I hold onto the rope and watch my little sister slip on the muddy cliff. The rain is coming down in sheets. The grumpy hoots of soaked great horned owls are muffled as a thousand leaves are hit by raindrops.
Mup giggles as she latches onto the rope.
We're scaling the side of the lost ravine, a 60-foot-deep, snakelike cut that winds itself through the forest in a canyon about a mile from our house. It just so happens to be the best place for mud sliding in torrential downpours.
We scooch out onto a thin ledge above the creek, now swollen with mud-colored water. The mud slide, a chute made of slick clay with a plunge into the rapids at the end, lies a few inches from us.
“Together!” Mup insists. I grab her muddy legs and she koala-bears my back and the two of us inch ourselves to the edge.
“One!” I begin.
“Two!” she shouts.
As Mup and I grew up we spent many winters mud sliding, many summers building elaborate forts. Falls were for gathering acorns and springs were for wandering the woods in search of baby animals. We were wild, barefoot children untamed in both imagination and spirit.
So, as it was as clear as day to create a character who embodied that. The inspiration for Mup… is well, from Mup. Our relationship and our childhood together was the foundation from which I built the characters Mup and Arianna and their relationship with each other. I wanted to explore who these characters were and kept turning to my sister for inspiration.
So, what is the real Mup up to these days? Well she is a junior at Dartmouth and she is studying engineering (over Zoom of course) and she is a track and field heptathlete. (She is very speedy, my sister.) But nothing has changed much since the days of mud sliding in the woods. Mup still goes by the name Mup and still loves a good adventure H
er current hobby in the pandemic is finding waterfalls in some of the world's wild places. Check out her pandemic experience through her POV: