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July 6, 2010

How was your 4th? Are you still recovering from overdoing everything: sun, food, social engagements and beer? Except for what you underdid: sleep and laundry.

We took Col’s training wheels off his bike, and after a year on his balance bike (read about this genius, European invention here), Col hopped on his two-wheeler and rode down the street. He rode down the street. He didn’t seem to mind that a certain parent was crying and cheering and leaping around with a camera.

And I don’t know if it’s because Col is my first child or his preemie history, but I get choked up at any moment that smacks of a normal, developmental milestone (we strive high here). Watching Col whip around the church parking lot on our street, I couldn’t help but flash to Col’s NICU days. That doll-sized baby in the volunteer-sewn preemie shirts, open in front to accommodate the sprawl of tubes and wires attached to his mini body; the doctors dodging my desperate inquiries into the likelihood of a 25-weeker turning out “normal.”

Col barely took his helmet off all weekend (which isn’t entirely a bad thing), pleading constantly to ride. We rode to the park, to a friend’s house (up a big hill), and all around the neighborhood. Rose came along for the ride (agreeably pulled in bike trailer) like a handbag we remembered to sling over our shoulder at the last minute. Poor Rose, by the time she’s riding a two-wheeler, Col will be zipping around on a unicycle or something.

It was sweet to see Col’s pride in his achievement. His eyes were as shiny as his black helmet as he dashed around like a fledgling bird on first flight. But he still has a lot to work on, namely, remembering that he’s riding a bike. It’s not unusual for Col to slip 20-feet behind me delivering a thoughtful monologue on how birds and marmots are similar, or veering dangerously close to ramming into my bike because a tiny beetle scurrying across the street caught his eye.


Saturday afternoon, we plucked the kids from their damp, nap-cocoons and deposited them in the mountain-bound Subaru. We brought friends Collin and Tina along as “decoys,” says Dan, but what he really meant is “beloved, childless-friends who might pay the kids some attention.”

Here’s Rosie helping Collin chop some wild mountain parsley:

See how Rosie's steadying Collin's wrists as he cuts?

Here’s that same wild parsley mixed into grilled elk burgers (yes, they were as delicious as they look):

We’re pretty organized when it comes to camping, but on these evening mountain romps (where we return to our own beds) we sometimes forget simple accessories like plates. Collin and Tina didn’t mind eating salad off rocks:

I found this gorgeous indian paintbrush blooming and am wondering if anyone has a name for this color?

electrified pumpkin?

There was a family bow-shoot, because, obviously.

It's Dan turn to shoot in the pre-choreographed scenario: *okay, you're sneaking through the trees and you hear something on your left. You turn, see it's an elk and have to get a shot off immediately.* Also noteworthy is Rose took her first shots without any assistance! Also, Dan would want you to know that we saw a small herd of Mama elk and their newborn calves in the green meadows you can see in this photo.

And this:

can you see the rainbow?


I was in the middle of planting two grape vines and Dan was tanning a deer hide (a supremely stinky process, involving stretching and abrading the thick animal skin for hours after it’s soaked overnight in a mixture of blended deer liver and brains), when our new downstairs roommate arrived for the first time, from Brooklyn.

Gorgeous, putrid-smelling hide, strung up and ready for softening.

I shook the rabbit manure off my hands and showed Karen around, noticing suddenly the stranger flotsam of the collective lives of this property’s inhabitants: an old, matted-hair, deer head in the chicken coop; dried herbs cobwebbing through the downstairs house; antlers every which way; over-caffeinated mother in stained skirt trying desperately to finish planting grapes; naked, dirt smudged children daring each other to “scratch my buttocks.”

It is rumored that Karen called her mom and said “I’m not in Brooklyn anymore.”


We spent the fourth of July at Chimney Rock Archeological Area, participating in interactive, primitive skill demonstrations, which was fantastically fun.

Here’s Dan pounding yucca leaves into ropy fibers:

Making clay pottery with dear friends (and skillful decoys) Jojo and Emily:

And Col’s pictograph, using, er, primitive sharpies:

Col's pictograph story: a man with a feather in his hair hunting deer under the sun and moon with a turtle helper.

We asked the kids if they knew what was celebrated on the 4th of July.

“Fours,” guessed Rose. “Fireworks?” wondered Col.

While the rest of America ate hot dogs and potato salad, Jojo and Emily served up local goat with garden greens, and for dessert: ice cream topped with last year’s foraged and frozen strawberries and cherries. Hanging out with these friends makes me want to drop out of our monetary economy and spend my days roaming the county, picking fruit.

We got the sleep-overdue kids home and to bed just before the fireworks began, which was just as well because they were weary and crabby or as Dan says “not fit for human consumption.” Then, Dan and I laid on the living room rug in the dark and watched the sky pulse with color while the sweetest sounds of sleeping children filtered through the exploding night.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellen permalink
    July 6, 2010 9:54 am

    We loved the post and read it to each other and looked at the pictures over breakfast, instead of silently reading the paper. A great new family ritual.

  2. July 6, 2010 10:18 am

    Yes, this was our 4th too: “…watched the sky pulse with color while the sweetest sounds of sleeping children filtered through the exploding night.”

    Elk burgers sound delicious; as do goat and greens. I’m into game myself, more so than hot dogs. Glad you had a good holiday weekend.

    And the picture of the mountains? I’m so jealous. I need me some mountains. This flat midwestern land is REALLY getting to me.

  3. Melissa permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:52 am

    What would the 4th be without homemade hummus? We didn’t make it to the fireworks, either, but it was just as well because Avi is too excited to nap when we visit Saba and Safta.

    Sounds like a lovely weekend!

  4. July 6, 2010 11:16 am

    That looked like a great way to spend the fourth…beautiful mountain gathering you had there. I think we need to befriend some decoys ourselves.

    I’ll be interested in hearing how the new roommate works out…you’ll have to keep us posted.

  5. July 6, 2010 1:22 pm

    Sounds lovely and exciting (except maybe the putrid hide part)…much nicer than the post-parade all-day candy gorge (Fourth of July=freedom to sink into diabetic coma in these parts). I’d call the paintbrush color a salmony-melony something…”sunset” perhaps?

  6. July 6, 2010 1:38 pm

    “Normal” is a scary word in the NICU, isn’t it? But it becomes a beautiful word when you see a child blossom before your eyes. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  7. July 6, 2010 3:19 pm

    Sounds like it was a wonderful holiday weekend. Col’s pictograph is amazing.

  8. July 6, 2010 4:14 pm

    I would never think to eat off of rocks. So brilliant!

  9. Emily permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:43 pm

    Thanks for celebrating Fours with us! In the Construction of the Universe, four is the birth of the square. It is the flower (1-seed, 2-stem, 3-leaf…). It is the mother substance — three points define a flat surface but it takes a fourth to define depth. There are four people in your family, surely the constructing substance of YOUR universe!

    And I’m glad you got to celebrate Fireworks with Dan ^.*

    Col looks fabulous on a bike!

  10. Emily permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:45 pm

    ps, that’s cool the kids know the word “buttocks” : )

  11. July 6, 2010 8:02 pm

    ahhh…i loved ALLof this. thank you!!!!!



  12. July 6, 2010 9:13 pm

    Well, I’m a Canadian, and I have heard and read many ways of celebrating the 4th of July over the last couple of days…I liked yours the best, I think. Good food, good friends, family and the outdoors…how can it be better? :-)


  13. July 6, 2010 9:33 pm

    I adore the last sentence of this entry. Such a perfect moment. I am so glad I discovered your blog.

  14. Melissa permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:46 am

    Had to come back because I was reflecting on what you said about milestones and C’s preemie birth . . . hells yeah to his robust adventurousness in bike riding!

  15. July 8, 2010 8:35 am

    Oh, your new tenant! That’s hilarious!

  16. July 8, 2010 8:35 am

    oh yeah, too much to comment on but I wanted to add, Congrats Col!!!!

  17. rose permalink
    July 8, 2010 9:13 pm

    You are a delight. I have been away from my usual blog meanderings for a while and have just caught up with you and a few other regular reads. There is just something about you, not sure what it is but seriously, I feel like I should be paying to read your stuff. Brilliant indeed.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      July 9, 2010 2:09 pm

      Ohmygoodness, did you just make my day or what?!

      Thank you for commenting. Sometimes comments like yours are as good as payment.

      XO Rachel

  18. July 9, 2010 4:53 pm

    Your blog is amazing….you and your family doing things others only dream of or read about. My then boyfriend and I had hopes of living a similar life, but it didn’t happen for several reasons. I really enjoy living vicariously through you. PS ~ I have eaten off of rocks before. Cleaned in a mountain stream, they work just fine. :)

  19. Kathy permalink
    July 11, 2010 5:24 am

    The color is the pink of the flesh of a rainbow trout. Now, I’ve had yellow-fleshed trout too.

    “I get choked up at any moment that smacks of a normal, developmental milestone (we strive high here).” I felt the same way, and still do, about our 25 year old daughter with Down syndrome. When the milestones present themselves, we rejoice.

  20. July 12, 2010 11:28 pm

    I need to find a few decoys, I think. Especially ones who come with fresh berries and fun words like “buttocks.” And congrats to Col on his bike-riding prowess, as well as his marmot knowledge and lecturing skills. =>

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