On the last day of school, as the hours were closing and I was dreaming about sleeping in past 5:30 in the morning, my son’s Earth Science teacher (and a good friend of mine) visited me.
In her hands was a macrame chain with fifteen UV beads strung through the laces; her environmental science students had heard about my upcoming hike on the AT. And, using her lessons on macrame, they made me a…bracelet? necklace? chain? to take on my hike.
I counted the beads as my friend told me about the nature of UV beads. Together, we went to the window and, in spite of the overcast clouds and gloomy nature of the sky, several of the beads shifted to a light pink. The magic was working.
Yes, I know that it’s science and, in honor of Bill Nye, “Science Rules!” But, sometimes, it’s just a little fun to throw in the word magic and let the concept last despite the fact that “Science Rules!” Science might be amazing, but Harry Potter and Gandalf can still kick Bill Nye’s butt while fighting a balrog.
Friday afternoon, after the sky broke and the clouds ripped to shreds, Pat and I went to Dick’s sporting goods. Pat had noticed the kayaks were on sale and was interested in me talking him out of buying one because….1. when would he have time to use it? 2. No one would be interested in going kayaking with him. 3. It’s too much money.
But, lo and behold, somehow time can be found, especially at the opening of the summer. And the person who was more than interested in kayaking with him was me. Because two years ago, he took me kayaking with the boy scouts and I discovered not only was I pretty good at kayaking (minus any real needs to be technical because we were on a flat and still lake that posed no need to be smart) but I also loved being out on the water in a kayak.
Money? Turns out the kayaks were, indeed, on sale. And they weren’t exorbitantly expensive so long as we were willing to settle on second best…or the upper tier of third best. Which is fine. We aren’t kayak aficionados and we weren’t looking at going out into the wild blue yonder of white water rafting (maybe I should change my wording to wild white yonder?? Nah…too much time and effort). We were looking at going out on the lakes in our area, maybe the river when it’s not at flood stage, and just paddling around, maybe bringing a fishing line.
Saturday morning, Pat and I chugged down our coffee and ran out to the car and drove to one of the local parks which had a public boat launch onto the river. Once I overcame my fear that I really wasn’t good at getting into a standard kayak (it’s quite a bit different from my dad’s sea kayak), we shoved off, went across the channel, and started exploring one of the lesser traveled tributaries.
We would paddle for some time, and then, in one accord, one of us would stop and the other would bring our kayak along side the other. Whoever had stopped first would reach out and hold the other’s kayak alongside our own, and for a couple of minutes, we floated, peacefully, holding on to each other’s boats so that we could float together.
In this suspended oasis, we talked or looked at the burgeoning forest on the river’s edge. We talked about where we would want to go kayaking. We talked about retirement (Pat really wants me to retire from teaching and find a new job so that I can start building my second retirement account). We talked about moving to a new home, to a new county, to a new state.
We talked about our pasts and our present and our futures. We talked about how we are still entwined around one another’s lives despite the fact that we don’t see one another as often as we liked. We talked about the pervasive peace that was broken only by the sound of a motor boat in the larger channel adjacent to our own.
Several hours slipped away and we eventually turned around and returned to the car. Our kids were home, alone, and likely either fretting about out absence or exulting in free access to sugar and television. The heat of the day was approaching and Pat burns quickly in spite of 70 spf sun block and large sun hats.
Together, we paddled back to the landing. Together, we hauled our boats out of the water and lugged them up the small, steep hill to his car. Together, we loaded the boats on to the rack and then tied them down.
As we returned home, I told Pat about my friend and the gift she and her class made for me. I thought long and hard about what it meant, this idea of taking the students, even in a peripheral way, on adventures and journeys with me.
Sitting here in my home, on my second official day of summer, I can feel this pressure of time sliding sideways away from. Every summer begins this way, this sense of impermanence, that if I don’t do something spectacular now I will forever miss the opportunity to have done much of anything.
Pat, the kids, and I cleaned the porch Sunday. He and I painted it yesterday. I was going to put a second coat on it today but the heat, humidity, and early morning storms were enough to make me pause. Tomorrow is a good day for second coats.
Tomorrow is a good day to finish that project.
Today? I sat in my daughter’s window and stripped off paint. Yesterday, she and I took a seven mile walk that just happened to take us to Panera where we shared a cinnamon bun (come on….seven miles? We earned that treat). And on our walk home, she and I determined that we were going to make Friday “Mountain Day.” Fridays, we will travel out and go hiking. And I’ll bring my UV bead chain, hook it to my keychain which is on a carabiner.
The summer is here. For the last couple of days, once the sun has set and my body has started surrendering to the lingering fatigue, I have curled up in my bed, turned on NPR which plays jazz in the evenings, and read. I am over halfway done with Cloud Atlas.
Two weeks ago, even though it wasn’t during summer vacation but I count them since I was already mentally checking out (and I was pretty much done with everything), I had read The Nightingale and The City of Mirrors.
I am living in world of bursting adventure, projects that have long sat incomplete but are now being finished, books and jazz music, coloring books that have no limits, novels that are being taken through one more journey of editing, and a 15-bead UV macrame chain.
My path of life is filled with tiny side trails….and I’m going to step down each of them and see what colors the beads will turn next.
Adventure number 1? Kayaking? Check.