The summer that wasn't

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer is my absolute favorite season of all.  I love everything about it::  The sunshine.  The longer days.  The spectacular sunsets.  The warm evenings.  The laid back feeling. No school. No schedules. My fondest memories have usually occurred during the months of June, July and August. Not this year.

Summer of 2014 will go down in the weather record books as one of the sunniest, warmest, driest seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Those of us who call this region home live for these ten weeks of the year.  And when the weather is superb, it spurs us on to endure the 6 months of gray skies that arrive in November. Unfortunately, try as I might, I found myself looking at the calendar in late July, realizing it was almost August and wondering why I was in such a funk.  I shared my confusion with my mentor who has the ability to take any situation and put it into words in the most poetic, profound and encouraging manner.  Her response made so much sense. She recalled the summer days when her daughters were in high school and rarely spending their days at home. Suddenly, they had jobs, boyfriends and a typical teenage social life that ranked higher than hanging out with Mom. She told me how she remembers being in the same emotional state I was describing to her.  "I was home and available to my girls making sure they had what they needed to go off on their adventures but I was no longer going with them.  We weren't having any fun together and I had lost my buddies."  I knew exactly what she meant! The past 16 summers have been full of countless family adventures from camping to road trips to lazy days at the lake.  Every year we planned something all of us would look forward to even if there were some individual trips mixed into those three months. This year was the summer of the boys going on their own adventures but the way it played out resulted in those trips overlapping each other and our family going 5 weeks with at least one of us gone. It really took its toll on my heart as a mom.  It felt like 5 separate lives were being lived under the same roof with very little interaction.  The disconnection was sobering.

Adding to the mix was Trey's summer travel schedule that resulted in his absence for 3 out of 4 weeks from late July to mid August.  And, of course, everytime he was flying through the skies a crises ranging from the cat being hit by a car to the dryer breaking to flat tires reared its ugly head. I grew weary of holding down the fort and making decisions alone.  However, it wasn't all as depressing as my rendition of the story is making it out to be.  I did have some sunny spots that broke through the clouds of single motherhood. During each one of the solo parenting weeks, a friend visited from far away that I hadn't seen in a while.  And I never get visitors.  In July, Ashley was here from Rochester, Kristy came from Denver.  The first two weekends of August found me hiking, biking and drinking in wonderful, soul-filling conversation with my dear friend, Ashlee followed by Amber coming from Austin the following weekend and offering more of that same great connection. I know these visits wouldn't have been as sweet if they were competing with 4 boys in the house.

On August 17, Trey finally returned and all 5 of us were under one roof.  As excited as I was for this, it kind of felt like showing up at your high school reunion and wondering "who are you?" But, time was of the essence as I knew we had 36 hours before high school football practice started. The following morning we packed up 2 cars, all our camping gear and Millie and headed for the hills.  So to speak.  I was desperate for some connection with everyone unplugged before the craziness of the school year was upon us.  We went just 40 miles away to our favorite rustic, primitive campsite on the river.  It was unoccupied as if to say, "I've been waiting for all of you."

We set up camp and jumped in Ian's jeep and meandered up the mountain to a glorious hike ending in a pristine glacier fed lake.  The boys all took turns documenting each other jumping in and decided their dives counted as taking part in the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" due to the freezing temperature of the water.  Of course, I didn't want to lug my camera on the hike so I have no documentation myself but I did snap a bunch of photos throughout the 24 hours.  We played in the river, feasted on our traditional campside dinner of barbecue chicken thighs, corn on the cob and watermelon, roasted marshmallows and reminisced about all the camping trips over the years. It was positively glorious.
Some seasons you just have to take what you can get.

While I never want to repeat many parts of summer 2014, I will let my final memory spur me into a school year of many lasts and treasure every single one of them knowing it will be June again before I know it.