Posts tagged ‘summer’

Deja Vu

Nearly thirty years ago I was this little girl. Big boots, an Oregon summer, blonde wild hair, and someone’s big green boots.

My sister and I looked forward to a trip to our Aunt Sally’s cabin like it was Disneyland. It was better than Disneyland. The smell of dry summer grass, oak trees, and ripe blackberry bushes sustained us, was a scent of nirvana. There was dirt at Sally’s, piles of kittens to sleep with, a river, mosquitos, push-up popsicles, cousins, and adventure. We loved it more than anything.

So it was with great nostalgia that I looked up in my sister’s Oregon kitchen to see my little daughter trying on workboots, or caught a sight of her picking blackberries among the chickens, or piling on top the dog. Her hair at night smelled like warm Oregon grass and sun, her face was dirty from honest, country, play. If those scenes and scents were nirvana in my childhood, smelling and seeing them layered upon my sweet child is, if even possible, better.


August 11, 2010 at 9:26 am 2 comments

No Matter Which Way You Slice It

It really is still a nine-hour drive from Portland to Missoula. It seems that driving during the night doesn’t change that fact. Although, we were able to effect a change in the incessant discontented moaning from the toddler. She whimpered in her car-seat shaped sleep instead. On that front we were successful. With three slumbering girls tangled in the back seat Nathan and I finished several conversations, munched on trail mix, and zoned out, which proved to be a refreshing shift from the constant snack fetching, squabble settling, and nursing gymnastics of the previous trip. Now, the three hours of sleep I got upon returning home? Not so refreshing.

But we are home. And, the gods really are smiling on us. Clean sheets, a clean fridge, a clean house, more than one could ever wish for upon return. Either we picked a stellar house-sitter, we got a little help from sympathetic and awesome friends, or both. As soon as the sun rises a bit more I intend to find out.

The last portion of our trip included Pickathon, a music festival that stretches across a warm, sweet-smelling, gorgeous farm right outside of Portland. Emily traded several of her Filly dresses with the founders of the festival in exchange for a vendor booth and tickets for all. This meant that not only did we get to listen to music, gaze at Mount Hood in the distance, and people watch, we also had a home base in the heart of the action where we could help beautiful women try on clothes, cook a meal in our makeshift kitchen, and lounge with my sister. The girls were equally content. New friends, kid activities, favorite foods, caring adults always ready to grab a snack or wrestle, and the freedom to run wild, knowing they could always find their way back to the Filly booth.

I also have never seen dirtier children. At night we methodically wiped farm dirt from between fingers and toes, scrubbed watermelon juice from chins, and washed unknown sticky streaks from necks and forearms before unzipping the tent flap. Like dead weights they dropped into their sleeping bags, glow bracelets adorning far-flung arms, faces slack with exhaustion. Nathan and I stepped back into the musical dark each evening knowing that we’d stuffed enough fun into those skinny bodies to last them a lifetime.

And I am filled as well. There is such exquisite pleasure in the company of our friend-family. Our children are theirs, the closest they have to their own, and they treat them as befits that honor. They smile at their antics, know their personalities, and see their histories in each twist and twirl. And as the girls wove in and out among our sandaled legs we ate berries, drank tea, and laughed. We discussed topics that only friends of many years get to discuss in mixed company: sex, relationships, embarrassing moments, the past, the future, our dreams and concerns. I wore my sister’s shoes, and got to be next to her, to watch her face and delight in her crinkly smile.

Pulling away from the curb was tragic as always. They stood on the lawn, mustard yellow sweaters, red jeans, dusty blues and greys, a rainbow of everything good and sustaining. My sister’s face was puckered in that sad way that if we lingered, or said anything at all, would crumble into crocodile tears. My throat tightened around a yo-yo and we drove away.

I sure do love her.

I love them all, and I am grateful that we got that splendid summer week in their company.

August 10, 2010 at 9:33 am 2 comments

how we roll

Nathan on his bike, pulling Bella on the tag-a-long, pulling Xi in the bike trailer.

Me riding Echo in the front-mounted seat, pulling Henry in the dog trailer, pulling several colorful tubes.

If we leave the dog at home, (or make him run), Nathan and I can ride the tandem, pulling Bella on the tag-a-long, pulling Xi and Echo in the bike trailer. All five of us on one “vehicle”.

We are long, unwieldy and eye catching.

July 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm 1 comment


Summer is my very favorite time of year, without a doubt, which makes it particularly funny that I live in Montana where winter takes center stage for eight months out of the twelve. But, who knows, perhaps it is because of those dark and cold months that I cherish the warm long days of river time and popsicles. In Santa Cruz, where I grew up, the sun is almost always shining and you start to take it for granted. You never wake up, see the sun, and declare that we have to go to the beach today. But here? When I check the weather and it shows illustrated suns and temperatures in the 90s stretching through the week, Nathan and I put our heads together, imaginary clip boards and pencils in hand, to best figure out how to get the very most of these precious days.

Turtle fountains by morning, river by evening?

Swimming pool today, river tomorrow?

Camping at a lake tonight and river on the return tomorrow?

You’ll notice that the river figures prominently no matter what the plan may be. Our first river day was July 6th this year, factoring in occasionally cloudy days, busy days, work, traveling, and child transfer days, means we have maybe forty days left. Forty-some days, out of three hundred and sixty-five. The pressure is intense.

Some days we only have time to race to the shore at seven in the evening, jump in, and race back home, because the thing about summer is that regular life still continues as well. Bills continue to arrive, we still get hungry, hamster food still spills onto the floor, towels still get that nasty wet smell and need to be washed.

I remember as a kid, starting up my summer vacation over a leisurely bowl of cereal, and gasping as my dad descended the stairs in a suit. Dad! Why are you wearing that? You mean you have to GO TO WORK in the SUMMER???? He always laughed and explained that yes indeed, his work continued no matter what the season or what the elementary school schedule declared. When Nathan heads out to a coaching appointment I have some of the same feelings. What? Where in the world are you going?

I’d like to float through every day, all five of us together and content, bellies full of watermelon and home-made turkey sandwiches. And I guess, to be fair, despite my complaining, when all adjustments have been made, a content image is what I will remember best anyway. When I search my memory of last summer’s snapshots I see nothing but river and warm skin. I’m sure there was work and grocery shopping but I can’t recall those parts.

Maybe, in order to squeeze out the most enjoyment, I should live my current life as though paging through a scrapbook, sliding gently past the toil and humdrum, and lingering on the sun dappled bits. I might want to stop scraping myself on the edges of “regular life” so that I don’t miss the forty (maybe) days left to us.

July 15, 2010 at 7:28 am Leave a comment

3, 2, 1…..summer!

Summer has arrived overnight.

Sandals, naked girls running through the backyard, cooking dinner in a hot kitchen, ice cream in the shade, pink cheeks and shoulders, sun glasses, resting in shady spots.


It’s the season I wait for all year, basically holding my breath through nine long months, yet now that it’s here I find myself a little disoriented. Montana doesn’t allow for much transition. Our puffy, down coats are still hanging on the coat rack. Winter boots were useful only a couple of weeks ago, so the switch to all-out summer is a little choppy. Give me two more days and I will know where the sunscreen is. A few more and I will be used to having the wild child that is Bella for weeks at a stretch instead of a weekend at a time. Give me a week or two and I might even be able to head some of her jaw-dropping ideas off at the pass instead of following in her tumultuous wake. By the end of the day we will know which windows to open in the morning, and which shades to draw until afternoon.

Until then I’m like a chicken with its head cut off, delirious that summer has arrived, but crunchy around the edges as I flounder through lightening-quick changes. Transition, no matter how happy I am to be transitioning, has always been difficult for me. Knowing this is helpful. If I remember that nirvana is just around the corner maybe I won’t mind a temporary lack of grace.

After all, I soon will be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, adjusting my floppy hat, watching the river float lazily past, and wishing for it to never, never, please god, never end.

June 14, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

glory, glory

Blessed be. River season has arrived. My soul has made it once again through the trials of winter and can sing once again.

May 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm Leave a comment

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