As the summer shifts to fall, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments of the Summer.
11 years ago my parents packed up a few crates of personal belongings, sold our childhood home, and moved from Louisiana to Costa Rica. At that time I was traveling around Central and South America so I greeted them as they arrived to their new life in the tropics. Adjacent to their rented house was a beautiful property, land that had been farmed for the past 10 years with crops of maize and black beans. Prior to that, the land had been used as pasture for cattle. Before that, based on nearby archeological finds, it was likely part of the site of a small indigenous village. I walked that land with my dad as we started imagining their new home. Using principles from Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language” and with the specifications of the ADA accessibility standards, they made an amazing new home. My mother, who has had Multiple Sclerosis for 25 years, loves this house. The extensive network of enables her to explore the lush gardens that my dad has planted. The downside to all this beauty is that we don’t get to see them as much as we would like to. Our summer started with a family trip down to Costa Rica so my folks could meet Honeyman (my younger son). It was really a special time. AJ (my older son) regularly talks about going to visit the Bombero (Fireman) in Costa Rica. He also learned to care for Rosie the pig and the baby chicks, “Tomorrow” and “After.” “After” died, which was AJ’s first experience with death. As for Honeyman, he gave some serious, much needed snuggles to his grandparents. If you want to learn more about my parents’ ex-pat life, check out my dad’s online magazine: Neotropica.
In July we took a family trip to the Pacific Northwest. Traveling with two young kids was by no means easy, but we planned an itinerary that was family centered. While we moved around quite a bit, at each given stop we took it slow and were not overly ambitious. We have friends sprinkled along the coast that we stayed with and shared meals with. Our first stop was Eugene Oregon where we auspiciously started the trip with a day at the Oregon Country Fair. I had no idea how special this gathering was going to be. We met unicorns, dragons, and wolves. There were kids on stilts, musicians, artists, and amazing food. The booths were all permanent structures with a feeling of mythical wooden tree houses. It was part stepping through time, part stepping through the looking glass. We will definitely be going back.
This trip through the North West brought us to Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver. From the northern part of Vancouver Island we took a small ferry to Lasqueti Isand. This is a magical place. The island, which is about the size of Manhattan, has approximately five hundred year round residents and many more come for the summer. There is no car ferry to this island, so there is almost no tourist infrastructure. We arrived on the small ferry to the weekly community market. We ate homemade donuts and enjoyed all of the art stands selling things like hand-made animal pelt fanny packs. The kids area included a big wooden jungle gym and a cob club house. When AJ arrived, the kids all stopped playing and stared. One little girl asked, “Who are you? We haven't seen you before.” This energetic and somewhat feral pack of kids seemed to be tough and adventurous for living on an island that is totally off the grid. The local electricity comes from micro-hydro systems (often custom made) and many solar configurations. For water, some use rainwater catchment, some have a well. Our hosts were very gracious. They have been coming for the summers since the seventies. Like many people there, they built their home over a number of years. One day while the kids were napping, I read through a book on the history of the island. It was fascinating, full of personal stories of families that settled through time, tragic accidents, and generational gossip. These stories filled my imagination as we walked through the green mossy woods. For the kids, these woods inspired talk of fairies and monsters and...sheep. Sheep were introduced to the island and with no predators these now wild sheep travel in large herds through the woods. Their stampede would be followed by a gust of lanolin wind. It was hard to resist the urge to chase them with sheers and cut off those heavy woolen dreads. After three days, we took the small ferry back to Vancouver Island, then a larger ferry to the city of Vancouver.
It is an understatement to say traveling with kids is hard. They have so much energy and the confined space of cars and planes can be painful for all of us. We decided for this trip to the Northwest to try out taking trains between cities. Although the stretches of time are a bit long, the constantly changing landscape, the extra space and the option to walk between cars made this part of our trip a memorable. Sean and I loved seeing the country. There is something about staring out of a window of train that provokes nostalgia.
Being married to a musician, music is a priority in our home. Going to concerts in the summer is something that we aim to do a lot of. This summer, our biggest shows included Paul Simon at the Greek, Ben Harper at the Fox, Sean Hayes at the Novato Hop Monk.
Something I am thankful for are all of the great nearby kid oriented places that are also fun for parents. This summer we frequented the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fairyland, Adventure Playground, and Little Farm. Any of these can easily take ½ the day, which is time not wasted indoors.
My good friend Catherine visited from Berlin. Catherine and I first met in grad school at NYU. The last time I had seen her was my wedding five years ago. She and her boyfriend rolled through for a few days on their way to Burning Man. Reconnecting with an old friend was a highlight of summer.
I love being a mom to these two boys, but, as many parents report, the experience can estrange us from meaningful engagement with other adults. Sometimes I feel so distant from making creative choices outside of my role as mother. Starting this blog with Casey has already helped to reintegrate creativity into my daily life. I am grateful for that. One month of blogging already!