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Homestead happenings: microcosm

June 20, 2011

Col’s got this new thing, it’s like the conversational equivalent of clearing your throat.

“Mama, I think this is true, but I don’t know if it’s really true. Because I was remembering it when I was waking up this morning but I can’t remember if Chris Chambers really said it, or if I just thought about it.”

Turns out Col was talking about how our friend Chris once told Col that he never had a cavity.

Col’s like a baseball pitcher winding up for an epic pitch, and winding and winding and winding. This morning over breakfast, Col said, “Mama, this is sort of a funny story that I’m going to tell you, but I think you already know about it, because maybe you told it to me. Did you?”

And really what this means—besides the fact that listening to Col has become sort of like an NPR fund-drive, where you can turn off the radio, shop for an entire week’s worth of groceries, come back to your car, turn the radio back on, and not really have missed anything—is that Col is no longer a jumbled connection of instinct and impulse, you know, the Frankenstein-ian toddler chasing after shiny, loud things. He’s lying in bed sifting thoughts around in his mind.

Col’s mind is so much like Dan’s, so forgiving and genuinely nice. When Rose says to Col, “look Col! I have more grapes than you!” Col will calmly say, “Rosie, it feels like you’re teasing me,” which instantly bursts the bubble Rose is blowing with the hot breath of sibling rivalry. It reminds me of how recently Dan and I were lying in bed together and I apologized for being short with him on the phone earlier in the day. “Huh, I don’t remember that,” he said jovially and pulled me closer to him.

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

We had a fantastic camping trip last weekend. We spent three days here, on the banks of  the upper Dolores river.

Dan - the human ferry, toting kids across the river. ps: what we call a river here in the west might be more like what you call a creek.

There were hardly enough eyes to keep track of Col, who was magnetized to the river as if it contained some mystical code he was on the verge of cracking. It was like living inside a DIY physics experiment masterminded by a 6-year old: matter (sticks) + velocity (moving water) = Col’s entire life for three days. He made all manner of rafts to sail down our little stretch of water: wide, flat pieces of bark with feather sails, layers of sticks cradled in enormous green gentian leaves, slabs of aspen firewood with his stuffed seal (“Sealy”) rubber-banded to the deck.

We really didn’t roam more than a square mile from camp. It was almost like a spiritual practice—something the Buddha could have cooked up for wayward monks—staying put for three days in the absence of distraction or busyness, watching the tide of my own restlessness and longing and loneliness arise and then recede.

And the kids, bless their wild hearts, they’ve never known boredom, or the way restlessness and longing can scour your insides, leaving you empty and ragged like the shed skin of a grasshopper. They completely inhabited the microcosm of camp life, each moment leading seamlessly to the next.

They found abandoned robin’s nests.

And eggs too.

They napped in the midday sun with the wind rocking them to sleep.

This might be my new favorite picture of Rose, asleep on my air mattress, which I hope I never have to camp without again.

They crossed creeks.

And fished with Dan’s flies, getting their first nibbles from curious brook trout.

Neither kid was quite coordinated enough to set the hook and reel in the fish fast enough, but I can tell it’s only a matter of time before they’re feeding us.

Dan caught a few trout and we panfried them in butter and they were so light and flaky and buttery it was like eating a fish-croissant.

gutting a brook trout

We found snow for the beer cooler!

And now we’re home, harvesting the first snap peas and strawberries and reveling in all the bounties of June.



23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2011 8:36 am

    Sometimes our lives are so uniquely paralleled… it’s eerie. We just returned from camping too! Yes, we were at a river, and it was lovely. I can’t believe your kids still nap! I am admittedly jealous! :)

  2. June 22, 2011 8:51 am

    Wow–the snow! I’d never seen snow in a beer cooler until moving to Montreal; it’s genius.

    Your whole trip looks so lovely. I really, really want to take my little chicks camping. I wonder if I’m brave enough to do it myself this summer? Is that an insane proposition?

    • June 22, 2011 8:54 am

      PS I also wonder why I put a question mark at the end of statement. Mistakes like that make my skin crawl.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 23, 2011 10:02 am

      My friend Claire is a single Mama of two and has been taking her kids camping for years. She’s kind of a superhero Mama – but all you single moms are. Maybe you could meet up with another family to distribute the work load a little.

  3. June 22, 2011 9:11 am

    It all sounds beautiful – but really, I am most heartened by the fact that you camp with an air mattress. I feel much more legitimate now. Can’t imagine going back to a thermarest.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 23, 2011 10:08 am

      Susan, I know. Dan and I talk about backpacking again and it *sounds* really good except for the hauling everything on your back and sleeping on the ground and rationing out dry food and no frosty beverages.

  4. Kathy permalink
    June 22, 2011 9:22 am

    Please adopt me. What rich lives you lead.
    I fight the gulls for space in the grocery store parking lot. I smile at people in the grocery store who frown at me. I come home and a back hoe is digging in my neighbor’s yard along the street AGAIN, near the water lines for the neighborhood. I sit outside in 85 degree weather with 85% humidity on a rain-soaked chair (not so bad, the rain, I know). I hear the A/C grind away, muffling the birdsong I might enjoy through the closed window near my computer.
    But I will be in your neck of the woods June 30 through to the next Saturday. With Trish in Marvel, in the melodies of the farmyard, hobnobbing with genealogists and writers, and sifting through old county books. Would a visit be in order?

  5. June 22, 2011 9:58 am

    That moment where impulse gets left by the wayside and the thoughts churn and are processed is bittersweet. I kinda miss the impulse stuff. I’m grateful for kids that can think things through and present their case or how they reached a conclusion but there is something so magical about the of the moment blurts too ;-)

  6. Ellen permalink
    June 22, 2011 10:28 am

    How nurturing for everybody to spend all that wild, unstructured time on the river! You are lucky to have those breaks be part of your lives, rather than a long-planned for once-a-year hiatus, involving lots of driving.

    And if Col keeps not reacting to Rosie’s envious jabs, perhaps she can relax and stop counting grapes and other goodies.

  7. Melissa permalink
    June 22, 2011 11:15 am

    Another gorgeous, gorgeous piece.

    I love that photo of Rose, too . . .

    PS. I took the kids to the West Berkeley pool yesterday and it was so awesome. . .Avi kept exclaiming, “I love you soooo much!” as he splashed around and held his own with a 7 year old Russian kid (who had his own endless stream of things to say–I swear, I have Social Worker tattooed on my forehead for all the kids who zoom in on me and go, “look at me! watch me!” it’s kind of crazy). Back to work today and missing them so much!

  8. June 22, 2011 11:15 am

    “Rosie, it feels like you’re teasing me” — ha! ha! ha!

    Col seems to be far calmer — and wiser — than I.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 23, 2011 10:10 am

      Rachael, me too. I’m hoping I can learn from my 6 year old son.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    June 22, 2011 12:36 pm


  10. Cousin Barb permalink
    June 22, 2011 12:37 pm

    Poohsticks Reposting since i think it didn’t take the first time cuz i forgot the email. Have a terrific visit with all the rels! Wish I was there.

  11. linda permalink
    June 22, 2011 7:50 pm

    Camping with an air mattress is heaven! I’ll never go back.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful time outside that included everything you could possibly want or need.

  12. Nancy permalink
    June 22, 2011 9:43 pm

    Reading your blog is like being immersed in a favorite novel – snuggling in for another few paragraphs of touching moments. The best thing is that the ‘book’ never has a library ‘due date’ – so can be enjoyed and savored in bite size pieces…..ahhh keep it up please!

  13. June 23, 2011 10:32 am

    What a wonderful life those children are having …You bothl make wonderful parents, teaching and loving..:o)..

  14. June 23, 2011 1:34 pm

    i am madly in love with your beautiful boy! can we come camping and follow his lovely brain around for a day or two?

  15. June 23, 2011 4:26 pm

    Are you going camping *every* weekend? I can’t wait for that. Have to finish this friggin house first, though.

    Col’s mind blows me away. Why wasn’t *I* ever that smart?

    Brook trout truly are the croissants of the salmonoids.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 23, 2011 10:11 pm

      Every other weekend :)

  16. abozza permalink
    June 26, 2011 6:56 am

    I think Kathy said it best. What rich lives you lead. Sounds like heaven!

  17. June 28, 2011 11:41 am

    I simply could not camp without an air mattress anymore, although I swear ours releases air every time we camp, no matter how many times we fix it. I love the snow in the cooler, that is one of the joys of early summer camping in Colorado :). Natural ice.


  1. 6512 and Growing « My Real Life

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