Musings, Oregon

What the Rain Doesn’t Wash Away

September 18, 2016

Today, while two girls are finally asleep and Ted’s away on a quick errand, while I drink a little coffee and down a little leftover birthday cake, I’m asking myself, “What just happened?”

I’m worn thin.

The start of the school year brought sickness to our house. Already, missed school days, missed day care days. Meanwhile, I’m trying hard not to miss project deadlines, and I’m foregoing the fun work that I once hoped to tackle.

Several months ago, we set aside this mid September weekend for a camping adventure with friends and family, upgraded our two person backpacking to a ridiculous mansion, and sent out invites for a combination camp out/birthday party for the little Oregonian who first rocked our world in 2013.

Ten days ago, the forecast was low 80’s and plenty of sunshine. We were planning on swimming holes and campfires, games of tag in the ball field, hot dog roasts and happy photos to go into the family memory books…

So much for anticipating the typical Indian summer in Oregon.

What we got instead: a round of antibiotics before the weekend hit, a forecast that changed from grim to grimmer, a change in lock logistics on the private road leading to the campground, several canceled RSVPs (hey, if I hadn’t been hosting, I may have, too), and a looming cloud of dread.

There was no going back, though. The ball was in motion.

A Lucie Favorite: Maisy Goes Camping

Ted busted out a full packing operation: camp stove, sleeping gear, food supplies, meals for everyone slated to join us.

I grabbed layer after layer of clothing from the girls’ dressers, and threw in the Tuffo rain suits for good measure. I looked at my knee length raincoat and thought, “Nah, there’s not enough room in the car, and I don’t think it’ll get that bad anyway. I’ll just take my water resistant jacket.” Rookie mistake.

By dusk Friday night, we were camping.

By dusk Saturday night, we were driving home in the pouring rain.

What just happened?


We live with what we remember, no?

I can write the story in so many ways. Which way do I want it to live in our history? As a success or a failure? As a weekend tainted by bitter aggravation — or a sopping wet adventure that we four tackled together?

To be fair, the first night’s campfire wrapped up a lovely, sunny autumn day. The kiddos played hard, and the adults laughed harder. Even while Saturday’s rain picked up and sent campers packing, Lucie was in heaven, running around barefoot in the mud and “skipping” rocks in the river. (Ker-plunking, more like it.)

I’m pretty sure these are the memories we’ll laugh about as a family. The soaking wet birthday party for three year old Lucie. The bone chill that even the earl grey/honey/bourbon couldn’t hope to kick. The table full of pies and pinot and the handful of die-hards willing to party under a 12′ x 18′ shelter.

I told a friend, next year we’ll plan for midsummer and avoid the party factor altogether. We’ll see the stars at night and enjoy the full twelve acres.

Last night, after an hour’s drive home to Portland for hot baths and showers instead of a second night in a tent, we bundled up in cozy blankets. Marion snuggled into her crib, and Lucie and Ted and I piled onto the couch to watch the first twenty minutes of Mary Poppins (current favorite of the birthday girl).

We woke up this morning and picked up the pieces.

I’ve been in PJs all day, recovering from what’s felt like the world’s longest week. I think Marion’s coming down with a bug, so who knows what the next will become?

Today, Ted made sausage and eggs (just a handful of the dozens that we bought to feed the camp). The tent’s reassembled on the back patio, drying in the breeze of the box fan. He unpacked the gear and cleaned the cars inside and out. He really is a rock star. To his credit, the guy who could barely be talked into backpacking in the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia has headed out camping with kiddos three times this summer on his own accord and carried the lion’s share of the responsibility.

So this is what we’re left with after the storm:

Teamwork and family. Memories made. Hardcore friends. The sense that we tried and somehow managed it together, relying on each other through the gloom, changing course when necessary, arriving home for a toasty warm recovery at the end. The DSLR never even made it out of the bag, but the phone camera caught the gist.

It does wonders when I can keep up with the practice of framing my life.

Looking for the good.

Keeping perspective.

So tomorrow, when morning hits hard and the new set of storms roll in and the cake crumbs are all that’s left, remind me again to keep it up.

And remind me, when in doubt, pack that raincoat.


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  • Reply Sue R. September 18, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    We were driving home from your neck of the woods during that rain! No wonder you all got wet–that was a downpour! Happy birthday, Lucie! (And good going, Ted and Bethany!) Sue R.

  • Reply Jenna O. September 18, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Looks like so much fun, regardless! But I’ll be happy for the raincheck for next time. :)

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