Sunday, August 20, 2006

Home, part I

Friday, Aug 18, 2006

After what seemed to be an almost unbearable week of no schedule, transitions with going to & coming from Ex’s house, and the culmination of summer, we managed to work all of the conditions just right so that we could get SmallBoy to Michigan for the weekend. Since I had to be home in time to sing at 11:00 mass on Sunday, we had to return Saturday evening.

With the sky still dark, and just the beginnings of daybreak peering through the shadow of the dawn; with the Birdie-Birds starting to chatter and the world beginning to wipe the sleep from their eyes, we woke SmallBoy up at 5:18 Friday morning. He was a little reluctant to awaken until he realized that it was “Michigan Day!” Thankfully, his bag was already packed and all I needed to do was add a few more items for him – toothbrush, sensory tunnel, a couple extra pairs of socks & underwear…the basics. Once he was dressed and ready to roll, he went out to the car and waited patiently until PC and I caught up.

We were in need of something to start our engines, despite our unusual state of awakedness. The local coffee shop, just down the street from our house, opened at 6:00, and so we drove down on our way to the expressway, hoping that someone would be willing to serve us 15minutes early. Fortunately, someone was there and willing to take our money in exchange for coffee and muffins. SmallBoy split a lemon poppyseed muffin with me and, to his surprise, discovered that he LOVES almonds. Aha! Trying something new without knowing it! As we pulled on to the expressway, the sky a slightly lighter shade of gray, we reminded SmallBoy that the question, “are we there yet,” would only be answered affirmatively once we were actually parked in Michigan in front of our cottage. Despite the fact that we were heading out of town on a Friday, just ahead of rush hour – which, on a Friday in Chicago is 24hrs long -, we made it to our destination in remarkable time, reaching the half way point in just under an hour. To help make the trip seem a little shorter, we made it a point to have a countdown to each state line…”In 10, 9, 8….Welcome to Indiana! Welcome to Michigan!”

The morning had finally made its grand entrance, though still gray and rainy on parts of our journey. When we reached Home, we decided to pass our entrance and proceed straight into South Haven and hit the Golden Brown Bakery to see if we would finally have the good fortune to happen upon fresh blueberry coffee cake. We rolled into town amid the morning hustle and bustle – I had forgotten that for the rest of the world, it was still a work day. The bakery, of course,was crowded, mostly with tourists waiting to get their fresh baked delicacies; in Michigan
, that’s anything baked with blueberries. I took SmallBoy to the restroom and PC stumbled across the last two blueberry coffee cakes in the store. Obviously made that morning with freshly picked blueberries, the cakes, sprinkled, okay, encrusted with brown sugar was taunting and teasing us all the way back to the cottage.

Just south of South Haven, we turned into our park. What a breath of relief to turn that final corner and see our cottage, bordered with red and white impatiens along the deck, greeting us, welcoming us Home. She is nestled in a valley that is lush with greens and browns, trees, ivy, myrtle, sasafrass, ferns…it’s breathtaking. Our excitement to start out and show SmallBoy as much as we could in the next 36hours overtook our need to dive face first into the coffee cake that had been tempting our tastebuds all the way back in from town. We tossed our bags in our room, did a quick check for my camera, which has been AWOL since the last trip to Michigan, and set out to check the beach.

Within the last couple of weeks one of the nasty storms that rolled through south east Michigan did some damage to one of the decks that leads from the road down to the beach and we were anxious to see if it had been repaired and to see what the beach looked like as a result. As it is with the earth, rain has a massive impact on the appearance of, form, texture of the earth’s surface, so it wasn’t at all surpising to us when we reached the beach, after descending the fortified deck stairs, to see how much of the beach had washed out from under the stairs, how many rocks now made their home snug in the beach sand that once was smooth as a baby’s bottom. Not surprising either, was the size of the beach and how far in the wet sand came before the dry.

We strolled down to the water and tested to see if it was warm enough to swim. PC & SmallBoy walked right in. I started with trepidation and toe dips. After the initial shock of the cold had worked its way through my veins, my body adjusted itself and the water began to feel somewhat soothing. The guys set off ahead of me looking for stones and beach glass. One my favorite pictures, had I a camera to show you, was when PC took the time to stop and show SmallBoy how to skip a stone. He showed SmallBoy the kinds of flat, lighter weight, smooth-ish rocks to look for and then, with the patience of a father, showed him how to hold the rock, how to “wind up for the pitch”, and how to launch the rock. Now for SmallBoy, this is difficult, as skipping a stone involves throwing it with one’s arm at a very odd place, which for an Aspie is something COMPLETELY different. SmallBoy met it with great excitement. He got discouraged when he didn’t do it exactly right on the first try, but he kept trying. With PC’s constant cheering, advice, encouragement, guidance, and love, he managed to actually get a skip or two out of a couple of the rocks. I joined in the fun and, for the first time in my life, managed to skip a couple stones. It was such great fun!

We walked north along the
beach, ran in terror from a couple of giant horseflies that must have thought we were invading their turf, skipped stones and danced our feet in the surf. We reached “The Circle”, which serves as homebase for our park, home to the soda bar, and some former hotel cottages. As we came off of The Green, the patio of the sodabar, we caught the quiet morning sun finally getting comfortable in the sky over the meadow, through which runs the Brandywine River, named for the color of the river caused by all of the tannins in the water. We stopped at the bridge to overlook the meadow to our right and the beach to our left, and promised to return later in the day. PC guided us along a path to the north which took us through the woods to a spot along the Brandywine that was rumored to be great for catching Frogs. PC had taken me out their earlier this summer and we found it a very picturesque spot for capturing snapshots of his guitars. The multitude of greens in this forested area, coupled with the brandy color of the river, made it seem like we were in some secret secluded part of a forest only a few were privileged to know. Unfortunately, among those few, were plenty of mosquitoes and they found me very appetizing. As they feasted upon my blood, I followed PC and SmallBoy down the banks of the Brandywine in search of frogs.

We spotted fresh foot and pawprints and it was evident that we were not the first ones to visit this particular place that day. Sadly, the frogs were no where to be found, either in hiding from the previous visitors or off adventuring somewhere else in the park. Instead of being disappointed, though, SmallBoy was enthralled as PC showed him the places where he, as a young boy, used to find frogs.

Eventually, the mosquitoes won the battle for my blood and we decided it was time to head back and slime up with bug spray. The good kind – which to most people is the bad kind….loads of DEET, because I was not ready to sacrifice any more of my blood, nor run the risk of West Nile
, though I’m certain those mosquitoes haven’t found our Home yet. PC led us up a steep path just before the park gate that, led us back in to the park much more quickly than going in and walking the road back. The path, of course, was all natural, like the everything else in the park, dirt, leaves, rocks, sticks, tree roots. And it was damp. Piece of cake for PC and SmallBoy. I, on the other hand, had a bit more difficulty with the rock part, as I had gone out barefoot, a new joy I’ve learned to experience. Nonetheless, we made it back to the cottage, refueled on hot dogs, slathered each other in bug spray before heading out for our next adventure.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

1 comment:

Kristina Chew said...

Glad you got to the beach! (Bugs and all----they love me, not Jim and Charlie!)