One of the things that saddens me about living so far from where I grew up is the fact that I can’t share experiences with my children that made my own childhood special. They don’t know what it is like to always live near grandma and grandpa, to have access to a wealth of playmate cousins, to be surrounded by the astounding beauties of this part of the country. I am reasonable enough to know that even if I could recreate my own childhood for my children, it wouldn’t be the same. (They are all boys, for one. They are bound to see things differently.) Nor can I deny that there are things about where we live now that I prefer to my homeland. Nonetheless, when offered the chance this vacation for a short getaway to a favorite childhood haunt, I jumped at it. I couldn’t wait for my kids to experience Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (Go ahead and snicker. That’s really what we call it.)
Uncle Tom married into our very large family when I was about 8. He brought to the family things that we had never known- a speed boat and jet skis, a beautiful waterfront home where we celebrated 4th of July, and best of all, a quiet cabin on a nearby island. We spent a lot of time there as children, exploring the Puget Sound, discovering the wonders of phosphorescence on midnight boat trips, collecting shells and learning to ignore the slimy rocks and the biting cold of the water in our determination to swim.
And when we were older, it became a tradition to spend a few days there to de-stress after a big wedding. Thankfully the tradition still holds.
I was so excited for my boys to have their first ferry ride.
I was also excited that the forecast was for a sunny weekend. To my dismay, it was cool and cloudy when we got on the boat. But as we drove off the ferry, shafts of sunlight were making their way through. When we turned down the last hill towards the coast, the last of the clouds had disappeared.
Anyone who has ever lived in the PNW knows how exciting a thing sunshine can be. For the kids, it meant jumping out of the vans and heading straight to the beach for shells and wading and boat rides, no matter that it was January.
And for the rest of us, it meant long hours of sitting and pondering the light on the waves,
seeking adventure in the ubiquitous tangles of driftwood,
and hiking nearby hills for the view.
But best of all, it meant someone decided to show off.
Despite a late night of sitting around the fire roasting s’mores and stargazing, I set my alarm early the first morning, determined not to miss the sunrise, and to catch some quiet moments before eleven children came tumbling down from the upstairs loft.
As I came through the living room, I was astonished by how beautiful the scene was. I couldn’t believe that a place could be more beautiful than my sometimes exaggerated childhood memories.
But what really brought the tears to my eyes was the sight of my first born, in his pajamas, standing on the steps leading down to the water, completely entranced.
I gave him a moment, then quietly went out to join him, and we shared the experience.