OK, I finished the A-Z Challenge, so I am going to restart it. This time, however, I am going to focus on places or entities that can be found within Mendocino County. I do not intend to imply that the subjects of my writing are the most significant, only that they have personal relevance to me. Today’s letter is C for Chimney Rock.
The Battle of Chimney Rock
If you have a few minutes, I would like to share with you the battle of Chimney Rock. Note, I did not say the battle at Chimney Rock; I doubt very much an actual battle has ever been fought at the site of this spot, simply because it is so hard to get to. I know, because Annie and I have hiked there twice, and it is quite a challenging trek.
The rock itself, located in the northernmost part of Mendocino County, is just southeast of Leggett, but when hiking to it from Bell Springs Road, it is a hard walk, mostly over old, badly worn logging roads. I have never climbed it, mind you, because it scares the bejabbers out of me, though there are several members of my family who have climbed it. I actually think I could get up, but then I could never get back down. Someone would have to call Cal-Fire to rescue me.
I don’t even remember the first time Annie and I made the hike, but I do have a vivid recollection of the second time, because it was preceded by a good deal of drama. The year was 1989, and it was sometime in the late summer, the year I went back to school to get my teaching credential. The boys were seven, six and four years old respectively, so in order to go for a four-five hour walk, we had to leave them with Mama and Papa, who were only too happy to have them.
We had been talking about making the journey for several days, and the boys knew that it meant hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma for an afternoon, maybe helping out in the garden, or watching a film with Grandpa. This had never posed problems in the past, but this time, our number three son, whose name shall remain anonymous, decided to get clingy. Normally the most amiable and docile fellow imaginable, he got it into his head, that he did not want his mama to leave him behind, and he put up quite a ruckus when we went to drop the three of them off.
Mind you, I do not remember him squawking about leaving his dad, just his mom. Annie and I figured he’d whine for a few minutes, and all would be well, so we gave him hugs and kisses, and proceeded as though to leave. Who could have believed such a weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth would ensue? This was unchartered waters, and we stood outside the house, listening to the clamor, and cogitated. Did we really want to go hiking badly enough to inflict this on the folks?
Well, we did what made sense at the time, and went back inside to retrieve the three of them, figuring we would try it again in a few days’ time. Upon arriving home, I figured at least the little guy had deserved a time-out for his egregious behavior, so I took him upstairs to his room, and latched the door on my way out, to ensure that he would not be able to escape. As I went down the stairs, the volume escalated, and the sound of little feet started to sound like an 808 drum, as he began kicking the door.
Now I have gone on record, repeatedly, asserting that I am totally opposed to violence of any sort, and that I have never resorted to spanking my sons. My logic has always been that I could never convince them that fighting and hitting each other is unacceptable, if I went around hitting them myself. Until this point, I had rigidly retained this policy. Alas, all good things must come to an end.
I didn’t really think what he had done was all that atrocious, but I was determined to at least get him to stop kicking the door, before he put his little cowboy boots right through it. So I headed back upstairs to have a little consultation with him. To my surprise, my presence (instead of his mama’s) made him even more furious. His face was beet red and quite a mess, what with the tears and the steady stream flowing out of his nostrils.
By now he was beyond consoling; every attempt to get him to listen to reason was met with more hysterics. Finally I gave up and told him I was going back downstairs, and he was not. Upon hearing this, he let out one more bellow, and screamed at me that he was going to jump out the window and kill himself. At four years of age? If he hadn’t been so demonstrative, I think I would have found it comical. As it was, I decided enough was enough, and that I was not going to put up with that kind of drama.
With that, I turned him over my knee, and administered the one and only spanking of my career as a dad. After all, I couldn’t very well allow the Small Boy to place himself in danger, without responding, could I? In my own childhood, my father only spanked me a half-dozen or so times, and every one was a direct result of my putting myself in danger, such as dashing out into the street, or riding my bike irresponsibly. He set a good precedent.
So, yes, I tell a small white lie when I say I never spanked my boys, but I do it when I hear others maintain that a “good old-fashioned spanking” would today’s kids good. No, no, no! Spanking is not good, under any circumstances.
That’s what makes the battle of Chimney Rock so significant. We did get our hike in, shortly thereafter, because whereas spanking is detestable, bribery is not. All we had to do was settle on the appropriate payment, and off we went, to face the challenge of Chimney Rock.