We're just home from a blissful stretch of time in the woods, deep in DownEast Maine. It's my family's home away from home, where we go every year, where I've gone every year since I was a child too. It's a place that means such a great deal to me - to all of us now. Always a marker of time, this place and our presence there. To Adelaide this week, I recounted how I once spent a month there as a twelve year old, when there was no cabin but we simply tented for the stretch of time, seeing no one, and yet, I put on jewelry and makeup each morning because that's what mattered to my twelve year old self (she did no such silly thing as this, I should mention). And I told Calvin, for likely the millionth time about how one time, when we were still building the cabin that we sleep in today, he (one year old) and I spent a night in a tent by the lake while wild thunderstorms raged overhead, him sleeping soundly through the night while I was terrified, but breastfed him constantly to keep him asleep amidst the inch of rain that accumulated as the night wore one (though of course, with time, the story becomes that it was a hurricane, and six inches of rain).
It's the place where my kids have learned how to swim. Of course there have been swimming lessons, and we live near the water so it's not infrequent for us to find ourselves near a body of water at the end of the day....but there is nothing like spending all day long at your lake, making gigantic strides in progress. This week, I watched Harper perfect his breaststroke (and stop splashing so much), and Ani ditch her floaties for underwater swimming. A whole summer of swimming, and then a week here, and voila! It's amazing to watch.
This year, like every other, the changes in our family were ever so present as we stepped foot into this timeless and constant place of ours that seems to serve as a mirror of what we've got going on. This week, we were down a child (Ezra is at summer camp), and up another young adult (Calvin's girlfriend joined us). Bittersweet, all of that. There was less campfire singing without Ez. And there was more telling of camp stories with Calvin and his sweetheart, a new era of camp life being shared, new stories made. And it was a funky week in other ways too - I started the week out with a sting and subsequent infection that landed me in Urgent Care for a quick dose of way more medication than I wanted to be on vacation with (prednisone, my sometimes savior but also curse, is such a bloating, yucky thing...I struggle to look at that photo above and be kind to myself, but I share it because I love those people so much). And the whole trip ended with car trouble (oh, teenagers) that meant we left a car deep in the woods in a state of repair, to be retrieved at some later date, and we all left camp a day early as a result. Oh! Life! Growing families! Change!
As a result, we find ourselves home a little earlier than expected. Disappointed, a little bit. But also full of a whole lot. Full of the goodness of our time together, of the connect we felt there when disconnected from everything else, and of the commitment and promise we make to one another to be certain, absolutely certain, that despite changing family times and growing up, we make the time - and then even more time - for the connections that matter most of all. The woods. The water. Each other. This is what matters most of all.