Tag Archiv: vacation

Boats, songs, and sails

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It is summer here and I have boats on the mind. We returned recently from the land of canoes, kayaks, and other water craft. Boy one spent the first day of and a half of vacation making a plug to fill the hole of an old rowboat. He cleaned it out and attached a small motor he found. The row boat’s plug was not perfect but only a little ongoing bailing seemed necessary to keep things ship shape. His triumph culminated in a solo trip with his brother to unknown places. There they discovered a waterfall, a swimming hole, and a burning desire for more adventures of the same.

On a summer evening mid July I was singing. Kids waited for the story to unfold, laughing as another woman and I sang every verse of “There’s a hole in my bucket.” Since then my head has been visited going on weeks now with the recurring choruses. There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza . . . With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza.

I share Henry’s bewilderment. Buckets in need of repair are tricky. Effective possible remedies are difficult to come by.

I picture the rowboat and know that I too am a boat that requires bailing. There is a hole in the boat, I have said quietly now to a few friends.

One night we sang campfire songs in the living room around a pile of red pillows because it was too windy outside for a real fire. This is the song that never ends sang the kids again and again. For the uninitiated, there are three more lines in the song which then circle back to the beginning whereby you sing with increasing gusto, this is the song that never ends! Kids love the song inversely proportional to how much other people hate it. The quickest and most bearable way out (which is still not that quick) is to sing along and pretend to like it.

Recapping, there’s a hole in my bucket, a song that never ends, a rowboat with a homemade plug, and me the boat with a hole. Or two.

Mulling it all over on a walk at home, I remembered another very windy vacation day. With much enthusiasm two kids gathered materials: sticks, hammer, nail, duct tape, pillow case, white garbage bags. Two models of a sail emerged and out into the bay they went. With one sitting on a blow up raft and another on a blow up yellow tube, they held up sails to catch the wind. Over and over they went, changing the angle of the sail, trying new starting points, stopping to take the sails apart and revamp with new materials. Twice, for thirty seconds of so, they were able to sail side by side. The last sail began with a laborious swim to drag sail and raft as far from shore as possible. An impressively long sail followed, steered with great pride to the precise corner of the dock.

We bail our leaking boats at times with a bit of discouragement. Will the bailing never end? Can anything be done about the holes? Seemingly ignoring the questions, the wind blows lightly. Only enough to tickle our ears. We remember that unannounced and arriving on a schedule quite its own, wind also comes with a mighty will across the water. When it does, from almost nothing, sails can be made.

Today the tiniest of breezes, and it is true that for now, we bail. But not without hope of wind and sails.








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The children have taken to telling everyone that we had three vacations this summer.  There never seems to be a way to explain my side of it. The first, “vacation,” was a weekend invitation to a friend’s cottage. We left earlier than planned in order to get to the hospital and brush up on appendicitis facts, but prior to that it was quite wonderful. The second, “vacation,” was a once in a lifetime week by a lake with family, an hour from home. Cousins, the chief excitement of my children’s world, were present. But my husband was still working. There were 14 people to feed. Our calf was sick part of the time. Trips had to be made home, vets called, and well . . . I loved seeing my family, I just couldn’t say it was restful.  Which brings us to, “number three.”  This was the real kind . . . with my husband, six hours AWAY from the farm and all its potential needs.

For the record, we did not have three vacations! If we had, I imagine I would be rested. Instead, I watch the clock longingly until school comes tomorrow to take the rest robbers away. People with three vacations are rich. We are not rich.

Except we are and I know better. Forget clothes and food, we go to school, drive cars, spend money on things that might not pan out, quit things because we don’t like them. My husband pays for a cook (me), maid (also me), chauffeur (me), and tutor (still me) for the children. Since I don’t worry about getting fired, I also spend quite a bit of time writing. Lots of people we know have more than we do, but it is a matter of degrees. From a global perspective, we live solidly on the rungs of the rich ladder.

Light broke through this weekend though. Girl two is about to be a first grader. That got me thinking about me in grade one. Six years old for me was a bad year. A lot of things went terribly wrong. Girl two, bouncing up and down happy, turns six today. The comparison has me profoundly to my bones, grateful. The brokenness I came from is not her inheritance. She doesn’t know a thing about it.

I am thinking about that. About being rich. So rich I can’t keep track of everything. I wake up to discover stocks grown wildly that I hadn’t checked in ages. Investments I’d forgotten I even had.

My husband is hoping to take the kids camping for a weekend soon. I’m thinking maybe they can stop telling people how many vacations we have and just say we’re so rich we basically live on vacation.

But seriously. Some days I can’t believe it. My kids are really happy people. For real. How rich is that?


Gifts of last week


Listening to a loon call with increasing intensity, then swim in circles looking while a grinning Boy two called back.

Seeing a pregnant rattlesnake in her natural habitat. The man hired by the parks to monitor the health of the rattlesnake population, happened to be taking his walk ahead of us.

Listening to the rattle of the younger snake he had caught for tagging and seeing it without being in danger.

Watching Boy one learn to drive a putt putt

An all family adventure day of canoeing, portaging, swimming, exploring and picnic

Watching Boy one determined to carry one of the canoes solo for the longest leg of our portage

Watching Girl one put two and two together in a New York minute. I had said that fishing was fine, but anything caught and kept was to be eaten, period. In a row boat with the others, she was working on her casting. She cast the line that Boy two took and reeled in. By the time it made it to the boat, there was a 12 inch bass on the other end. Long before we heard there was a fish, we heard Girl one running up the path and shouting. “It wasn’t me. I wasn’t fishing. I didn’t cast it. It wasn’t me.” She calmed only when I explained that casting was not considered catching and in fact, she did not have to eat the fish.

Watching Girl one scamper to the beach to work on her J stroke. I don’t have one myself, but the kids are getting trained up proper compliments of Nana.

Cooking with another woman and dear friend. Chopping and chatting.

A furious paddle in kayaks with my husband, each of us carting a garbage bag, trying to reach the dump and get back before the thunder in the distance moved in for the afternoon. Dawdling on the way back with mission accomplished and then the rain just starting within sight of the dock.

Playing cards at night with boys up past their bedtimes

Watching Girl two tear off to get her swim suit on for the third or fourth time in a day, turn half fish, and leap giggling into the water.

Taking a soggy, cold Girl two up onto my dry lap for warming up

Long car rides with alternately silly and grumpy kids

Time together with nothing else to do

Reading with the girls . . .

Down time



Despite the camera we forgot at home, we are enjoying our annual summer retreat, where we go far enough away to not know how things are going at home. It’s a good time to be together, to pull back in the quiet and look at things right side up and upside down, to enjoy good food, and to laugh together. The quote that has me smiling the most at the moment came from Boy two. Heading out for a canoe, portage, picnic trip, he stole his sister’s hat and refused to give it back. Climbing into his canoe, proudly wearing a pink plaid hat, his bow legged, small for his age, 10 year old self announced, “today you may call me by my true name: The Eternal Sexiness.”