what happens when a farmwife takes a vacation

there is a lot to say about my 17 days in west marin, i couldn’t possibly summarize it all here. i experienced so much in the oceanside town that i called home for just over two weeks:  from life’s simplest pleasure of dining together with extended family to riding the pacific’s waves.

waves

bolinas is a tiny treasure just off the main highway running along the wonderful west coast. my husband’s cousins grew up there and are now working the land on the Mann Family Farm. the timing was prefect for the three of us to visit (papa and my oldest son stayed back to hold down the fort, remember, it is summer….). i was able to assist with two weeks of a farm camp, and madeline was lucky to participate in her  first summer camp.  (a theater camp that she attended with her cousins)

the final bow for the Addams Family ghost chorus

the final bow for the Addams Family ghost chorus

in those long california summer days, each moment was full: cool morning fog letting go to dry afternoons, a collection of wonderful new friends, succulent fruits, 57 degree salt water,  summer camp songs, and errand running that felt pretty darn perfect as we skirted the coastline. this was not a traditional vacation, it was an immersion into the life of our dearest cousins who are working the land and developing new enterprises.

proud to be part of this farm camp  collaboration between mann family farm and marin country day school

proud to be part of this farm camp collaboration between mann family farm and marin country day school

i can’t believe how thankful i am for this time. i came home with so much (including of course bright orange camp t-shirts for the whole family). as i dined and drove and chatted and laughed with so many fine folks i learned a lot. my strongest thought though is that people are people. life is beautiful and challenging no matter the venue. i entered a world so beautiful my Kentucky self labelled it paradise.  in the stunning seaside towns that dot west marin, you still find marital struggles and employment woes. hidden in the nooks of the redwood hot tubs there are life’s struggles.  my most treasured souvenir from the trip:  life is what you make it. honestly, if you live on the coast there are days when you complain of the wind. i mean really.

boys

bolinas: i love you. i thank you.  each moment i spent with you was so perfectly real and life changing simultaneously. you work hard and ride the waves of life with such grace and glamour. and to my beloved cousins, there are no words.

cuzzz

letting them grow

Things feel different around here these days. It’s really quiet and there are remarkably fewer dishes in the sink. Last week our dear friends were visiting from Nashville. On Friday, when it was time for them to pack up and head back to the city, they also packed up a little something extra… three additional children! Oh, my. All three of my kids were heading for a week long adventure in the big city.

This is out of the ordinary for Eric and me. (And for the kids, too!) We generally like to keep our little ones close at hand, with most of their influences coming from us and the farm. I mean, that’s kind of our personal mission: to have a strong and connected family with compassionate, capable, nature-oriented children. Sure, they have had sleepovers here and there, but a whole week? And in an urban setting with bus rides and Elvis, big libraries and public pools, candy stores and Bobby’s Dairy Dip? Not so much.photo 5

As it inevitably goes, my kids are growing. Their interests are widening. As much as I want the farm to be their center of influence, and eventually the place they might choose to live and possibly even raise their own families, how will they choose this life if they never experience anything different? The sparkling allure of “other” might hang in the backs of their minds when they are adults, enticing them to get the hell off the farm. What basis of comparison will they have to decide if there is nothing to compare? I don’t know the answers. Not at all. I don’t even know the questions, as new ones seem to arise each and every day. I muddle through this parenting gig, hoping that I’m not totally screwing up.

I know how to love my children, though. I love them fiercely. But I can’t let that fierce mama bear love hinder my children’s potential or limit their opportunities. As their parent, I obviously have their best interests in mind. I wouldn’t just set them loose in the city. They have a loving and remarkable guide. (Albeit somewhat crazy for offering to host my three wild kids for an entire week! Eric says it’s the greatest sacrifice since the Crucifixion. Ha!!) It’s the letting go part of parenting that I am wrestling with now. I see, too, that there is more than just “letting go”… it’s about letting them grow into the beautiful flowers I know they will become.

Here I sit, with tears in my eyes just thinking about my babes. I’ll bet they are laughing and having a grand time. I hope so.photo 1{photos courtesy of D.}