It was a big summer, it was also a short summer. We knew it would be filled with LOTS of personal growth for both Luke and Lily and it proved to be so true.
Our highlight was a two week visit to the State of Maine. Spent between Grandma’s lake house and a trip to Baxter State Park. I could go on and on with observations, the hours Luke spent looking for frogs, the solo kayaking missions, but one particular adventure speaks to me regarding Luke’s perseverance.
During our stay in Maine we had planned at trip to the top of Mt Katahdin, the tallest peak in the state, in Baxter State Park. The trip included a small group of family and there had been lots of thinking about the “what if’s”, such as what if Luke needs to turn back, where will we meet, etc. There is no cell reception in Baxter State Park, where Katahdin resides. It is a very rigorous climb, especially above the timber line. It was always part of the plan that Lily and I would not even attempt the ascent, spending our day on a pristine lake with no one but frogs. So it was important that we had a plan on where and how to meet.
I guess all that needs to be said is that Luke not only climbed the mountain, but was pretty much in front the entire time. When the adults returned to civilization uniformly “plastered” and could barely walk, Luke, when asked if his legs were sore, merely said, “Not really”.
This was one of the first times that I have had the experience of Luke dramatically surpassing my expectations. Which filled me with awe, love and of course admiration. I now think this may be a feeling I will have to get used to more and more as Luke’s confidence and resourcefulness blossom.
Like all the endless clichés of parenthood: “your life will change when you have kids”, “you can never love anything as much as your own child”, letting go is going to be a brutal one.
Because it was Maine, and because it was Katahdin, and because we were with family, the true story of a twelve year old boy that was lost on that exact same mountain in 1939 came up. Grandma loaned us a signed copy of the book “Lost on a mountain in Maine” by Donn Fendler. At first Luke had no interest, I think the cover was a bit off putting to be honest, but when we got home we started reading it all together in the evenings, a few chapters a day and he really go into it.
It is wonderfully simple book, told through the eyes of a twelve year old boy who so simply moves forward day after day after day with virtually no survival skills. Unbeknownst to him, hundreds of people searching for him day and night, and ultimately assuming he had perished. So when you finally get to the place ten days later where he sees another human being, half naked, covered with sores and bug bites, his feet in tatters (he had lost his shoes on day one) and having lost 13 pounds, it is impossible to not be deeply moved.
Interestingly enough, Donn Fendler recently passed away and there is a proof of concept for a movie version of the book. Sometimes the timing of things in life are so wild!
Our summer vacation was topped off by a cancelled flight that lead to a free first class upgrade. On both legs of the journey, Luke got the prime treatment from the airline folks.
On the JFK – LA we were in sleeper seats (first time for both of us) after watching a high end, super fancy-cool DJ guy wait in line at Priority boarding for over an hour, even I was taken aback when the gate check person came straight up to Luke and said “How would YOU! (yes pointing) like to be the first person on the place and meet the crew?
Well, here it is:
I dont remember two, three, four very much. But, I REMEMBER seven!
There is a very popular children’s book entitled “We’re Going On bear Hunt”which depicts a family circumnavigating many natural obstacles in search of a bear. They fjord a river, hike the tall grass, plod through the snow and indeed find a bear, in his cave to which they respond by going back over every event in reverse order as quickly as possible only to lock themselves into their home and jump in bed promising to never go on a bear hunt again!
Now that Lily is in school three days a week and now that my mother lives within a mile of my house, on route to Luke’s school, I have days where I (without exaggerating) travel the same exact route five or six times.
Home to Luke’s school, back home to have breakfast and wait for Lily’s school to start, then off to Lily’s school, then back home to something, then off to see my mom, then back home, then off to pick up Lily from school, then over to pick up Luke from school and back home.
There ARE times I feel like locking myself in my house, getting into my bed and saying I will never take anyone to there respective places of learning or living AGAIN!
Went on our longest vacation ever, a full 12 days! Spent time with many relatives and spent time in solitude. All of it was great, intense, fun, hard, easy and 100% worth it, beyond worth it, priceless.
It was amazing to see where the difficulties presented themselves. Sleep, perfect (for the kids). Food, no problem, things to do? A plenty.
Yet it was indeed along trip and I felt the edges starting to fray towards the end. Its just along time to be away from home, especially when you are very connected to home, which our family seems to be.
It feels a million miles away now, because it is, I have been so incredibly busy since we returned that I have not had a moment to post, so here it is.
The most telling thing for me was the very end when I returned back to my moms house, which is in quite a quiet remote place, and passed by both my kids, alone, covered in mud looking for fiddler crabs on the marsh. I got to the house and there was my wife, I said, “I just passed our kids out there…foraging”
All she said was that they had finally (the day before departure) found there groove.
Before we went back east for Thanksgiving we were told it was going to be in the 50’s, hey kinda like Los Angeles in the morning, perfect, pack light!
The day after we got there the thermometer read 19 degrees! Solution, go to Target and buy warmer clothes for the kids. It was amazing the selection Target Bangor, Me had for kids, great stuff that they don’t sell back home, of course not it is Maine, right!
Anyway, some of the best memories are from that crazy auto generated GIF moves that Google Photos makes for me, here are two that tell the story.