There are certain things you can only truly appreciate with age; actual people manning the customer service phones, well lit restaurants, books with a slightly larger font...clichéd, yes, but appreciated. Not to be overlooked is the simple pleasure of easy friendships, the kind where adults and kids alike greet the news of a weekend away together with equal enthusiasm. A couple days crammed into a calendar where practices, school preparations and work obligations threaten to overtake every square, leaving us with the reminder that we're playing checkers all year long, just with a more worthy opponent from August to June.
We pack up the cars, knowing that we have overpacked and still likely forgotten something crucial but we don't worry too much because we know that whatever we forgot will likely be the very things our friends bought in bulk on the way up. We'll laugh at our lack of bug spray or diapers but feel deeply relieved that our true necessities - coffee filters, good olive oil, more books than we could read in a week and assorted spices are all accounted for. The kids will form a loud, shaggy pack that divides and unites every hour or so. When one has had enough of a sibling or tag they'll head indoors for some time with a book or a turn at the big table, quickly littered with watercolor supplies and game pieces, only to be joined by everyone else shortly after. The grown ups congregate on the porch or the kitchen, catching up, talking shop, sharing beer and wine offerings and talking about the best things we've read, heard or eaten lately. Every once in a while one of us will glance up, suddenly remembering that we have a half dozen kids out in the woods only to see them off in the distance, one of them dutifully toting around a surly toddler. Occasionally at bedtime a kid will yell, "Where's the light switch in here?" before they are reminded that there's no electricity by their laughing playmates. The more grave reminder will, of course be, "DON'T drink the water from the faucet!" and conversations about what, exactly, would happen if they DID drink the water will ensue.
Breakfast dishes being done always creates a nice segue to "What's for lunch?" and plates of snacks will be dispatched to appease, buying time for a hike or puttering around outside. Forts will be constructed and occupied, freshly picked wild flowers start to take up residence in every water glass and jackets are draped every every deck and railing. Watching this unfold in our friends' family cabin, nearly 100 years old, we're reminded that there is a natural order of things, that although we don't get weekends like this as often as we'd like, it all works out because we all jump back in each time, picking up right where we left off. Standing on a rock outcropping looking into the distance I was reminded that this place was built as a respite from something even before the days of cell phones, email and the 24 hour news cycle.
The goodbyes won't be tearful because the reality is we live 15 minutes apart. And later, when we get home and look through the hundreds of photos from the weekend I'll realize that all the pictures of the adults I snapped make us look overtired, lost in thought or very confused about how to open something. Likely because we were? Maybe so, but it will still serve as a reminder to stage a few of all of us at our best...next time.