Tag Archives: beach

Quiet camp

So Camp Mummy hasn’t exactly been full of providing children exciting and educational summer activities lately.

Book reading enthusiasm has waned. Emma still hasn’t finished The Ruins of Gorlan (how can she live not knowing how it ends?) and I just can’t seem to get into the Warriors book about bands of fighting cats.

Plus, I don’t have Emma and Sam all that much during the week, and not for any full days, reducing our chances of getting up to much fun. But we’re not completely and totally lame as long as you count the weekends.

So here’s what we have done:

Japanese Obon Festival

Japanese Obon Festival
The Pokemon Dance.

We stopped at the supermarket for sushi to go and then onto Alton Baker Park, where we fortuitously found Yayoe, Adam’s ex-step-mom who we still call Grandma Yayoe.

We enjoyed watching traditional Japanese dances — including the awesome Pokemon Dance — while being relentlessly pursued by a wasp. I think it liked my gluten-free soy sauce.

I failed in my half-hearted attempts to get anyone go join the circle and dance with me (nor did I go on my own), although Yayoe and I shuffled in place. My arm flapping did double duty, serving to also shoo away the wasp (as well as provide entertainment for anyone watching — group dances are not my forte).

Sam thankfully trapped the wasp at ground level and stomped it into oblivion. Much indebted, I enjoyed a couple more dances and then we headed home.

Hiking to the Raptor Center

Walking in the woods
Did you hear that noise? What was that?

In preparation for Adam and kids’ upcoming camping trip, we went for a hike up Ridgeline Trail. Starting out near Duncan and Berry’s school, we wandered the woods, taking the trails I remembered from Berry’s class field trip to the Raptor Center.

Taking photos of people hiking is a bit tricky, as you have to get ahead of the group and then they each walk behind the person in front. Adam and the kids stopped, however, to listen to the sound of two trees rubbing together in the wind. I told them it was a cougar (we’d seen signs about cougar and bear sightings), loving mother than I am.

I was the only person to think to bring water and was resultingly quite popular. We eventually reached Fox Hollow road, which gave Emma a burst of energy — or at least enough to climb the hill to the Raptor Center, where we donated a whole lot for our entry free. Fortunately they had plentiful fresh, cold water, which everyone enjoyed.

Owl at the Raptor Center in EugeneAfter sharing my granola bar (also the only snack that made the journey with us), I offered to bravely face the trail back to the minivan alone while the rest of the gang enjoyed the educational owl-eating-meaty-bits show and wandered around to look at all the birds, including Raavi, a bird of some kind that Emma adopted a couple of years ago. They’re cool and all, those birds, and the Raptor Center does good work, but apparently birds aren’t really my thing. So I strode off downhill, taking my chances with cougars, bears and my knees.

I returned with the minivan 30 minutes later.

Camping and Exchange Students

Joanna, JD and Regina – Rochester NY meets the West Coast.

The following weekend, Adam took Sam and Emma backpack camping on the coast while I attended a psychic fair in Yachats with my friend, JD, a spirit artist from Ohio. If you want to read about that, read Adam’s post Camping. I don’t know where the tales of my adventure go, but probably not here. Suffice to say it was an interesting and slightly profitable experience and it was great to see JD and Regina, both old friends from Rochester, NY (Regina now lives in Ashland and drove up for a couple of days while JD was still here).

The Miller family guest cottage.

During the week, I helped our local academic coordinator for an exchange student program find families to host French students over the rest of the summer. And decided it would be super awesome if we hosted an exchange student from Japan for the school year. Fortunately, Adam and then Emma and Sam also thought it would be a great idea, so we moved forward with the process. Honoka will arrive in late August and stay in our little guest cottage in the back garden.

Adam is very excited to have someone use the incredibly fancy shed he built and finished (with insulation, electricity, drywall and hardwood floors).

And that’s the news from Camp Mummy for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully we’ll manage something interesting, educational and/or active this weekend.

 

Ocean bound

Camp Mummy has apparently been too adventurous and engrossing to leave any time to write about it. I don’t even know what week of summer it is except it’s the week the little kids are at summer camp, which means I can actually sit down at my desk and answer email, pay bills and clean up a few of the piles that have accumulated during our days of fun.

A couple of weeks ago, we made it to the beach twice. Once on a Tuesday when it was slated to be 96F in town and later in the week to visit Adam’s dad for the July 4th weekend.

Florence Day Trip

Florence Oregon coastWe headed out for a day trip to the beach, setting off before lunch time. We’d just started reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at bedtime, so I downloaded the audio book from the library onto my phone and continued the saga. It kept us quiet and entertained on the hour and a half drive.

(Note: people in Eugene always say it’s only an hour to the coast. But it’s not. It’s an hour twenty to Florence, and then another good 10 minutes to an actual beach.)

We arrived, found a sheltered spot not quite on the ocean and set up camp. I had the foresight to bring a pop up play tent and the kids helped me gather driftwood and rocks to stake it down. I slathered them with sunblock and sent them off to play while I withdrew into the camo-tent and ate lunch. Their bellies directed them to join me shortly.

We enjoyed our picnic lunch: bagels and cream cheese for me and Duncan, noodles and peas for Berry, followed by a dessert of fresh cherries. And then they were off again.

I did a bit of knitting while they played at the water’s edge, watching them dig and run and laugh together. After a while, I joined them, with a bucket of shells my Mum had collected along the Florida coast years ago. We’ve been slowly returning them to the ocean over the last 3 years, but the final container has been sitting on our front porch, seemingly forgotten for quite a long time.

So I began to empty it, one shell at a time, flung into the water as far as I could. Each one a remembrance, a goodbye, a prayer, a wish, a kiss on the air.

We used to walk along the beach together, Mum and I. First in Barbados. Then South Florida. I was the one who brought her back to the ocean she so loved. It wasn’t the same as the Caribbean Sea, of course. South Florida’s East Coast Atlantic was not the pristine, tranquil, aquamarine waters for the Bajan West Coast. It was loud and rough and wild. But it was still the ocean, the beach, the horizon bringing freedom and expansion to your eyes and heart. There’s something about looking off into an unknowable distance — you open up in a way you simply can’t in enclosed walls. And the Atlantic mirrored our wild hearts at the time, struggling with loss and sorrow for the life we’d left behind.

Shells, Florence OregonAfter I left Florida, she kept up her beach combing ways, bringing home countless shells. They were too pretty to leave behind, she said. After she died, I began returning them to the ocean — perhaps not the one from which they came. Would we confuse a shell gatherer combing the Oregon beaches for treasure? Perhaps. But we’ve long been transplants, my mother and I (and people who don’t always follow the rules), so it’s fitting.

Within a few throws, the kids wanted to join in. At first, they were sad to say goodbye to the shells. They wanted to keep them. “We have more at home, I explained.” I saved the very nicest ones to make something out of — wind chimes or a mobile, perhaps.

And so the container slowly emptied, although not quite by the time they were tired.

Cold Oregon watersThe tide was coming in, encroaching upon the tent, so we packed up and headed over to the ocean side of the beach. The ocean was cold. Which made it fun, apparently, as the kids spent the next hour running to and fro, screaming with glee.

I kept visual contact, knitting by feel, not glancing away for more than a second at the time. The Pacific ocean isn’t known for its tranquility and claims lives every year.

No drift wood logs about. Check. Warnings not to go too deep. Check.

But kids like to test their boundaries and while they started out only knee deep, soon Berry was up to her hips. Then a wave splashed her in the chest, reaching her shoulders.

And they ran back, higher up the beach. And I breathed again.

It’s hard to know, as a parent, how much freedom to allow your children. Enough to explore, to learn, to grow, to test themselves. Perhaps even enough to get hurt a little. But not too much. Nothing fatal or life-altering. They need to test their limits and go beyond what is comfortable or safe. If they don’t, how will they ever live a real life?

Time ticked by and eventually the 5-minute-warning came due. We packed up and trudged back to the car (perhaps they skipped, but I was carrying most of our things). No time for the ice cream I’d planned in Old Town Florence. Instead we finished off our car snacks and drinks and let Harry Potter accompany us home where we arrived sandy, sun baked and disheveled, with only a couple of shells of our own.