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The vortex of summer

June 8, 2010

How’s your summer going?

Are you diving headfirst into the fleeting, sunny vortex of small, river-washed bodies,

*we may not have beaches in Colorado, but man do we have a fabulous river*

cilantro forests,

and the seductive lure of summer that whispers: come outside; to the garden, the river, the woods, the mountains, the shady park.

I didn’t turn my computer on for three days and a lovely thing happened: absolutely nothing. My e-mails waited patiently in line, my blog didn’t implode or shrivel up, and I tasted the tangy freedom of letting go of my writerly ambitions. And see, these ambitions, which usually feel as necessary to quench as my dry, June thirst, bloom in dark indoor spaces, me and the screen intertwined like secret lovers, the clock ticking away the moments we have alone. But in this season I am drawn to come outside; to the garden, the river, the woods, the mountains, the shady park.

And I adore and need my writing practice with an intensity I barely have time to stop and ponder, and yet there’s that heavy obligatory anchor dragging my mind through the sharp rocks when I interpret the blogging fine print to read “post often or die.” I suspect some of you understand.

arnica and red columbines

Yesterday it was my birthday. And having learned from Mother’s Day that it’s not quite “my day” as long as there are little people around who need orifices wiped and fierce reminders about chokeables, I sent the kids out with Dan for the evening and invited a bunch of Mama girlfriends over.

I left my camera upstairs in the spirit of unplugging from the anchor, the sharp rocks, and took snapshots in my mind:

:: bare feet in the grass.

:: a plate of food resting on a pregnant belly.

:: laughter slamming me in the gut like an ocean wave.

:: fresh sangria splashing into glasses.

:: the contagious giddiness of being together without children

Dan returned at sunset with the kids–who bounced in as lovely and bright as starlight–with a small mess of crawfish caught at Lemon Lake.

“What presents did you get?” the kids grilled me, certain that a birthday party is strictly an occasion to eat cake and rake in presents. I received chocolate-covered strawberries and a few books I am excited to read, but really, just hanging with the girls without having to tame the feral offspring into eating dinner before birthday cake or to share the sandbox shovel, was truly the best gift. Gathering with girlfriends in the backyard swirl of climbing peas and apricot sunsets and chirping sparrows was like a little whisper in my ear: this too, Mama. You too.

I want to say thank you to the two people who used to chase me around, wiping my orifices and making sure I ate my vegetables before dessert. The best gift my parents ever gave me was their unconditional support and love. Even when I was a surly teenager moping around like I actually knew what a hard life was; even when I developed an apathy for school like an unshakeable disease; even when I repeatedly broke their rules, upholding “not getting caught” as an ideal above all – but not being very skilled at it; even when I was so egocentric it rarely occurred to me that my parents were actually people outside of being my parents, they never withdrew their unconditional love. I hope I can be as compassionate and resolute when it is my turn to raise teenagers who don’t want to be raised.

And the best gift they give me now, is adoring my children.



I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful.

ps: this may be a good time to subscribe to 6512 and growing via e-mail so you don’t miss anything. wink wink.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy permalink
    June 8, 2010 8:28 am

    Happy Belated Birthday, Rachel! Another wonderful post – and as usual, I teared up. Glad you got to enjoy a nice night with your girlfriends- which truly is a gift these days – and one I never knew I’d appreciate as much as I do! Glad to hear also that you enjoyed some time away from your computer – every once in a while you just have to do it – to know you can! Although I do miss your posts :-(, I will happily wait to hear from you so you can take your time to enjoy the outdoors and your fantastic children! Happy Birthday! xo, Peggy

  2. June 8, 2010 8:58 am

    oh, goodness, so sweet to read! Happy Birthday Rachel. You’re a fine human being!

  3. June 8, 2010 9:11 am

    happy birthday, rachel! I loved that you remembered your parents on your day and shared the gratitude that you have for them. The pictures of your parents with your kiddos are so touching.

  4. Michelle permalink
    June 8, 2010 9:20 am

    Happy Birthday Rachel! This was such a great post & such a sweet thank you to your parents.

    I love your writing!

  5. June 8, 2010 9:31 am

    Happy Birthday Rachel! Sounds like you had a lovely day. Gathering girlfriends around is a wonderful thing.

  6. nataliechristensen permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:08 am

    Happy Birthday! Mine was yesterday too. I finished my post about it then read yours and felt a little guilty that I didn’t overtly thank my parents as well. oops. Thanks for sharing, I think you’re pretty great.

  7. June 8, 2010 11:38 am

    Sounds like the perfect birthday…and the perfect granparents. Enjoy those summery computer breaks!

  8. Judy permalink
    June 8, 2010 1:57 pm

    And congratulations on passing 30K hits on your blog – the latest 10K came in faster than the earlier ones, right?!

  9. Kathy Smith permalink
    June 8, 2010 2:56 pm

    Wonderful as always and from the vantage point of nearly seventy years of age, life only gets better with deeper and more meaningful moments. I am so glad I got to meet your parents when we visited with you. Much love, Kathy

  10. June 8, 2010 3:24 pm

    Happy belated birthday, Rachel! I find myself over here in tears after reading this post. I needed to hear everything you’ve said here, more than I realized. Thanks for your wisdom about parents and parenting and writing and blogging. Oh, and orifices.

    (Would it make you giggle to know that I once worked in a school in which the principal’s name was Mrs. Orifice? How silly is that? Consider that my belated birthday gift to you!)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 8, 2010 3:50 pm

      *Giggling* Would it make you giggle to know that I was once a student at a school in which the principal’s name was Tudisco? Too disco? Yup.

  11. June 8, 2010 3:54 pm

    I love how you spent your birthday. Delightful. Happy happy belated birthday.
    Oh and I hope I can also be “compassionate and resolute when it is my turn to raise teenagers who don’t want to be raised.” Yay to your parents for sure.

  12. June 8, 2010 3:55 pm

    oh, i am so glad you had your birthday with friends! it sounds so so lovely!!! happy happy birthday, rachel!

  13. June 8, 2010 3:57 pm

    Happy birthday mama!
    I too feel the call of the sun and the things growing up all around outdoors… what a beautiful post!

  14. abozza permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:03 pm

    Well, first of all, Happy Belated Birthday to you! I’m glad to see that it was all you had hoped for! I, too, get the “itchies” when I skip a blogging day or two, as I also share the desire to write, write, write. I’m going to remember that nothing horrifying happened to you when you took a few days off when my summer rolls around (in a few weeks…I’m a teacher) and try to take my break, as well!

  15. Ellen permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:16 pm

    Wow. Almost 31,000 hits. Congratulations.

  16. ike permalink
    June 8, 2010 5:29 pm

    Your kind words about the grandparents are greatly appreciated. We are so grateful for our loving relationship with you and Dan and the kids. We take no credit for the wonderful person you are.

    Last night i saw a short, funny play about a somewhat difficult teenager coming to spend time with her grandparents. It made me wonder about what lies ahead. Life is full of surprises.


  17. Ami permalink
    June 8, 2010 6:05 pm

    Yay! Birthday Blessings to you! I “wish” summer was upon us here, but alas, we are teased by an occasional day of scattered sun, sprinkled amongst a plethora of rainy, foggy, and decidedly COOL days…. and so, summer will be getting a late start here – although the garden is loving this perennial spring, the earth has never been greener, and the rivers are, well, swollen (a rarity in June)! So, for now, I am laughing at the reality of having observed such a dutiful change of seasons in your nick o the woods…. while here, the weather is a continuous variation on cold, drippy, damp, cool, foggy and has been so since you were posting about snowbanks! Enjoy the warmth and sun, and for heaven’s sake – send some THIS way! :)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 9, 2010 3:13 pm

      Ami, Thanks for the reminder that it’s not scorching everywhere. I remember waiting for summer to come to Humboldt county in June, though now it seems impossible that you could be living in long sleeves. Enjoy all that luscious, electric green! So pleasing on the eyes. XO

  18. Melissa permalink
    June 8, 2010 7:21 pm

    Happy birthday mama!

    What a lovely evening it sounds like you had; what a lovely tribute to your folks and my, how well you write about it all! I just don’t get tired of telling you that so I hope you don’t mind.

    PS. I’m glad to see the plural of orifice is in fact orifices. I always wondered . . .

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 9, 2010 3:14 pm

      Oh Melissa, I sure don’t mind. :)

  19. June 8, 2010 10:13 pm

    Happy birthday Rachel! Here’s to a robust cilantro forest, your beautiful outdoor space, special mama time, your writing and all the wonderful people in your life who made you, you.

  20. June 9, 2010 1:15 am

    Happy birthday lovely mama!

    Your day sounded blissful.

    Rachel your writing moves me. I do love to read your words about life, kids, growing and all of it, whenever it finds itself presented! Your post today resonated somewhere within, deep, and I was in tears…. all good!


  21. June 9, 2010 5:28 am

    Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a wonderful day~ I wish you a new year full of joy, love and peace~

  22. June 9, 2010 7:56 am

    happy birthday, rachel. so glad to hear you spent the day enjoying the sunny weather w/yer lady friends. there really *is* no better gift than a little self-time. and way to deny the screen for the pursuit of rivers and mountains – i have no internet at home and play online only during work hours, three days a week (don’t tell!)
    also – i had a dream last night in which yer family had a small cameo – i was riding a boat down college and passed the four of you by as you were building a chicken coop and planting trees next to the train tracks by wells fargo.
    i have no idea.
    you waved, though.
    enjoy yer summer.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 9, 2010 3:06 pm

      Funny, because I bank at Wells Fargo, and it’s about time they had chickens instead of just those awful lollipops I try and hide from my kids!

  23. June 9, 2010 1:01 pm

    Happy, happy birthday!

  24. June 9, 2010 10:07 pm

    Happy Birthday, wonderful lady! Such a beautiful post … so many beautiful thoughts!

    I’m right there with you when it comes to blogging … hehe … blogging requires a certain amount of unconditional love too.

  25. June 9, 2010 11:14 pm

    yes, i can relate!
    happy happy birthday!
    and what a sweet message to your parents.
    lovely post!

  26. June 10, 2010 9:35 am

    Oh the perfect birthday, I think. I’m planning to copy you. Do you have plans for Aug. 22. Can you swing by?

  27. June 10, 2010 11:03 am

    Happy belated Birthday! Can I come over and get lost in your cilantro forest? (And maybe have some sangria??)

    PS: How much do Col and Rose look like your mom in that last sweet picture!

  28. June 10, 2010 11:46 am

    I needed a few days to digest the sweet, thick cream of this post. *sigh* I have such a writer’s crush on you. :-D That picture of Rosie’s little patootie is precious! I commend you for posting it in this day and age of craziness all over the place… I have a similar photo of my twin girls playing in the sprinkler at my parents house and to me it captures the yumminess that is childhood. I have it framed on my bookshelves.

    Those pictures of the kids with their grandparents are beyond words.

    Here in Seattle we celebrate each ray of sunshine that squeaks through the clouds and rain. And so far this “summer”, there has been very little. Today is rainy and cold so I’m going to enjoy summer through your eyes.

    Happy Belated Birthday! May you have many more waves of laughter slamming into you!

  29. June 10, 2010 6:25 pm

    looks like you couldn’t have had a better birthday! oh what i would give for that cilantro forest!

  30. June 10, 2010 10:32 pm

    Happy belated bday! Sounds like you had a wonderful night in. That’s the way it rolls these days. Good, fun, and comfortable. The outdoors have been beckoning me to spend more time out than in too. It must just be a universal sign of s u m m e r. Yummy cilantro included!


  31. June 12, 2010 9:42 am

    Happy belated birthday! It sounds like a wonderful time and wonderful gifts of the peace and friendship and time variety.

  32. June 19, 2010 11:06 am

    Happy belated birthday….sounds like a fabulous day was had.

    I’m jealous of your cilantro….or maybe if I stop cutting and using mine all the time I would have a bountiful amount? I’m definitely buying more plants!

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