hump day nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words
Every year, as the leaves ignite into bejeweled, brittle, temporary bits, our family joins friends beside a navy blue river.
I’ve written about this October venture before. Maybe even every year since I’ve been sharing at dig. Andy and I have been joining our friends at this holy riverbend for more than a decade. It’s a sacred location, where brown trout hang in herds, the cottonwood’s gold and sun’s warmth flicker in perfect symbiosis.
Usually, it’s our first cold camping trip of the year. The one where we procrastinate leaving the campfire and then do restricted, horizontal jumping jacks inside our sleeping bags to warm the feathered down. This year, it was warm like early September. This year, like every year, was different than the last.
:: Last year, here, we were here with Alice. She was healthy and strong. But, and, I did sense her slowing. She stopped – for the first time ever – during our run up the dirt road we’d run for many years. She died, suddenly, in the middle of the night in my arms, one month later. I miss her so much.
Mabel turned one on Saturday, on her first trip to this place. The whole ending of a life and beginning of another was abundant, brilliant and throbbing. Punctuated by the space we occupied.
:: The campground was more crowded than we’ve ever seen it so we poached a spot by the boat launch into the river. The cons: it wasn’t *technically* a camp site, we were a hundred yards from the bulk of our friends. The pros: away from generators, loads of space for loud, early-rising children, the boat launch spot was infrequently used and the kids loved the shoreline, the fence created the perfect perch, fort and horse.
:: Horse. The “horse” was only understood and appreciated by one very determined cowgirl, Ruby Jane. With the help of our camp clothesline. Side note: the clothesline was taken (right out form under us!) later that day, presumably by a fisherman eager to dry his gear. That line has dried our gear for many years and I trust it will serve him well.
:: Our friend Brad from Earlywood was there and brought his shop scraps for the campfire. All those misshaped spoons and beautiful chunks of broken cutting boards became a imaginary city.
:: I love all four seasons equally. You can’t make me pick one. I really admire the transitions. I love summer for vitamin D, sleeping under the milky way, jumping in rivers, sun-warmed tomatoes, neighborhood lemonade stands, every meal outside. And I am always ready for autumn’s vivid promise: dark morning oatmeal by the stove, thick scarves, visible breath, neon landscape, soup, camping like cocooned caterpillars.
:: Saturday was unseasonably warm and the kids caught minnows and snails, arranged rocks, collected leaves all day. As the sun slipped behind the mountain, they all covered themselves in mud and jumped in the icy cold river fully clothed, forgetting that their shoes would be wet for a long, long time. I appreciated their enthusiasm and spontaneity; I appreciated the raucous force of four kids with an idea that just keeps getting wilder and braver until everyone is under water and feeling the most alive.
I do wish I had a photo but I was too busy laughing and watching and fetching dry things for cold bodies.
:: I have many crisp memories of specific events of activities or words from when I was a child. But more than remembering that time I climbing into the lifeguard chair with my mom, that time I skipped through the zoo with my dad, my grandmother’s pearls dangling while she leaned over dinner on the stove, that wild horse ride with my grandpa — more than the naming of what happened, I remember the feeling. How people and places and adventures made me feel.
:: Proof that I was there.
:: Our little family is so excited for the big opportunity to partner with our locally owned Honda dealership, University Motors. For the next few years, you will see us putting this car to the test around our great state and beyond. So far, our new adventure rig is just perfect for us.
And this car will have the high charge of carrying our crew across the country soon! Having this last weekend away made me excited to keep going. Our family will have more than three weeks of travel and exploration from Montana to New York City and back. The last time I was in New York my boyfriend proposed to me in a museum…
When we get home, the first snow will have already flown. The garden tucked in, the heat on, the trees bare, the days shorter. I have no idea what the trip will be like. I am excited for the things we have planned. But I am even more excited for the things we don’t have planned. Those little gifts that tuck themselves into the open-ended pockets of a day. Yes, I love those.