Yeah, I’ll probably marry Piper,” he concluded, satisfied. Sure-footed as a mountain goat he scampered on down the trail after George and Beatrice, ahead of the rest of us.