I spent most of the past two weeks at my desk writing stuff from dawn to dusk without a single interruption. Did I miss Robbi and the kids? In the way that one misses snowfall in the middle of summer.
By the end of two weeks, the summer had worn thin. I had written all I could. My brain was worn out. It was ready to see them again.
And so I caught a train and headed north.
To New York City.
Where I caught another train that ran along the Hudson.
Up to Albany, NY, where I climbed these stairs.
And found these people waiting there to see me.
From there, we drove to Williamstown, where I spent nine years of my life. My sister Lindsay and my brother Alex both happened to be in town. I have long ago accepted my role as the least attractive sibling.
The family has recently expanded, courtesy of brother Alex’s fine procreative powers. Meet Chloe, two months old. She is the kind of baby that makes one wonder if one might not need another at some point.
Our eastward march ended at Tully Lake Campground, vaguely in the middle of the upper half of Massachusetts (or in the upper of the middle half, if you prefer). We had brought the essentials for a weekend of camping. By which I mean gratuitously large marshmallows.
Of less importance were the various tents and sleeping bags and such. It was one of those campgrounds at which the cars stay in the parking lot, and campers bring their stuff to the sites by pulling wheelbarrows along a path through the woods.
August was feeling industrious.
But eventually decided that he made better cargo than conveyance.
Tully Lake is a beautiful place, and our sites were magnificent, in a stand of trees right along the water. The boys and I explored the next morning, finding a little path that led down to the shoreline.
There was mist on the water. And Superman on the rocks.
Here is our portable domicile, a poorly constructed affair we bought 15 years ago for $40 on the discount rack at K Mart. I wouldn’t trust it in a rainstorm, but under clear skies, it gets the job done.
I spent a good deal of time explaining to August the importance of “roughing it,” which, by my definition involves forsaking butter knives and spreading one’s peanut butter with a stick.
While August swooned over his father’s masculinity, Robbi made a fire.
And the kids waxed philosophical by the water.
Once she grew weary of parsing the universal mysteries, Alden borrowed a net and got to work on catching our supper.
Though we admired her prowess, we suggested that this fish might have a better day if returned to the water than it would on our dinner plates. Plus, as I reminded Alden, all we had for cleaning and cutting said fish was my stick, and it still smelled vaguely of peanut butter.
And so instead we swam.
And caught up on our reading.
I briefly considered thinning our tiny herd, but apparently, such things are not permitted at Lake Tully Campground.
So instead I threw them in the air to see if they might float away.
The strategy was ineffective.
I should mention that we were actually invited to this fine place (previously unknown to us) by some of the finest friends from college—Josh and Kay and Derek and Adam—and the various children they have accumulated along the way.
August is not the only one of these children who enjoys being shuttled about in oversized wheelbarrows.
Later that afternoon, we took a hike.
Later that evening, we grilled salmon and mushrooms over the fire.
And roasted our gratuitously oversized marshmallows of course.
I live in a relatively rural place, but I so seldom find myself surrounded by trees at nightfall. Moments such as this are good for my soul.
The morning came far too early as mornings often do. August refused to wake up, so we peeled him out of his sleeping bag and let him cling to sweet unconsciousness, flashlight wedged beneath his chin, until the time came to collapse the tent.
Alden, on the other hand, refused to surrender her cozy confines.
Eventually, it was time to get on the road. August oversaw the demolition process.
There was one final wheelbarrow ride back to the car.
And now we are home again, diving back into life as we knew it. It will be a busy fall with many projects and various travels. I am glad to have had that time in Massachusetts, the place where my heart still feels most comfortable, with good friends, among the trees.
But I’m also looking very much forward to this stretch of days ahead. Different kinds of adventure await.