Monday, June 30, 2014

Under the Tetons 2

(Click here for the first installment.)

The second time out, we camped in a small, quiet, tent-only campground on Jenny Lake. This time, it was more about the fishing.  
^Juniper, plying the lakeside, found a spinner.^  

For us, staying in a campground is like going to the suburbs: we are surrounded by neighbors--something far more exotic to my kids than mountains, lakes and trout.  Juniper stopped every single person with a dog, firing off questions: "Is that your dog?  What's her name?  Are you the owner to this dog?"  And, "My name's Juniper and this is my little sister Hazel.  I'm four and she's two."  Hazel would stand nearby, shifting from side to side, looking up, scrunching her nose and repeating Juniper's same questions in her toddler garble: "Is dat yo dawwwwg?"  At least half the campground knew us.      

:: Notes from my journal(!):

At camp: Juniper bounces around, starts a conversation with anyone who will look at her, which is pretty much everyone.  Camping is really fun this year.  We're back in a tent.  The kids are learning the tricks of the trade, like how to find your way back to camp in a homogenous forest.  They are climbing rocks--Juniper scaling them like a gecko, Hazel getting frustrated and whining, "But I don't know howwww!"  They balance on the beams of fallen trees.  Juniper splashes in lake water slightly warmer than liquid nitrogen and not until the sun sinks behind the peaks does she say, "Mom, I think we should go back to camp now.  I'm getting kinda shivery."  
^J bug, practicing her camera-smile.  Note the chocolate around her lips and marshmallow above her eyelid.^ 
We are in the campground of yesteryear.  Tiny, one-car parking spaces, large tent sites, spaciousness around picnic tables and firepits (so many campgrounds these days have a tiny communal area and huge parking space).  The road through camp is so narrow and winding, you'd hit a boulder or tree if you dropped your attention for a second.  And thanks to that, the rare car moves slowly.  Kids play on the road, in the road, on the other side.  We don't worry.  It's the first time I've been to a campground like this in years (of course we couldn't with the trailer).         
:: We are still working out the kinks of car camping.  I don't think I've ever been good at car camping--not since I was a kid camping with my dad.  Packing for a ten-day *backpacking* trip I could do in my sleep (or could have, anyway).  In the old days, my version of "car camping" was to load my backpack and throw it in the car.  But we learn with every trip: the white-gas stove runs out of gas, so to avoid a late-night trip (with elk all over the road) to the nearest store, it's wise to have more on hand.  There are four of us and one eats like a teenage boy, so we could use a bigger pot.  You should never be without a potty chair (running down the campground road carrying a 45 pound kid who eats like a teenage boy = not fun).  And since we're nearly always in grizzly country, we are strict about NO FOOD IN OR AROUND THE TENT, and we have designated "tent/sleeping" clothes (i.e., NOT the same clothes in which we eat s'mores).  We camp in the mountains where it's cold, so I may want to remind my husband to bring a jacket if I don't want him wearing mine.  And my family is sure to catch fish, so it might be nice to have a place to keep them (instead of emptying the cooler of high-dollar chicken-apple sausages and greek yogurt).  Like I say, learning with every trip.  

:: The fishing:  
:: Hazel, on a flopping trout moments before the end: "The fish is waving good-bye!"  After we thank the trout and break it's neck, Juniper gets into the scientific exploration of gutting fish.    
She especially likes the air bladder. 
:: The best fishing holes did not have the most kid-friendly banks, however.  

:: Tonight, me: "Hey honey, what do you think about this picture?  I was really just trying to show how much Juniper has picked up speed since last year.  But all I could get was a blurry shot."  
My man: "Yeah, that's because she's really picked up speed." 
'Night y'all.   

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June Camping: Under the Tetons

At the beginning of this season my husband and I made a commitment: camping every-other-weekend, at least.  So twice in June, we drove a little over an hour up the road and camped under this infamous granite spine.  We are loving our commitment, our family tent, the whole bit.  I'm short on words tonight but I will say: this is the first year in a lot of years that I feel like our girls are getting to see what we were like before kids.  We have so much to show them.  Our passions, which once seemed lost and estranged, are creeping back into our lives, our kids marching right alongside them.

Real quick, mostly photos tonight (I'm splitting this into two posts, for the two trips).
:: Evening at Jackson Lake.
:: Looking for bugs.  
:: In camp.  Juniper taught Hazel and now they both climb.
:: Definitely Hazel's favorite part about camping.
:: Next morning, boat ride across Jenny Lake to a trailhead.
:: I remember camping in places like Yosemite as a kid, my parents pointing to the granite domes.  We would look up, saying, "Cool," then immediately return to the more interesting task at hand: collecting giant pinecones, finding forts--or, snowbanks in June and water trickling down the trail.
^Hazel, incredulously, "I forgot about snow!"

::  Juniper, our wild thing, just takes off in any direction that strikes her fancy.  ("But I just wanted to see what's on the other side of that rock!")  Hazel follows and my man chases them both down.
:: Lots of fat and happy marmots along the trail to a waterfall.
:: The falls: bursting, gushing, like blood from a healthy heart.
:: Our snacking rock and where Juniper did a squat-and-pee entirely on her own without dribbling on her pants.  Whoo-hoo!  (Most adults can't even do that.)    
:: Juniper: "Okay, mom.  You.  And I.  Are Underwater Plant Experts...."  (And the lakeside adventures begin while my man fishes.)  

:: Hazel, caught red-handed.
*Notes: Early June in Grand Teton National Park is wonderful: relatively few tourists, campsites a plenty, no mosquitoes, wildflowers galore, no line for the boat across Jenny Lake, can fish with a Wyoming license.  Normally, we opt to camp on National Forest, but this was perfect.  Plus, we still don't have a dog (no dogs allowed in National Parks outside of campgrounds, really...and no picking wildflowers!).    

Saturday, June 21, 2014

with heavy lungs

I was just cleaning out my in-box and oh, my heart sinks a little when I look at pictures of my kids from a year ago.  A lifetime and just yesterday.  It's like I've just dropped off the peak of a roller coaster, that same feeling, a downhill plunge.  In the swing, when she gets going really high, Juniper says, "My lungs are heavy!"  That's it, exactly.  My lungs get heavy.  They sink and press on my stomach.  My heart throws in a few extra beats.  Did I miss something?  Did I remember to enjoy it?  To love every (other) minute of it?  Am I loving it right now?  Why is my memory such a blur?  
^One year ago today.^

Right now.  Juniper is wearing slightly too-big undies with yellow and orange play-silks stuffed in the back.  She says it's her fire-power that she can shoot out of her bum, like a wasp.  (Yeah, might have to wash those play-silks later.)  We watched Frozen on Father's Day and she's since been trying to find her own magical powers.  She's also since had a few nightmares.  Last night she awoke frightened that her heart was on fire.        
^One week ago.  Watching Frozen.  Must have been one of the scary parts.^

Right now, Hazel is completely naked excepting a new (to her) pair of sandals.  I'd noticed her feet were getting long, long, long.  Her whole body is lengthening, stretching.  Starting on the summer solstice, we'll spend the next three days potty-training.  Her window was late last fall and she's not particularly excited about it now.  Fingers crossed.  In our country, you potty train according to weather, not windows.
^Two weeks ago.^  

Right now, they are playing, playing, playing.  I got out the Legos, which they haven't seen in months.  They play so unbelievably well together.  It shocks me daily.  Their mutual cooperation.  And when it falls apart (typically Hazel crying about not getting her way), I sing-song to Juniper, "Find a way to play together!"  And most of the time, she totally does.  She takes on a sweet, higher-pitched voice and says, "Come on Bazey, let's try this.  There ya go!  Good job.  Now I'll do this and you hold this.  Okay!  You can have this one, Bazey."  And Hazel wipes her tears and says, "Okay, Ju-per.  Dank you, Ju-per."  It's amazing.  Truly beautiful stuff, this sisterhood.  Maybe Juniper's heart is on fire.    
^One week ago.  On a hike.^  

Right now, there is a pretend birthday party with lego cupcakes.  Naked, of course.  
^Four days ago.  Juniper put on undies, a sweater, a backpack and announced she was going on an adventure.^  
^Two days ago.  They spotted a double-rainbow.^

Just now, Hazel takes those long limbs and curls up into the tiniest ball in my criss-crossed lap.  She is still so small.      
^Two weeks ago.  They found a hatched robin's egg.^ 
^Two days ago.  We were all a little frozen. 
And because of that, we had a double rainbow.  The first time I've ever seen the end of a rainbow.  You can't see it in this photo, but I have my pot of gold, right here under my wings.    

Friday, June 13, 2014

fire, smoke and memory

(Plus some long-lost early spring snaps.)

Last night a dry lightening storm split the sky open and set-off a fireworks show.  I stood outside and watched in the wind until it got too close, then I sat inside with the lights off.  Tonight there is a fire burning I can see from my bedroom window.  I had seen the very bolt that started this fire, a red ball at the end of it.  I don't miss fighting fires; it is hot, grueling work.  But oh my, I do love the smell of a healthy fire.  I opened the windows to let in a hint of that smokey air.  The kids stood on my windowsill in their pajamas, pigtails all askew, looking for the fire, following my description with their eyes: See your playhouse?  And the roof of your playhouse?  Look just past the roof of your playhouse to that blue mountain in the distance.  See the white smoke?  That's the fire.  And oh, look!  See that orange light?  That's a tree torching!     

Hazel, her glass-blue eyes so wide she is practically shaking: "I see it, I see da fire!  Mama, dere's a big, huge, fire!!  We could ROAST MARSHMALLOWS!"   

I watched them, the backs of their heads, their day-old pigtails, as they clambered for a spot in the windowsill.  I often (too often) fret that my kids are being denied the childhood I had: best-friends within spitting distance, a swimming pool down the road and a neighborhood of kids that roamed as a pack.  People often wonder what their kids will remember.  I don't expect my kids to remember much.  I don't remember much from that age.  But I do sit back and watch this life, our world, inform their very souls.  I watch as their neurons learn to fire for mountain goats, balsamroot, and the orange slash on the throat of a cutthroat trout.  I don't worry about what they'll remember; my concern is what they will come to embody.  I want them to embody kindness, love, connection, wildness, stewardship. 
Juniper: "Oh, no!  But who will save the animals?"  
Me: "It's a small fire.  The animals will know to run."
Juniper, yelling through the window: "Run animals, RUN!"     

So even though the air is crisp and I *just* covered my corn and beans, potatoes and tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins in expectation of frost...tonight we smell of hot, smokey summer. 


:: And on that note, before summer starts for real, I have some early spring snaps that are too good to miss.  So if you remember waaaaaay back to Easter, we had a visitor arrive that night.  Nana graced us with her presence for a whole week.  My kids may not remember it, but their neurons know to fire for baking cookies, pretending and reading with their Nana.  It all counts, memories or not.     
:: Mudcake-making started early this year. 
:: We semi-spontaneously hosted a small, May Day afterschool tea party.  (Whatever happened to May Day anyway?  I remember as a little, little, kid leaving a bouquet of flowers on a neighbor's doorstep, ringing the bell and running.  But then the memories just fizzle out.  How about you?  What did you do for May Day and what do you do now?  Anything?  Mom?  We did that, didn't we?)
:: In keeping with her Magic Schoolbus obsession, Juniper turned herself into a honeybee, entirely of her own doing.  In case you can't tell, the paintbrushes taped to her head are the antennae, the paint tray taped to her belly is the nectar stomach, the coasters taped to her sides are the pollen pouches, and her wings, obviously, taped to her back (I did help get those on).
:: Juniper teaching Hazel to play Candyland.  Hazel, my sweet-tooth, this is what her dreams are made of.
:: Early, windy, spring walk with friends.
:: If the house is quiet, she's either eating toothpaste or...
:: 'night y'all.
P.S.  YES, I herniated a disc in my neck.  It is fine, almost normal, thank you.  And YES, we were rear-ended by a careless driver last week.  The back end of my car needs some body work, but we are all perfectly fine (except for missing most of Kid's Fishing Day).  It didn't do my neck any favors and Hazel tells everyone that we were in a car accident, but otherwise everything is a-okay.  Thank you.