Do we LOOK like Batman and Robin?

Lindsay (one of my colleagues) and I went off to do some cache maintenance at lunchtime. We wanted to find out who had logged The Other Leith Walk, put a travel bug in it then come back within our lunch hour. A chance to have a nice walk, a pleasant chat, nothing much.

On our way, we passed a little girl sitting on a bench with her mother kneeling in front of her. I only noticed them because the mother was being very affectionate, stroking the girl’s hair. Their bikes were beside them.

So we get there, but there are pedestrians. We’re standing by the tree, looking up at it & trying to figure out what species it is to kill the time, when a lady stops. “Excuse me,” she says, “but is there something going on up in that tree?” She’s peering into the branches. “Some kind of rare bird nest or something? I’m sure I saw people here yesterday too, and one of them had a camera. Or maybe it was further along.”

Uh, oh, I thought. One set of cachers, who found it yesterday, had a camera. Were they indiscreet? Does she suspect?

We said that we were just trying to figure out what kind of tree it was, and that we didn’t know anything about any rare birds round there. She seemed convinced that it was just coincidence, and went on. Then I inspected the cache, found out that Silver Fox and crustyloafer found it, and left the travel bug in. Reading the log, seeing how enthusiastic the other cachers (crustyloafer and his brother), I was encouraged. Maybe we’ll get another active cacher in Edinburgh.

I’m not really that worried that the cache will be plundered. It is very well hidden, actually, despite how close it is to the path. Still, I think I shall do another visit fairly soon just to be sure.

Then we were walking back when we come across an elderly gentleman trying to hold two bikes (an adult’s and a child’s) upright while leaning on his cane, looking anxiously up and down the path. He was just past the spot where we’d seen the mother and daughter, and he stopped us and asked for help. Apparently, the daughter had fallen quite badly off her bike, and the mother had called an ambulance. He had been passing by, and had offered to take their bikes to his house for safekeeping, but his offer had been more chivalrous than practical. He would have struggled to get one home, let alone the two.

So we walked the bikes back to his house nearby, and carried them up the stairs and into the common hallway where they would be safe. We all nodded smugly at each other, conscious of how good of citizens we were, and Lindsay and I rushed off, coming toward being late back to our desks.

But there must have been something about us – some indefineable Batman-and-Robinishness. We were walking up the hill past Canonmills, debating where to get food, when a Spanish woman stopped us because she couldn’t get her key to turn in her front lock. Neither could we, though we both tried (I think she was at the wrong house).

Good things come in threes, they say. We managed to avoid that. We were just about back to work when a confused-looking Japanese woman tried to cach our eyes. But then another woman passed her, and got ensnared instead. We passed them as the local was explaining that there wasn’t a Texaco anywhere nearby, but that Tesco’s was right over there…

After all that, we were only 5 minutes late back.


Originally entered as a daylog on E2 on July 18, 2002.

He left me today.

We were hanging out the laundry in the back garden. Or rather, I was hanging out the laundry while he explored the principles of clothespegs. At fifteen months, such things are very interesting.

Then, quite calmly, he closed the clothespeg bag, picked it up, and stood up. He slung his burden over one shoulder (it still nearly dragged on the ground), then turned and gave me a solemn wave. “Bye,” he said, exhausting his vocabulary. He waved again and turned, still clutching the clothespeg bag. Then he walked to the back door.

Sadly, he was too short to reach the handle, so I never saw how far he was determined to go.

It was a cute game, however abortive. He’s exploring the ideas of separation and departure in his own way. His ability to control his movements, to leave at will, gives him the power to flirt with these difficult, dangerous notions.

Watching him, I saw the shadows of future departures – off to school, leaving for college perhaps. Driving away with all his things in the trunk of his car. Walking up to the altar with his true love.

A cloud seemed to cross the sun as I thought of another departure, me from him or him from me, more final than any of those bright futures. That’s the leave-taking he dreads, looking back so anxiously as he goes, just to be sure that I’m still there. He doesn’t know about death, of course, but he fears loss nevertheless.

The sun came out again as he came toddling back. He threw his arms around me and gave me a soggy, open-mouthed kiss. The shadows of future departures, both good and bad, vanished in the delight of the present.

I love you, Bobo

Signs and Secrets

Originally entered as a daylog on everything2 for July 8, 2002

Spent lunchtime today double checking the GPS co-ordinates for my second geocache. I am mildly hooked on caching (insofar as I can be in this city, avec toddler & sans car). Cachers tend to be drivers, and even those caches in a town are almost completely devoid of public transport information. So my caching activities are pretty much restricted to Edinburgh, which has three caches in town (by next week, there will be four). I’ve visited one, and will be looking for another on the 11th.

I constructed the third one myself over the last four months. I’m actually quite proud of it. It maps out a six-stage walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town in the footsteps of Burke and Hare. As the searchers go from place to place, they have to look for numbers carven on gravestones, into buildings, and on plaques. The numbers then assemble to make up the GPS co-ordinates for a final location where there’s a grim historical relic. The cache has an E2 connection as well. One fellow noder, nine9, helped me pick some of the locations, and two others (fuzzy_and_blue and Jongleur helped Mom test it. Only one other person has hunted it thus far (Silver Fox, Edinburgh’s only other geocacher), but I’m hoping people will come up for the Edinburgh Festival and spend an afternoon on it.

This second cache is less public — it’s on a footpath that is not at all obvious from the streets nearby. I think non-locals will have trouble finding their way onto the path. Martin and I didn’t realise it was there when we first moved to a flat three blocks from it. Once we found it, I used to walk home from work that way in the summers. It was a secret place, hidden from the main flow of Edinburgh traffic, and I was sorry to abandon it when we moved again. It’s also the gateway to other secret places, such as Warriston Cemetery, with its population of, erm, romantically inclined men.

While I was out scouting for the cache location, I saw my first warchalking mark. Martin told me where it was. I’d walked right by it on July 6, and would have done again if I didn’t know what it meant.

It all makes me wonder what other things are stashed along the path, in holes in the walls and under rocks. What else is hidden around Edinburgh? What of all the graffiti and scribbling on walls is more than it seems? It’s the fascination of spying, of tradecraft but there’s something deeper.

I partake, to some extent, of those family characteristics that get diagnosed as Asperger’s syndrome when they occur in full measure. Some of that is an inability to read the signs, to find the secrets of other people. After all the trouble I have with social interactions, I’ve come to like secrets I can unravel. I wish I could find the GPS location of a hidden agenda, or a glossary of the markings that advertise the truth.