idaho summer camp 2015

we usually arrive at the lake at twilight, when the no-see-ems are flying in moving clouds and the sky still has after-sunset pinks and blues. we pull off the main road and sawyer climbs in the front to sit on my lap and steer the wheel as we creep down the gravel driveway. the cabin is there, lit up against the july evening and the lake is glowing, the same as it did last year and the year before that.  in a year, everything changes and in a year, nothing changes. this place is my measurement of time–every summer, seeing my children taller and wiser and braver against the backdrop of the sky and trees and water, a marker of their evolution from babies in ergos to toddlers in diapers to kids running around, wild and free. it is the place i come back to, the place that is a constant when everything else is in motion and spinning. i know that when i come here, the last light of day will leave me with wildfire dreams, and i know that when we wake up in the morning, my dad will be chasing away the geese that have made our lawn their home for the night. i know that we will watch the day emerge from our chairs on the deck, coffee in hand, the hummingbirds leaving trails of vibration around our heads, the early sky just waiting to crack open with idaho light. i know that the kids will run free, collecting cherries from the old tree, watching the animal-shaped clouds move in the sky, leaping through sprinklers and cartwheeling in the grass. i know that there will be country music on the stereo, and i know that if i look out into the backyard, my mom will be watering her black-eyed susans or hanging fresh white sheets on the clothesline. i know that there will be games of mexican-train dominoes and cribbage and that there will late night dance parties on the deck with some star-gazing and planet-counting. i know that sometimes we will jump into the lake holding hands, and that sometimes we will jump into the lake solo, with a noodle around us to soften the cannonball-bellyflop. i know that my dad will drive the boat and slow down when the speed gets too fast for the inter-tubers and i know that my mom’s hair will fly in the wind as we whip around the bay. i know that i will wrap my kids up in beach towels warmed by the sun, and that i will hold them in my arms until they stop shivering or until the air dries their wet lashes. i know that i will feed them slices of watermelon, and put band-aids on their knees when they scrape their skin and i know that at night, i will tuck them in and listen to their favorite parts of their idaho day, kissing them as they fall asleep–the lake on their skin, their hair smelling like sunscreen, their cheeks pink from the summer sun. in a year, sometimes it seems as if nothing changes: over and over we come back to this place and the same constellations sparkle over us, the same sounds of coyotes echo in the dark silence at midnight and the same deer come to wander through the trees at dawn. i know that next summer we will make the seven-hour drive back and find the lake again, the same as it ever was. we will spend a few weeks on the shores of pend orielle, playing baseball on the lawn, swimming underneath the surface of the water until our lungs take us back toward the light, and watching the bats swirl against the silver white moon. and in a year, sometimes it feels as though everything changes: we grow taller and older and we start to take shape–day by day becoming the people we were meant to be–a slow and steady evolution that is highlighted by the context of a familiar place. what this next year will bring is not yet known, and we are wrapped up entirely in that beauty and mystery. we leave and return to certain parts of ourselves; we take flight into new space and we don’t look back; we learn and fail and fall and we are cracked open and painted neon pink; we burn up and we burn out, yet we never stop moving forward…and throughout all the motion and chaos and change that a year brings, i know that next summer, we will pull down the gravel drive and that the lake will be there waiting: the same as it ever was.

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