There was the first year in which we drove up in the orange bus and lined the length of the riverbank along with friends and family who gathered to watch W & E become man and wife. Her, barefoot in a black wedding gown crossing the water to be wed in the field under thunder clouds hanging low, and light rain all around. Leon and the meat bee sting. The popsicle that calmed his cries brought by the nice lady from across the liquor store who manned the register.
Then the next year with Kate and her family where I watched in sober contempt from a muddy motorhome window pane (newly, secretly pregnant with Hayes) as she got day drunk off Tequila and fell fast asleep in a tent in the rain for the rest of that afternoon.
The following year we arrived just before Halloween, in sweet time for their annual chili cook off that gathered us around the back corner of the moose lodge - decked out in dime store ghouls - a table crammed with amped up kids for a few rounds of Bingo, in which Arlo won $20 and we all stumbled out after the late night win to find "tripod" - the local bar bear - rummaging through a trash can 15 feet in front of us. The next morning, waking to new frost on the hood of our new airstream. A baby in a knit snow hat and hot coffee to the brim of our cups. Kevin, hanging from a tree branch with an ever steady iPhone, ready to suspend the moment by one single, glorious camp side shot of us all there enjoying the hour.
This year, unfortunately, the defining event was far less romantic. Poor Leon, burned by hot oil in a pan pulled from the fire pit. A freak spill that struck him like an electric shock and sent him straight into a fit of hysteria for the remainder of our last evening hours around the fire. Where looking back I know I might never forget the peaks of frustration we hit with all six of us wedged inside that weird orange tent, sockless, and freezing, trying to sooth an inconsolable pain AND wrangle a restless baby walking deliriously around our dark tent space. Smacking me in the face for no good reason at all, refusing a pillow to lay on every time I begged him to. Downright awful. In every way, by every hour. Yet traditionally "Unforgettable"just like all the rest.
The photos above are what I managed just before my camera went dead. Bike rides in the open field. A hammock over the river to fight over, a short hike to collect acorns for November craft wants. And the infamous mobile zipline strung from tree to tree over the water that let a few kids feel like they could fly for a good half hour before the lady from across the way came rushing over to seize the stunts. No liability insurance she told us, with a smile. The same smile that came trudging to us up the hill with the popsicle remedy three years before. Who I really could have used, sometime around 3am in the tretches of that trying night.