Island Camping

It was my brothers idea and it wasn’t even a bad one. (As his sister I’m required to say stuff like that.)

As kids we had taken many summer trips island camping in the flowages of northern Wisconsin and now that our own kids were all out of the major diaper/nap/crying stages he suggested we do it again.

The weather was rather…

…uncooperative……but it didn’t matter.

There was still fishing…

 

…and canoeing…

 

… and kayaking..

… and games…

… and sand to play in…

…and boats to learn to drive…

 

…and general silliness with cousins…

… and one very happy, very tired, rather stinky dog.

As we packed up on Sunday that brother of mine had another idea.

He said we should do it again next year.

I agreed wholeheartedly.

Because sometimes that brother of mine has really good ideas.


For accuracy’s sake I feel compelled to note that while we started with seven people more family joined us throughout the trip until we numbered 12. I however took more pictures of kids, bumblebees and my dog than anything else and they are all highly underrepresented in photos. Sorry family! 

Cornfields and Clouds

Cornfields and clouds.

The overpowering green, the heat and dripping humidity, the drone of the insects, the clouds’ promise of thunderstorms. – It’s not actually my favorite time of year. I prefer the cool changing colors of fall, the sharpness of winter’s cold and even the new surprises of spring. But, the sight of cornfield and clouds, is one of those images, smells, and sounds, or, in this case, all three that speak of home. Not “home” as in where I grew up or “home” as in where I live now but both and more. Even as I sweat, swat bugs and dream of the first snowfall, a view like this never fails to loosen a part of me.

A breath released that I didn’t know I was holding.

And I feel myself settle into my own skin just a bit further knowing that I am where I belong.

Sometimes John and I talk about moving, when I dream of longer, colder winters and he dreams of surfboards and mountains… …but I’m not sure I could ever truly settle in a place without these cornfields and clouds.

Just a Quick Ten Minute Job

There are small jobs.

There are large jobs.

And, in my family, there are the infamous “ten minute” jobs.

“Ten minute” jobs always – always –  morph into something much larger, more time consuming and gigantic than anyone was expecting. A “Ten Minute” job is the one that ends up taking two trips to a hardware store, and finds problems inside of problems. In my family the words “I just need help on a quick ten minute job” have been met with dread and fear.  I’m not sure why any of us even think it’s possible to do a job in ten minutes. I certainly should have known better…

My dad came to my house with a Kaboda equipped with a winch, a rusty cable, a three-hundred pound lead weight and a plan and told me it would just take ten minutes to get the unwanted willow branch onto the ground.

So deceptively small looking. So very heavy.

…I should have known…

We enacted the plan.

And then there was the part where the 300 pound weight went up in the tree and stayed there instead of coming back down so the old rusty cable could start to cut the branch. More weight was added, different angles were tried…

Hours later the plan was working. We might not have been “sawing” the branch off, but we were certainly “sanding” our way through it.

Look at that sawdust fly!

My dad and I are long on stubborn. The branch was going to come down and with a bit of extra rope and planning…

It did.

Down it comes, nice and slow and just in the right spot!

Five and half hours after we started it was all sawed up  and hauled off.

Around here, as I should have known, that’s just your typical “ten minute” job.

It’s Not Summer Until…

It’s not summer until the catalpa tree blooms.

At least, that’s what my mom told me.

Now, when asked, she doesn’t remember telling me that. Of course she figures since she said it, and since the catalpas do often bloom right around the first day of summer, that it must be true. (That’s my mother for you.)

Mom said, (even if she doesn’t remember) that it’s not the hot days, that getting out of school isn’t the key and that you’ll only know it’s really summer once the catalpas turn white.

As a girl I remember feeling the hot sun, and thinking it must finally be summer, then checking the trees and realizing it hadn’t started quite yet. It was never a disappointment, just a fact. If the catalpas weren’t flowering, it was just a warm spring.  Days of rolling down hills until dark, playing in the lake and catching fireflies were yet to come.

Then when they did bloom – now it was summer. Sometimes we would pick the flowers and string them into necklaces but for the most part I just remember that soft internal sigh, the feeling you get when things click into place and everything makes sense, at least for a time.

The catalpas were blooming.

Summer was back again and with it, no school, no shoes, just the joys of long summer days.

Today, my girls and I were helping out my grandparents for the day and saw the catalpas in full bloom. And even though my summers now come with more duties instead of less, and even though this summer is starting out even crazier and busier than normal, and even though I know the first day of summer isn’t actually until next week, and even though I now know that while my mom remembers braiding catalpa blooms into her horse’s mane and tail as the summery-est activity she can think of and she doesn’t remember imparting this wisdom to me that I have held close all my life…

Despite all of that.

I saw the catalpa trees in bloom today and while my grown-up life tried it’s hardest to throw it’s responsibilities in the way, I still felt the excitement that comes with the start of summer.

The catalpas are blooming!

Let summertime begin!


Well… the catalpas were blooming last week, I did mention this summer is starting off crazy right?

Do you ever wonder what sort of off-hand comment your kids will pick up and hold dear to their hearts forever? I started thinking about it,  and have decided I wouldn’t recommend it.  If you are anything like me, you make a lot of random comments that shouldn’t go down in history as family lore!

Except for the catalpa trees and summer but there is nothing random about that.  

That’s just a fact of life. 

Frog Catching

You know what they say…

Ivy's best frog face

Ivy’s best frog face

Cousins that catch frogs together stay friends forever.

Jane and Natalie catching frogsWhat?

You never heard that?Clara and Gwen catching frogs

Trust me, it’s a thing.

Grab a cousin, or a second cousin, and find some frogs.

Frog catching with the cousins. #frogs #greenfrogs

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What have you got to lose?

Chris and I caught the frogs

That’s duck weed on my cousins forehead and it wasn’t just him, you can’t see my arms and legs but they were smeared with mud too!

You didn’t think the kids caught that whole bucket of frogs did you???

Chris with frog on hat

My cousin the frog whisper-er.

My cousin and I don’t get to see each other much anymore but we had just as much fun catching frogs together as we ever have, even if we do have to share the nets with all our girls!

Lawnmower Limbo

There are no winners in Riding Lawnmower Limbo.
In fact, Riding Lawnmower Limbo isn’t a thing.

No matter how tempting it looks, don’t do it.
When the branches start taunting you, trying to convince you that you can do the whole thing without ever stopping, backing up or getting off, don’t believe them.

The ducks and geese can organize their own orchard limbo. They'll probably do fine so long as they don't learn how to use the lawnmower...

The ducks and geese can organize their own orchard limbo. They’ll probably do fine so long as they don’t learn how to use the lawnmower…

You know why?

Because if you are mowing an area at high speeds (There are totally winners at high speed lawn mowing just so long as you have the reflexes to miss the dead cat!) and you start doing the lawnmower limbo, you will lose. You will lose your sunglasses and your ear muffs and a bunch of skin off your back and the only thing you will gain is a lump on your head for your efforts.
Because it’s the limbo.
And, as everyone knows, when you successfully limbo once, the bar just gets lower and lower and lower – until you bleed.

True story.

Apparently branches make me competitive. I went under this one, you know, the one the dog is walking around...

Apparently branches make me competitive. I went under this one, you know, the one the dog is walking around…

There is no such thing as Riding Lawnmower Limbo.

But if there were, I would totally be a star.

A high speed, bleeding, bruised star…but still a star!