The day after my mother’s birthday party, I organized a hike. I had texted Chris a few weeks before the visit about what he’d like to do while here. Museums? Downtown? Shopping? and he answered with my favorite answer – a hike, something that would be very different than Houston. I was excited! The only takers were Chris and Ying, my aunt-in-law. Jeremy needed to work and mind Edda’s early arrival home from the last half day before the holiday, Robert had a bum ankle, my parents demurred. At the birthday dinner, I mentioned that I wanted to take them to the Billy Goat Trail which would take about 4 hours and would involve some rock scrambling (I knew this was a little long and a little challenging, but it is really my favorite and so close to the house and on a winter weekday, not at all crowded). Ying, first was kind of like – 4 hours! and then she said – yes! let’s do it! And we had a great time, one of the highlights of the week for me.

Ying is an enthusiastic photo-taker, we stopped a lot. The weather was gorgeous, I was a little worried they’d be too cold coming from Texas, but it was sunny and in the 50s, we were shedding our coats during the hike.

The nice thing about a hike is that you can talk or not talk and it’s totally fine. But we talked a lot! Chris talked a lot about college and his high school experience – some discussions about soccer and cheating (one or the other, not cheating in soccer). Ying and I talked about her successful cancer treatments from a few years ago and that she wants to go hiking more to see the colorful leaves in the fall. So we’ll work on that, I’ve have some ideas and even though I love fall and the leaves, I’ve never been on a real leaf peeping trip.

There was a shortcut that would have cut off about 1/3 of the hike that I offered up, but no one wanted to take the shortcut. There were also some signs that mentioned about challenging parts ahead and Ying would read the sign and then just smile and say –let’s go! So we went. This part was the most scrambling part…

I’m listening to Lab Girl, a book about a botanist. I thought I had tried reading this before and didn’t like it much, but the audiobook is enchanting and mesmerizing and I can not get enough of it. A good scientist and a beautiful writer! Sigh. There is a chapter, early in the book before she became a scientist, about when she was a pharmacy tech in a hospital in which the juxtaposition of “saving a person’s life” and “incredibly repetitive” actions within the hospital was captured very well. I’ve read enough of these scientists-coming-of-age books to realize that I could have never really made it as an academic scientist. I just never really had the stay-up-all-night desire to do endless experiments, most of which would fail. There would also be the fundraising part which, I think, would have been brutal and unrelenting and would have crushed my soul.

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