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Harvest to make room

Harvest to make room

It’s an odd season for renewal, but it’s necessary.  When you think clearly about it, harvesting is a part of renewal.   You are clearing the way for new growth in the spring.  My first step in that whole “back-to-school” mindset is of course the last dash vacation of Labor Day weekend.

Orion and I spent the weekend up North with my folks (his Oma and Opa).  That means a lot of things.  There is that daughter sense of wanting to make things easier for my aging parents.  I make a point of keeping up with our laundry (or my Mother will do it.)   I try to wipe down the bathtubs and showers when I use them (especially the parts that get dusty and I know my Mom can’t quite reach.)  I run interference in the ongoing power struggle between my folks, giving my Dad occasional validation and my Mom a break from the constant whine.

There is also the daughter sense of “take care of me!”  Mom and Dad cook (because food is love) and I will love whatever ends up on the table in spite of myself.  I will gladly take Mom’s gas card and fill my tank.  I’m happy to let Orion and Dad have “bonding time” over Orion getting his morning bath, and dressed.  (Hey, they’re both morning people and it’s usually done before I roll out of bed.)  Orion and Dad have a thing, that started way back when Dad went to Language Camp as Orion’s aid.  That’s where Opa comes from, and of course Oma goes along with it.

Oma and Opa in the kitchen

Oma and Opa in the kitchen

And that is the core of my vacation.  Mom and Dad are busy.  This weekend involved marching in a parade and going to the Union picnic (that’s two days of stuff).  The nice thing is Orion LOVES to tag along.  So I sent them off on Saturday to the parade without me.  I puttered.   I could do this at home when Orion is at his day program, but here there’s always something (like dishes) pressing.  There I really can kick back and if I wander off not feel pressured to be back before Orion gets home.  It was amazingly refreshing.

I also would like to note that Mom and Dad are not connected to the internet.  Because of a family emergency I ended up on-line via my phone to my cousin on Friday evening, but by Saturday I was done.  I did pull out the computer Saturday evening for a bit of writing, but didn’t touch it for the rest of the time I was up there.  It wasn’t a total tech detox.  I am back on the internet within an hour of getting home – getting this blog together and checking my mail.  But it was a reminder how much nicer it is to read books than Facebook messages all day.

Oma and Orion politic-ing at the Union Picnic

Oma and Orion politic-ing at the Union Picnic

I’m very lucky to still have my parents.  It’s a treat to spend time with them.  It’s a treat to let them spend time with Orion and be left alone.  It’s a privilege to help out in the small ways that I can.  And it’s a great place to go for renewal.

Have a great week and a bounteous harvest!




The train hugs the cliffs around a curve.

I’ve always enjoyed taking the train.  I grew up walking distance from the tracks.  I remember going to sleep to the train whistle as it passed in the night.  The train tracks were the shortcut to everywhere out of the neighborhood.  In grade school it was an adventure to walk the tracks to our local McDonalds.  In Junior high and high school we’d take the tracks from the suburbs into Minneapolis and catch a bus downtown.

I’ve ridden the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto.  I’ve ridden the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  I’ve had a Eurail pass and traveled through Holland, Germany and Switzerland (with a little stop in Austria just to say we’d been.)  I’ve taken the train from Edinburgh to Salisbury.  I’ve taken the train from New Delhi to Jaipur to Agra (are they still going by those names?)  I’ve taken the commuter train from NYC to DC.

The train we took to Montana probably looked a lot like this one built in the 1940’s.

My sisters don’t really remember the train ride we took to vacation at Glacier Park in Montana.  The old Empire builder was a little scary for a small girl walking between the cars and watching the rails go by underfoot.  I may remember the trip because I got stuck there.  The door was too heavy for me to open from the moving platform.  Luckily it wasn’t long before someone else came through.

We took the Empire builder again with a 3 year old special needs child.  Orion was particularly sensitive to noise so we went first class.  We had a lovely sleeper car for the trip all the way to Seattle.  This weekend Orion tried to convince everyone that he remembered it when we visited the historic Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway.

It was a beautiful day and Orion loves people and motion.  He talked to anyone who would listen about his “experience” on the rails.  It was a complicated day for the volunteers who run the restored line.  They got a call about a freight train coming through.  Since freight has priority on American tracks they had to move the train out of the way, which delayed our boarding time.  They also had a group of cyclists riding the train so when they moved the train back they parked to make it easy to load the bikes in the baggage car.

VIP in the baggage car.

Orion patiently waited until everyone had climbed aboard.  Then they moved the train again – just for us!  They had to get the box car we were riding in aligned with the platform so they could use the portable lift.  This was old fashioned technology – a hand crank!  I told Orion he must be a VIP.  It isn’t everyone who has a whole train moved just for them!

There are trains that I dream of taking.  The Orient Express from Paris into Asia Minor, the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan, the Queensland Rail across the outback all promise adventure and fantasy.  I probably look every year at the possibility of taking the Amtrak to New Orleans.

The old train depot




The thing about riding the train is that it really IS the Journey not the Destination.  It is in that spirit that we ride the historic train for an afternoon.  Not so much an adventure as a chance to sit and enjoy the scenery and dream.

cattail from the train


Between the holiday and the heat I feel like I’ve lost a week.  Those of you who follow me regularly will have noticed that I didn’t get this weeks blog posted on Monday.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.  It’s just that I didn’t feel like it.   Monday after a holiday is difficult, because in a lot of cases it’s still a holiday.  The virtues of living in America where everything is adjusted to accommodate the corporate culture.

With the 4th falling mid-week the holiday weekend was kind of neither and both.  There were fireworks, public and private, on both weekends.  There was the day off in the middle of the week.  There was unbearable heat across most of the country.

highs for 7/4/2012

I’ve never moved out of Minnesota for a reason.  I don’t do well in the heat.  Sure, when we have heat it’s especially horrible because of the humidity.  Even at its worst a Minnesota heat wave is not July in Florida!  In the southwest the heat is supposed to be more bearable because it’s dry.  It’s true.   85 degrees is almost still pleasant in the southwest.  However, anything more than 90 is pretty horrible for me regardless.

That midweek vacation day was cause for me to join some friends for an overnight in the woods.  A little spiritual retreat to connect with friends and nature.  We weren’t really roughing it.  We stayed at a friends home.  They have a lovely secluded spot a couple of hours out of the Twin Cities and across the Minnesota/Wisconsin state line.

Usually it’s delightful to be away from the noise of the city and out of cell phone range for a day or two.  Usually the lack of air conditioning is compensated for by the shade of the trees and the fresh breezes.  Not this time. It was just plain too hot!  It was too hot to walk down to the creek to cool off.  It was too hot to dig out the camera to take photos.  It was too hot to think.  When the time came to get back into the car and head home I was just a puddle of goo.

This is actually late July or early August of 09, when it was MUCH cooler. Some of the same friends though.

Thankfully my car does have working air conditioning.  I felt like I’d “woken up” about an hour into the drive home with the fan on full blast.  Of course it didn’t hurt that about then I hit the traffic delayed by city fireworks as people looked for parking and good seats.

It was surreal driving home with an occasional distraction of blasts of color and light in the distance.  It would have been fun to have just been the passenger.  Then I would have been able to watch the fireworks without having to pay attention to the road.

This was one of those times when I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation.  Because I don’t really get one (it’s a mom thing) it takes a little longer to reorient and recover.  So I feel like I’ve lost time.  I should somehow have almost another week before this blog is due.  It can’t possibly be Monday already.  Or Tuesday.  Or whatever day I finally get around to posting this.

Do you find time a little harder to keep track of in the summer?  When you take a vacation?  When you put excessive demands on your body?

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