Spring Break. I barely remember it growing up. It seemed way longer than a week. I remember high school spring break and let me declare this here: my daughters will not be going anywhere during a spring break without me. Spring break in college was merely a week I could work full time. And then here I am now with spring break again as a mama with a daughter in part-time preschool.
Our friends talk about plans, many head south to Utah in search of sun and warmth. Some head to the big northwest coastal cities. Others have grand cross-country plans. Us? It always seems to come out of nowhere. Like, the week before I re-remember that there is no school the following week and I scramble to get work done so I can be with my kin for an undistracted week.
Going somewhere away wasn’t an option for our family as we have a big ol’ adventures coming up like a just-decided-upon weekend in Portland with family next week and then two whole weeks in the southeast at the beginning of May. My little brother is getting married on a Florida beach. Just writing that sentence makes me grin with stinging eyes. We fly into New Orleans where we will stay for a few days (we just learned yesterday that we will be there during Jazz Fest?!) and then drive east to Florida for wedding extravaganza in the north followed by travel south to Naples to see my friend Kelle and her family. Please tell me if there is anything we must see or do between New Orleans-Destin-Naples.
Anyway, last week. The girls and I stayed at our friends’ cabin for three days. Andy followed us down the valley and then up the insanely steep pitch to help us settle. After we hiked all our gear in, ate a late dinner and cleaned up mouse carnage it was late and Andy wound up staying the night. I was grateful to have one less pitch black morning where I had to fire up the generator while imagining mountain lions perched in every tree above me. Also, I was grateful to have him around because I like him.
He took off very early and then it was just us.
We hiked and walked all day for two days, returning to the cabin for nourishment, fairy house building, Candyland and snuggling. There were so many moments where I thought about my Montana homesteading ancestors, where I meditated on this — this simple, connected existence — as the essential reason for being. We had so much fun. All day every day. Doing chores, sitting, staring, holding hands, looking up, looking down. At the end of the first day, Ruby wrapped her palms around my one fist and pressed the her forearms to her heart, our hands to her chin. She said I love you SO much mama. It’s certainly something I hear regularly from her but on this occasion, our connected bodies locked into an energy circuit that could light the moon.
Speaking of energy. We’ve stayed at this cabin many times and I’ve avoided the generator. It’s down a steep, dark incline that is really steep and dark. There’s a mountain lion den just below that is now supposedly vacant but the image of that giant cat is tattooed on my brain. Sometimes the cord is finicky. Sometimes the reserve tank siphon doesn’t work. I’ve never paid much attention because that wasn’t my job. I have my camp roles, Andy has his. Him: make fire. Me: Sit by fire. Same with home. Him: pay bills, clean range top, vacuum, build stuff. Me: animal care, food shopping, laundry, arrange stuff.
He taught me all about the generator. Being without power doesn’t freak me out at all but there’s something about that generator that makes me tense. It’s the troubleshooting I think. There is always so much discussion about hoses and lines and switches. So. I’ll cut right to it: we made friends, the generator and me. I troubleshot! And won.
Also, I made fire. AND sat by it.
And, I drove back down that freaky road without help. BAM.
Elemental and harmonious. When thinking of our trip, those are the words that lap against the shore of my soul.
The simplicity of washing dishes and washing bodies with tiny portions of water.
The luxury of nothing to do.
The beauty of just being together.
The bliss of watching, listening. For hours.
The coziness and ease of life in one room.
Alice found four deer legs and at least 37 sticks, each better than the last.
Two girlfriends and their kids joined us on the last day and night. Again, I thought about those days not so long ago when commune and coparenting weren’t so much words as they were the way life worked. The kids hopped from rock to rock returning to us every so often with a concern or issue. They were always hungry. We took turns listening and guiding, took turns preparing food.
Since we’ve been home, Margot and Ruby have been more argumentative than usual. I believe our mountaintop retreat was a relief to my kids. It was to me too. There was no stuff to worry about. Even in our home where we work to create schedules and rooms with plenty of space, we still have lots of stuff. I am always enamored with my daughters’ creativity but especially so when we camp, hike, get out.
The landscapes rolls away from our bodies like sun rays, able to reach and warm every creature, every everything without prejudice.
The stuff there is transient and precious because it is fleeting and has no owner. Nothing to possess, everything to share and care for.
It was a wonderful week and now I am back to my computer, my sewing machine, my household chores. But with all the responsibilities, I’m hanging on to that feeling of supreme, open peace. It’s always there for us. Yes.