September 23, 2015

Swimming weather in the mountains


Every fall, I travel to the mountains with a group of women friends for a weekend retreat. It's a tradition. We bring warm clothes and hiking boots, as well as books and journals. Weaving Woman brings her loom; Quilt Artist brings an art project. I'm the firekeeper, and I carry in armloads of firewood while my friends make big pots of delicious soups and stews. We normally spend hours by the fire each night, talking, sometimes dancing, always eating.

This year, Signing Woman — whose generous family owns the beautiful old camp where we stay — moved the weekend from October into September because she's going to a wedding on our usual weekend. The weather was unseasonably warm, and that meant that we got, for the first time, to see this great camp in summer weather, the season that it was clearly built for.

Instead of huddling inside by the fire, we threw open all the windows, letting the breezes flow through. We sat  out on the dock. We swam to the raft and soaked in the water that had been softened by months of summer sun. Makes Bread and I tried out the paddleboards: it turns out that a paddleboard isn't that different than a canoe, except you stand up instead of sit. Best of all, the camp has a little sunfish sailboat. I took the sunfish out for sail on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. Zooming along under wind power, using my body to shift the boat into the right position, made me remember just how much I love sailing.

By the end of the weekend, we were all as relaxed as a bunch of kids on summer vacation. The tough part was remembering that we had to pack up and go back to work on Monday.


September 16, 2015

The last bit of summer

End of the season sail

Labor Day weekend at my parents’ camp is often cold or rainy, coming as it does at the end of the season. But this year, the weekend was sunny and warm. “This feels like July,” we all kept saying. It felt like a wonderful bonus.

About fifteen family members gathered for the weekend, bringing tents and food. My brother brought his sailboat so that he and my father could take several long sails on the river. Red-haired Niece and her boyfriend brought their dog and their motorboat: I went out on the river with them for the fun of leaping off the boat into the deep, clear water. We ate corn on the cob that had been picked that morning, we swam in the afternoon, and we sat by the fire in the evening, enjoying the absence of the mosquitoes.

Schoolteacher Niece brought her one-year-old daughter, who had fun playing at the beach. She seems to love water in all forms, whether it’s water to drink or water to play in. When I handed her an empty bucket, she started right down to the dock with the intent of filling it up with water.

Off to get water

I took several leisurely paddles in my little red kayak. I love the river in September when the cattails are high, the water is low, and the creeks are secret, hidden places. I usually start off by paddling as hard as I can against the wind, and then once I’ve gone far enough, I drift with the wind, taking photos and looking down at the water to spot fish swimming through the weeds. When I was a child, I used to spend hours lying on the bow of my father’s sailboat, staring down at the underwater world of mysterious green weeds and imaging the fairy people who probably lived there.

  Into the creek

September 11, 2015

An event in a history book

My first year students are mostly seventeen and eighteen years old. When we talked about the 9/11 terrorist attack, none of them chimed in to say where they'd been or what they remembered. They were just little kids: they don't remember it at all. The kids who grow up in Big City Like No Other have heard about that day from parents and family members, and others learned about it in school, but they don't remember it. They're too young.