Not home for a visit or home to live solo in my parents’ basement or even home while we are between houses.
No, I have gone home for the summer with John at my side trailing a whirlwind of kids, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, pigeons, geese, finches, Louie the dove and that one damn turkey I can’t seem to get rid of.
We have arrived at the farmhouse that’s been in the family since 1913, filled it to the gills with boxes, noise and chaos that this old place may have never seen the like of. The plants are spilling out the doors. The kids are running wild down the hill and up the next to my childhood home to see their grandparents. The grandparents are doing an admiral job of continuing to smile as we carve out spaces for ourselves in amongst their things and upset anything like order that used to be here.
We will spend the summer helping around the farm, swimming in the lake and waving as my parents go spend some time on much needed vacations.
Then we will pack our chaos back into boxes and trailers and go back home to our little house with my favorite woodstove just in time for the kids to go back to school.
And maybe, if this hairbrained scheme of mine works out well, we’ll do it all again next year.
How to do dishes, set a table, sew and host a guest. That you can eat popcorn for dinner, how to sing “Dirty Lil” and play solitaire. That you can have a temper and be unfailingly polite and that there is always room for chocolate.
In the end, as her days wound down, she was still teaching me how to hold on tight to all that matters while letting go.
I inherited her name, her wedding ring and a hundred stories. But my only memories of Great Grandma Jessie are nursing home visits and marigolds on a coffin.
People always want to know what famous historical figure you would like to raise from the depths of the past and have to dinner. Me, I’d just like a solid Grandma Jessie memory of my own to add some extra shine to my inheritance.
Last week we left John at home working with all the animals to keep him company and traveled the few hours north to my family’s cabin to help with the annual spring clean up. It was the first time we had spent away from the house in months. We were off the property! I was ready for excitement, what I got was education.
I learned that the kids do not in fact need to pee every hour on a car ride. As it turns out, after months of Covid talk and faced with public restrooms and face masks, they can all hold it the whole 3.5 hour drive. A fact I will remember.
I learned that a change of scenery will not make a single bit of difference in the amount of fighting the girls do.
I learned that if Grandma and Grandpa are the only people they have been able to see in two months, the additional presence of Grandma and Grandpa won’t make a bit of difference in the referenced fighting.
I learned that different chores, no matter how enthusiastic you present them “Yay! Let’s rake pine needles!”, are still chores and they will whine about them just as much.
I learned that Clara will happily pick up and drag home every bit of garbage and “treasure” she can find when out for a paddle.
I learned that Jane will pack herself up two live snails to bring home without asking for permission.
I learned that Ivy can make fantastic cookies in any kitchen.
And I remembered that life always feels better on the water.
“Mom! Open the top!” the girls told me pointing at the barrel of pigeon feed. It was a set up, I could tell by the amount of giggles. I’m not very good at faking surprise and expecting a chicken I debated how to react as I lifted the lid.