I know I must say this every year, but I LOVE the Fourth of July. No reason that makes any sense, I love my country, but I don’t get excited just because she is having a birthday. I just love the day. I have “issues” around it. If I am somewhere my family is not, I will get as weepy as a kid at Christmas without Santa. My kids know this about me and just shake their heads. Even truck driving daughter Deanna has managed to surprise me with a July Fourth visit now and then from half way across the country. My kids remember two things, I am sure. Potato salad and sack races. They all hated those dang silly yard games that I made them play when we all got together for the holiday picnic.
Grandpa Lance with Matthew and Steven on the 4th at Tubbs Hill in 1986
Back when they were younger, and we all lived in or near Coeur d’ Alene, we would pack a picnic and hike around Tubb’s Hill to watch the fireworks over the lake. There are family stories that have grown to mythic proportions about those hikes to the lake, and then the hikes back around in the dark to the car. Just a couple of miles, with flashlights, and lots of people. It was fun. I was insistent that we have a picnic, no matter the weather, and there were some very wet, very rainy picnics on a blanket under the big red wagon in Riverfront Park. Our favorite family story includes a rainy hike around the hill and a place we dubbed Guacamole Cave, named for our snack entertainment while we waited out the storm on the way to the lake. My husband Lance was alive, my two little grandsons were just 3, and now they are both 30 years old. It was a different world and a different life, but we still have potato salad!
Guacamole Cave on Tubb’s Hill (our own personal name of course)
In recent years, since I have been in Klamath Falls, we have trundled ourselves downtown to enjoy the local parade, and then waited for the very late fireworks over Lake Ewauna, with varying degrees of delight. Sometimes the midges are out, sometimes the wind blows too hard for the big booms to make it high enough over the trees. Sometimes it is hot. Sometimes it is wonderful. This year I didn’t care how wonderful it might be, I just decided that maybe the potato salad and family games on the cool green lawn in the cool Rocky Point shade would be enough. It was. In fact, it was very nearly perfect.
Mo and I were recuperating in the quiet house this morning and she said to me, “You know, I think this was the best Fourth of July ever”. I couldn’t agree more. Of course, there was an extra little treat that made it even more special. I got to have TWO daughters here instead of my loyal youngest who lives nearby. My eldest daughter Deborah has returned to Oregon, and was here for the holiday. In fact, she is now settled into the cottage for the time being, as she readjusts her life and leaves Texas behind. She loved some of Texas, in fact she loved most of Texas, but other parts of the situation weren’t acceptable, and she decided the best place to be was home near family. Mo and I never intended the cottage to be a place to live, but we still have been fixing it up so it was perfect for Deb. We now have a caretaker, and with the third interview in the works for a local Grants Pass job, Deb may just be settling in to an even better situation in the near future.
Of course, with family coming, all the little places we have around for people to stay needed a bit of sprucing up. We spent several days over at the cottage working on details. Mo fixed doorknobs, made sure the plumbing was all working properly, made drawings of which plugs were on which circuits, and I raked. I discovered that those beautiful madrones, evergreen leathery leaves, drop big batches of old yellow leaves as the new leaves emerge, meaning I get to rake that acre in June as well as in the fall! Oh, wait….Deb is there now!
We also have the little cabin here at Rocky Point, next to the house, and it is a great place for Melody’s family to stay when they visit. It even has its very own composting toilet, a nice little kitchen and refrigerator, and hot water heater. We love having people stay there, and it is nice to open it up and freshen the air, and dust the cobwebs away.
Gardening has taken a big priority this time of year as well, and the flowers are just now coming into full bloom. The incredibly hot weather we had last week has dissipated and now we are back to cool nights and mornings and days in the low 80’s with bluebird skies. Ahh….perfect. Of course, with all these projects going on, quilting has taken a very back back seat in the list of priorities.
Melody came with her family the night before the 4th and we celebrated the beginning of the holiday morning with a big pancake breakfast. Even though the heat has lessened a bit, it was still a good idea to get out on the lake before the sun was high and hot, and we were on the water in the 4 kayaks before 9. It was a perfect morning paddle with me, Melody, Xavier, and Axel while Mo waited back at home for Deb to arrive.
The spring run was gorgeous, and we saw pelicans, cormorants, lots of common terns, several great egrets, a few blue herons, Canada geese, and a beautiful osprey who posed nicely, and a beaver who was too fast for me.
Xavier has only paddled once before but by the time we finished our 2.5 hour trip he was leading the pack.
We couldn’t find our way to the lake through the vegetation, even though the water was high enough, but the wocus and rushes and tules were just too thick to paddle through easily so we backtracked to Harriman Spring.
When we returned, Deb was relaxed in the living room, and after putting the final finishes on the potato salad I went out for another 2 hour paddle with a different group. Melody and I went out with Mo and Deb and went the opposite direction, south into Pelican Bay and through the marsh back to Harriman Spring.
This time we made it through, but it was interesting to see just how different the trip can be depending on the time of day. The morning was still and full of reflections and the afternoon had fewer birds and a lot more wind. Both trips were wonderful and by the time we all got back to the house we were ready to fire up the bbq for burgers and POTATO SALAD! Yum.
On the previous evening we pulled out the Bocci Ball set and played some good games with Melody and the kids, so we were ready to redeem ourselves again with another round on the grass. Bocci is so much fun, very little equipment needed, just those balls and a place to throw them. By the time we finished the last game and Melody and her family departed for Klamath Falls, we all felt perfectly satisfied with our family fourth.
I didn’t hear a sound out here. Fireworks aren’t allowed in the forest, and even on the private land I think most folks care about the fire danger and don’t want to jeopardize our beautiful forest home. I love fireworks, but I surely didn’t miss waiting around until 10:30 at night for them to start, fighting the traffic, and then driving home around the lake near midnight. Deb spent the night here before going home. I can’t say just how much I missed her. Even though we were as close as the phone and email, Texas is still a very long distance and knowing she is just over the mountain is soul satisfying in a deep way. Two out of four kids close by is a pretty good ratio, I think, in this day of dispersed families.
We are now planning for a short trip next week when I will finally get to visit the famous Sisters quilt show. Roger and Nancy (Mo’s brother and SIL) will be sharing that with us, and after the show we will all go up into the Newberry Crater east of Bend for a couple of days camping at East Paulina Lake. Excited about that one. I remember the last time I was there it was raining, but I had a magical kayak trip one evening with fish jumping all around me and practically jumping into my boat. I also know now where the lakeside hot springs are located and plan to check them out.
I am still making progress on our plans for next winter, and with the help of some blogger friends have managed to get plans and reservations firmed up as far as the end of January and South Padre Island. The planning process, especially so far out in time, seems a bit daunting to me, especially with the necessity to know where we will be in February in Florida so I can make reservations there. We traveled all of Alaska for almost two months without reservations, but I don’t think that would be very smart in Florida that time of year. Of course, the Military Fam Camp in Key West, our most distant destination, doesn’t take reservations anyway, but I still need to have a general idea of when we will be there.
A couple of weeks ago I was incredibly stressed, going through all sorts of stuff with kids and such, and a friend listened to me saying, “I know it sounds trite, but it will pass”. You were so right, dear friend, it has passed. It all worked itself through, the daughter is here, the kids are fine, and I am back to enjoying my lovely little stress free life of retirement! Good advice!!