Summary: Nothing very much happens on a warm spring morning
Of course, there was always bird watching. He hadn't done it in years.
O'Neill tramped down the path towards the cabin, the mid morning sun freckling the landscape as it filtered through the trees. Another glorious day. He took a deep breath of the blessedly clear air and hefted the grocery bag onto his other hip. Eggs for lunch, he decided. And fish for supper. He felt lucky today; the old guy at the store had offered a range of helpful suggestions, chief of which being that shady spot where the creek dog-legged and the trout just leapt out pleading to be cleaned, dipped in flour and fried in a little butter.
Yeah, then the bird watching. Good early start tomorrow; note pad, binoculars, bracing hike down the canyon, enjoy the dawn breaking. Maybe he could persuade Sam to come too. About time that city girl learned to relax and love nature.
He rounded the corner to their temporary home.
"Hey kids, I'm back!"
He strolled in through the cabin to the tiny kitchen area, looking for signs of life. The living space was deserted but he could hear voices coming from the direction of the creek. He paused in the back doorway, just gazing at the two figures on the little footbridge. What the hell were they doing?
"Not until it passes the finish line."
"What finish line? We didn't agree a finish line."
"Daniel, if you take the vertical drop from this plank to the water, then extend the horizontal to the bank, you get that rabbit-shaped pebble."
"What rabbit-shaped pebble?"
Daniel looked up at Samantha, down at the water, then back up. O'Neill could sense the quibble forming.
"I've never played this with a formal finish line."
"Well, obviously we're having to improvise here. What we really need to do is stretch some string across - "
"And we'd need to do something about the start. That count of three isn't really accurate enough."
"Sam, this is supposed to be a comfortable, relaxed, fun sort of game. You don't need accuracy."
"Of course you need accuracy. How do you know you've won?"
"Well, you look down and make a judgement and er, come to a mutual agreement."
"String would be more efficient."
O'Neill decided coffee would be a good idea. He was just unpacking the last of the supplies when Daniel walked through the door, planted a kiss on his cheek and helped himself to a cookie.
"Gone for a walk. I think she's feeling better."
"She's getting her killer instinct back. I thought for one moment she was going to send for a laser from the lab to guarantee precision."
"She beat you, huh?"
Daniel looked evasive. "Janet rang while you were at the store. She's on her way with Cassie. They'll get here late afternoon."
"The dog too? That's great."
"Jack, you will never, ever teach that animal to fetch."
"There, now you see, you have no idea what it takes to train a dog. Cassie and me, we're a great team. We'll get there." He glanced out of the window. " You know, it's a beautiful day out there. Which way did Sam go? We could take out a picnic."
"She'll be fine," Daniel said softly.
"I know that."
"She needs some space."
"She hasn't had five minutes alone since Jolinahr."
"No, Jack. She's fine - she's just starting to sort things into some kind of order."
Capitulation. O'Neill relaxed and pulled Daniel into a bear hug. Then, "So, you think she might be through the cleaning phase then?" he murmured, thoughtfully.
Daniel gazed round at the spotless work surfaces, the burnished wood, the softly gleaming metal and the vase in which even the tulips stood to attention. The cabin was a place from which all traces of disorder had been ruthlessly expunged. An almost inhuman cleanliness reigned. "I think she's moving on, yes."
"Oh. I bought her a fresh can of polish. Economy size."
"That's very thoughtful of you."
"Hey, I can do sensitive."
O'Neill treated the remark with lofty disdain and led him out to the bench, where they sat soaking up the late spring sunshine. "So what were you playing out here?"
"Haven't you played that game before?"
"Ha. Another one with a deprived childhood."
"What are you talking about?"
"Did I ever tell you about Petronella - one of my father's research assistants?"
"Now, let's see, would that be the part-time belly dancer or the one with the fascinating -"
"Oh, no, they were later. No, this was the one who eloped with Kasim, the Ibshaway dig foreman. I ran into her a few years back; she'd just published her third volume of devotional verse. Two hundred pounds and wearing the full hijab ... still recognised her, though - ow!"
"Stick to the point, Daniel."
"Oh. Yes. Anyway, she was the one who introduced me to..."
"I could give her the polish can later."
"She'll probably hit you with it."
"You think so?"
"Anyway, Petronella ... "
" '- The piglet was sitting on the ground at the door of his house blowing happily at a dandelion, and wondering whether it would be this year, next year, sometime, or never. He had just discovered that it would be never and was trying to remember what "it" was, and hoping it wasn't anything nice, when Pooh came up -.'"
"Ooooh that's really doing it for me..."
" - 'Oh! Piglet," said - ' Get your hand off that!"
"I should get you to read to me more often..."
"Behave then. ' - said Pooh ... excitedly, "We're ... going -' oooh Jaaack..."
The book thumped, unregarded, to the floor.
Extract from The Expotition to the North Pole, Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne
1 small child
1. You and small child drop both twigs into the water.
2. Rush to the other side of the bridge.
3. Wait to see which one comes out first.
4. Forget which one is yours.
5. Spend the next 5 minutes arguing about it.
6. Start again.