Monday, September 14, 2009

Friends and falls

Just a week ago today, the pool season ended with a dreary Monday, the day after a glorious Sunday final party. In just a week, it seems, the nip is in the air for good, and the season has shifted. You might be able to just see in this photo that Brian is in his jacket now, but that Emily's mood is still celebratory. Our friends are visiting from Austria, and this weekend we saw Ohiopyle in a new light, camping two nights there in neighborly next-door yurts.

We didn't raft, we didn't rent bikes, and our hiking was all of the sort easy enough for 2 year old Emma. What we did: cavort under Cucumber Falls, eat at a family-friendly pub, talk, drink from wax-paper Coke cups, make dinner together, eat breakfast at a picnic table, build fires, roast marshmallows. Brian took both of the older girls back to Pittsburgh for Emily's soccer game, where they once again got to be teammates for a day, and then got them back to camp for a night walk with glow sticks and flashlights. Emma permitted me to babysit her, as long as her sister was nearby, while her parents toured Fallingwater. And then we returned to an evening of recovery and good companionship with more friends, all of us glad to have the companionable emmigrants back.

Camping isn't what it used to be for our family. The $14 a night tentsites we used to frequent with Jo, Donovan, Hannah, Tim and other friends during grad school have been morphed into buildings with refrigerators and bunk beds. The liquid refreshment isn't as elaborate, and we get to sleep earlier and wake earlier, with small people rousing us to begin their own energetic days. But camping is still good bonding and reunion, and my only regret is that we don't do as much of it now, and that all of our friends lives are generally too busy to take a night away, much less a weekend.

While the big girls were away at their game, and the 2 year old was putting her parents down for a nap, Hazel and I snuck away for a walk around the camping area. We collected bottle caps for their art project at Boyd afterschool; we inspected the cabins; she collected acorn families. We returned to our yurt by a different path, and I saw movement in the undergrowth. Hazel and I got to watched a weanling spotted fawn at the edge of a clearing, which peeked back at us with large eyes but seemingly little fear. Eventually the fawn wandered away daintily, and we scurried quietly back to our own campsite.

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