Summer

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It’s overcast with a chance of storms and rain this morning when we wake up. Justin brews coffee and I head to the fridge: gasp! We’re out of milk and cream. Eventually we realize we WILL continue to function. We spend the morning in jammies doing chores and drinking coffee, black. Turns out to be one of those tiny moments that reminds you, “Hey, I can shake it up. I can have new experiences.”

I miss the chance to get out for a walk before it rains. I wanted to take Brynn to the library and the park. (She needs some new books and to burn off some energy! It’s been hot all week – like 90s and low 100s. She’s been cooped up at school because of the heat index.) So instead we truck to Target (at the Quarry) for groceries and birthday gifts: one for Ellie who turned three, and the other for Owen, due next week. Brynn says, “We go to the store, mommy?” and is a trooper the whole trip. She quite respectfully puts shampoos, lotions, and toys, in and out of our shopping cart like a serious shopper.

Home, Brynn naps. About an hour later, we open her bedroom door a crack which is our sneak move to subtly  wake her up. It’s time to head to Plymouth to the Holmay’s. It’s Ellie’s birthday party. They rented a huge inflatable water slide for the the kids and set it up in the backyard. It’s drizzling or raining hard most of the party. Then clouds part around 6:00. Grown ups sit in the garage and under a tent over the driveway; kids ride the slide and play in kiddie pools in the rain. A few parents  stand on the sidelines under umbrellas, trying to balance cold beverages and paper plates topped with brats and hot dogs. There are about 15 kids running around at any given time. Stemigs and Liz and Matt are here.

The Holmays have three kids, each of whom is so sweet.  They routinely do these fun, big parties that’ve included a bouncy house, live ponies, and – rumor has it – even a clutch of cuddly bunnies that I guess were jumping in and out of people’s laps and hopping all around. Day care families, soccer teammates, college friends, relatives, neighbors–we’re all invited. That chance for kids in summer to let loose, and for grown-ups to hang out (and drink beer!)

Now it’s evening, we’re home, and I just put Brynn to bed. I’m either going to 1.) read a book from the deck (or bed…) or 2.) watch a movie. I’m reading “The Smartest Kids in the World” by Amanda Ripley. And just finished “The Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha. I also just started following Nora McInerny Purmort. These are what I’m thinking about!!


Ok, the funniest thing just happened. Another Brynn first. I stepped away from the computer to double check the title of my book. I passed the kitchen and a little critter caught my eye. (Almost gave me a damn heart attack , really.) It was Brynn, crouched on the floor. She was spying on me. About a week ago we moved her into her big kid bed. It was her first time sneaking out. When I locked eyes with her she started to grin like, “Oh, busted! Is this ok, mom?!”


 

Brynn
Brynn, watching for cupcakes
Ellie and slide
Sweet Ellie, birthday girl!
kids and grown ups
Kiddie pool scene
Watering can
Watering can shenanigans

Tofte

These are from Brynn’s first trip to Tofte. We took her there last fall for her first time. This was at the picnic shelter at Tofte Park.

That weekend on Saturday, we visited friends with a new baby in Grand Marais. For dinner, we cozied up at the Legion for all-you-can-eat spaghetti buffet. The next morning: breakfast at Blue Water. It was fall; October. November gales were in the air. It was blustery but mild enough for outdoor living for the weekend. We camped on Honeymoon Hill at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground. It’s the same place we go on-and-off to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Now we’ve been married ten years.

Justin worked in Tofte  at Bluefin Bay for four years in the late 2000s. We lived there for two on Tofte Homestead Road. (The other two years, commuted from a combination of Two Harbors, Pike Lake, Duluth.) The Bluefin community and Cook County neighborhood were our home. It was amazing having nothing but lake, rock and woods as your surroundings. It was so easy to hear yourself think. But it was hard, too. I struggled feeling lonely and depressed. But the surroundings were exquisite and so was the way of life. I had many interesting jobs and got to know great people. I waited tables at Papa Charlie’s, served coffee at Moondance in Lutsen, and even worked in sales for the Cook County Herald for two weeks (with their signature logo, those snuggly little bears). Finally, landed at Grand Portage National Monument where I made great friends and got to experience a singular connection to Grand Portage. During that time Hat Point was my home each week; it was staff housing. There was the breeding bird survey, stream restoration, GPS mapping, Fort Charlotte, Pigeon Falls. The ferry to Isle Royale was a daily sight. (I learned to knit.)

This time of year I get so homesick for that area. Recently, we had a blessing for Brynn near Burlington Bay Beach (aka Agate Bay) in Two Harbors. It was so nice to be up there again. I’ve always wanted to write about our time on the shore.