Chapter 36 – Tiyul (טיול) (hike) – May 2025
"Wait, Grandpa, I want see the blue flowers," five year old Rivka called out to her grandfather as she veered from the path. The clusters of sky blue flowers caught her eye as she and the others hiked around the pond by Gibbs' cabin.
"Tali, Katie, hold up a minute," he called out to the two girls heading the line. "Flower break!"
Tori and Beth turned in the path to see where their grandfather was pointing. "She ALWAYS stops for the blue flowers," Beth commented to her cousin. "Blue is her favorite color."
Tali and Katie came back towards the others. Riv was checking out the bunches of bell-shaped flowers among the daisies in the small clearing.
"Virginia bluebells," Gibbs informed the girl. "And oxeye daisies."
"They're pretty, Grandpa. Can we pick some to take back?" Riv made her best puppy eyes at the old man.
"You gonna carry 'em?"
Riv nodded, "All the way back; please?"
He nodded, "Remember to shake 'em to get rid of any critters." The young girl pulled bluebells and daisies into a bunch and shook the entire handful upside down as her grandfather had shown the kids. She grinned as she carried her make-shift bouquet as the group continued their hike.
The grandfather and granddaughters came to another clearing with a view of the water. Tali held up a hand to stop everyone and she also pressed her finger to her lips to signal them all to be quiet. She pointed towards the water.
All eyes turned in the direction the almost eleven-year-old pointed. "A momma and baby deer," Tali whispered. "Drinking from the pond."
The group watched as the baby drank while the mother deer kept guard over her offspring. Both suddenly startled when a hawk dipped down to grab a fish from the water. The deer took cover in the wooded area quickly.
"That was so cool, Grandpa," Katie was the outdoors member of the McGee family. "That's one thing I like about coming to your cabin. We get to see lot of neat nature things like deer, and hawks, and eagles, and fish, and…"
"SNAKE!" Beth screamed.
Rivka moved closer to Grandpa as she looked where her twin was pointing. "Where is it?" she asked fearfully.
Tali sighed, "It's a harmless black snake; jeez…" She rolled her eyes at Katie; little sisters could be a real pain sometimes. "We move on and let it be; live and let live, right Grandpa?"
"Yep," he took a hand of each twin and led them around the rock where the snake was sunning itself. "Besides, black snakes eat mice and other small critters such as moles, rats, and frogs. Keeps the population of rodents down."
"They are still snakes," Riv muttered to Beth.
The twin nodded, "Yup, and yucky." They walked close to Grandpa until the group was well past the snake on its rock. "I don't like snakes; I don't care how many mice they eat."
The group rounded the path towards the cabin; they could see the building across the cleared area and all five girls broke into a run to race to the porch. Rivka still had her flowers clutched in her hand. Tori ran between two trees trying to take a shortcut.
Everyone stopped when the Palmer girl let out a blood-curdling scream and began thrashing around as she screamed.
"Get it off me; get it off me," she screamed at the top of her lungs.
"Get what?" Tali was closest to her cousin and turned around at the screams.
"SPIDER! GET. IT. OFF. Now!" the girl screamed hysterically and waved her arms as she jumped around trying to find the spider and make it fall off her body.
Tali tried to see the spider, but Tori was moving too much. Rivka came alongside her older sister; the others were nearing the girls. Gibbs was moving as fast as he could with his bum knees.
"Do you see the spider, Riv?"
"No; she won't hold still so we can find it."
Tali thought quickly, "I'll get her to focus on me, and you see if you can find it, okay?"
Riv nodded and handed her flowers to Katie. She moved around to the opposite side of Tori from Tali as the older girl tried to calm her cousin.
"Tor? Hey, look at me," Tali gently coaxed. "We're gonna get the spider off, but you have to help us. Okay?"
Tori looked over at Tali, "Um, okay… but I hate spiders." She screamed again as she felt something on the back of her neck. "Get it off," she cried.
"Look at me, Tor. That's it… look at the pretty flowers that Riv picked and Beth is holding. We're gonna find Grandpa's Mason jar and put the flowers in it to decorate the table."
Riv moved closer to her cousin and Tori started to turn to look at the younger girl.
Tal spoke again, "No, look at me. Riv's just checking you over; you watch me. Tell me what your favorite thing is about Grandpa's cabin…"
"Not spiders," tears streamed down the Palmer girl's face. "I like when we make the corn in the fire pit and when we catch fish from the dock. And when Grandpa takes us in the boat." She sniffled. "And the hammock…" she grinned through tears.
Rivka spotted the black and yellow garden spider on her cousin's back; it was in her hair. She walked slowly to get closer to Tori and grabbed the spider, yanking it from the older girl's hair.
"I got it," Riv held up the spider as Tori bolted for the front porch. Beth, Katie, and Tali checked it out before Rivka put the spider on one of the trees where Tori had run through its web. By the time the others arrived at the cabin, Tori had already changed her shirt and brushed her hair.
Gibbs poured tall glasses of lemonade for all the girls and brought them out to the porch with a tin of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. He placed the tray of drinks and the cookie container on the table and motioned for the girls to help themselves.
"Thanks, Grandpa," they chorused.
Gibbs pulled Tori into a hug, "Better?"
"Yeah; hugs help," she smiled. "Thanks, Riv for getting that spider off of me. And thanks, Tali for trying to keep me calm. You guys are the best cousins."
Tali and Rivka high-fived, as Gibbs smiled. The unwritten rule applied to his grandkids just as much as their parents. You do what you gotta do for family.