Our summer was unusual in that, for the most part, we only had one child at home! For a brief time in April everyone was home - even Nathaniel, on leave from Afghanistan. We had a houseful again, with the activities, special meals, and memories made that accompany each of our reunions. Shortly thereafter, however, our family dispersed and we had a flurry of activity before settling down to a mostly quiet, and brief, summer.
Rebekah graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, an event we were blessed to attend. Two days in the Hyde Park area, exploring the sights and enjoying marvelous meals on and off campus, we savored our time with Bekah before packing up her room and bringing her home.
Within days,... wait, the very next day, we packed up the car and drove to Hickory Run State Park for our annual Memorial Weekend Camping Trip with the group from church. Three nights and four days relaxing in the woods with our church family and friends. There was some rain involved a time or two; some hikes taken; some "Capture the Flag" played; marshmallows cooked over fires; an escapee from a Juvenile Detention facility was aided in his escape; donuts cooked and shared; and memories generally made.
Within days of our return home from camping,... yeah, that's right, Kate and I drove Erin and Chelsea down to the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation in southern Virginia where they would be working at Camp Powhatan as staff for the new River Adventure program. Eight fun-filled weeks of bugs, Boy Scouts, and bears! (oh my!) This is the same program the girls participated in last year as campers and they returned to run the joint. Erin spent her time leading Scouts through caving, white-water canoeing, climbing, and C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) adventures. There were bears on the Reservation and yes, Erin did get to experience an up-close introduction to one while she slept on the porch of her Adirondack one moonlit night.
Not long after Kate and I returned from our whirlwind trip to Virginia, Rebekah moved up to the Tunkhannock area to be near her fiance Sean. We were invited up for a Fourth of July party with Sean's co-workers and enjoyed a day in the mountains of northeastern PA with plenty of good food; closing the day with a tremendous fireworks show.
Between all of the activities and comings and goings, Kate was occasionally home, occasionally away. She spent a fantastic week in Illinois at the Cornerstone music festival with friends from Lancaster. Another week Kate went away at a local summer camp - as a counselor! Kate never had the opportunity to go to summer camp herself, but when offered the chance to go to French Creek she gladly accepted. New friendships were forged and Kate came home giddily sharing stories of a wonderful week.
Somewhere in the midst of all this I know that there were some quiet days. There must have been...
Then August blew in with another frenzy of activity. Nathaniel left Afghanistan behind for good, and after a couple of days; with stops in Kyrgystan, Germany, and Ireland, he arrived at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina; with Jim, Kate, and Isaac there to welcome him home. The very day of his arrival was the day on which the women of our church were giving Bekah a precious Baby Shower. The love poured out on her was tangible as games were played, gifts were opened, and much wonderful food, finishing with a beautiful cake, was shared.
Within days of their return home from North Carolina, Jim and Isaac left for a Boy Scout high adventure in Minnesota. Over a week of canoeing and portaging the boundary waters between the USA and Canada had been planned, trained for, and eagerly anticipated by the troop for over a year. They spent their days canoeing and fishing, their nights under the northern stars.
Erin and I soon left for an adventure of our own. We went with the Venture Crew to the beautiful state of Maine to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Four days on the trail, from one point to another, spent hiking up and down mountains, fording rivers and streams, seeing amazing vistas and walking in the clouds. This will take an entire post all of its own. Another day.
School has once again begun and we are trying to settle into a regular routine involving waking early and studying together as well as independently. Isaac's involvement in cross country - he's now a freshman on the high school team - will keep us hopping for daily practices and weekly meets. Erin - now a senior - will have a more independent year of study, with dreams of white-water-raft-guiding to sing her to sleep... But that's next summer - too soon to think about now!