Let’s wrap this up, shall we?  Friday dawned cold and rainy again.  As I mentioned in the last post, it really didn’t matter, we just put on a fleece or wool outer layer and went about our business, but we were beginning to worry about having to break camp in the rain.  Packing up wet gear makes an unwelcome task all the more wearying.   By this point, I had clothes lines strung all over the place, including inside the tents, trying to get things dry-ish.  The view over the tarp, at the lake:

The sea was angry that day, my friends.  Like an old man at a deli trying to send back soup.

"The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man at a deli trying to send back soup."

You can see the clothes hanging, behind Lilys head

You can see the clothes hanging, behind Lily's head

The choppy waves called to the kids.  The temps has warmed a bit.   Still not warm enough that *I* was willing to get in, but it seems kids are okay with breaking a bit of ice to get wet, if need be.  Apparently Lily was running with a pack of boys by this point.  Emily took these photos and I didn’t even know about this until I saw her pictures.  That was the Very Best Thing at the Gathering–we were all free to come and go as we pleased and while I did still have to feed everyone, it’s really not that long until that’s not a problem, either.  The older girls cooked for themselves and the younger kids could get their own snacks.  But each person was responsible for his or her own entertainment.  And believe me, it is nice to get a break from having to be certain there is someone to talk to Lily every moment of the day.

And another set of wet clothes goes on the line.

Julianna and Grace got on their suits–because  they are GOOD girls– and pretended it was warmer than it was, if not completely successfully:

Grace is a full year older than Julianna.  Nature is weird.

Grace is a full year older than Julianna. Nature is weird.

Lily switched to a suit and joined in

I didn’t take these pictures, either, b/c I don’t do so well watching my kids in the waves.  I remember all too well that feeling of being knocked under and tossed around, not really knowing which way is up…shudder.  But Michael, in addition to being a nurse, has trained as a lifeguard.  Really, don’t go camping without him.

While this was going on, Emily and I headed over for “Amazon Archery.”  It was a time set aside for the womenfolk to come learn archery, if they were disinclined to play with the boys.  in our case, it was a time when we didn’t have another class in the way.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to remove a breast to be an Amazon archer.  I did, however, have to remove some layers.  I arrived wearing a sweatshirt over a tank and nylon pants over sweatpants.  That outer layer had to come off in the suddenly warm sunshine in the clearing.

Nan, one of the founders, I think, was instructing us.  She has that infectious enthusiasm that made all my instructors good, and this aMAZing laugh.  Think Tom Hulce in Amadeus.  It was like crack for me, I kept trying to make her laugh so I could hear it.  I hadn’t shot an arrow since high school gym class, but I remembered liking it and not totally sucking at it (which, in high school gym class, was a nice change for me.  Also, nice to have a weapon when stuck with a bunch of annoying jocks).  Here is Emily, me, The Lady Who Never Smiles or Gives Up her Spot, Heather who makes awesome raw food, and a girl who was QUITE smitten with archery and also was loathe to give others a turn (but it’s far less annoying in a child).

that’s Nan over Emily’s left shoulder.  My stance did improve shortly after that, but I’d lost my photographer (Julianna and Grace showed up after their swim.  But then THEY wanted to shoot, too).

There was but one person who annoyed me at the Gathering.  It was all my “stuff,” she was jut being herself…but I wasn’t fond of that self.  She was the only person wearing make-up.  Her homespun rough woven pullover said “Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas” on that back.  Really.  And, bless her, she opened all of her announcements at Circle with a poem.  Also, she does puppetry.  Further, she brought her guitar to the archery area and sang about whatever was happening or was said.  As if she were a character on Saturday Night Live.  And, seriously lady, put on a bra.  You make my shoulders hurt just looking at you.

Oh!  And as if that weren’t enough to make me cranky,  she also said, “Oh, are you Lily’s mom?”  Yes, and Julianna’s.  “Oh, I adore Julianna, [this woman taught a journaling class that Julianna loved], she’s a gifted writer.  I hope you are nurturing her gift [said with just a bit of accusation in the tone, like she suspected I’d stomped on all the pencils in the house to keep her from doing that brainy stuff].”  I assured her I am.  “That Lily is certainly spirited, in her own way.”  I’m used to people being amazed by Lily, so I just assumed she was another fan.  No.  “While I was teaching Earth Journaling, Lily came in and punched [my son] in the stomach and pulled [my daughter]’s hair because they wouldn’t come play with her.”  Yes, that certainly sounds like my little felon.  But whatever.  “As a parent I know that *I* would want to know so that I could address it.”  I think I managed a tight smile.  But mostly I went over to Emily and said “she is totally tattling on Lily.”  Emily agreed that that really didn’t much like Lily.  Grr.  But really that was the ONLY negative thing I heard from anyone about anything.  And it was from someone who was already annoying the crap outta me, so I let it go.

After Archery, back in the waves.  Julianna and Keelin, Grace is out of frame

here’s Grace, in maybe my favorite picture all week:

Shortly afterward, I sent Julianna to get some lake water so that I could wash dishes and she got completely drenched.  Again.  In that heavy sweatshirt.  Sigh.

That night we had a potluck.  Best. Potluck. Ever.  So much good food–and of course camping makes everything taste better anyway.  Michael made a wild rice and wild mushroom risotto that made everyone moan.  I made a tasty lentil salad.  The dishes were mostly either vegetarian or venison.  Lots of hand-harvested stuff.  Soooo good.  We joked that the Gathering was made up of hunters and gatherers.  Either vegetarians or hunters.But we all clearly loved food.  Mmmm.  Before we ate, one of the council members smudged the area–a Native American purification and blessing type thing–and made an offering plate.  She placed a teeny bit of each food onto a piece of birch bark (took forever b/c there were so many dishes) and placed it onto the ceremonial fire.  Once the gods were fed, the rest of us got to eat.

you see, Lily, Hershey bars are a very important part of the Traditional diet.

"you see, Lily, Hershey bars are a very important part of the Traditional diet."

Sure they LOOK like Oreos, but their made of deer scat and milkweed.

Sure they LOOK like Oreos, but their made of deer scat and milkweed.

It was hard to realize it was all coming to a close, so I ignored that part, as I do.  There was singing and dancing at the fire that night.  The 20 somethings were doing acrobatic stuff in the shadows (no, really, like balancing and two-person somersaults).  I saw all this when I did my nightly “where is Lily?” round up.  Where did she turn up this time?  At the tent of the Poetess.  I do hope she didn’t batter those poor children too terribly.

Next morning, I started breaking camp, grateful for the Friday afternoon sun.  I headed over to morning circle at 8, still in my jammies.  Emily captured our advanced level of dishevelment:

Emily and I

The closing circle involved each person getting to speak and I had work to do.  It was getting rather too close to the Poetess’ turn and lord knew I couldn’t stay for THAT. My eyes might roll clean out of my head and into the dirt and we didn’t have fresh water to wash them off.

So, a last look at camp:

and break it all down.

Steve showed up and we loaded up and were out by 11:30.  On the road and away.  This time, we went south through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.  Things of note: the convenience stores in Illinois have sharps containers in the bathrooms, for the disposal of used needles.  I’m assuming diabetes and not heroin.  So widespread, there are sharps containers.  Damn.  Also, what is with all the toll booths Chicago?  Just hit us up for 10 bucks at once, please, instead of making us slow down ever 2 miles.

We needed to stop for the night around South Bend, IN.  Turned out to be moving-in day for Notre Dame and some other school that was there. St. Marys?  So we had to go a couple more exits.  We ate the next morning at a local place the hotel desk girl recommended.  Their gimmick?  FOUR egg omelets.  In fact, four eggs was the standard for all the dishes.  I got a “skillet” which was not unlike KFC’s Sadness Bowl,  and had FOUR eggs, a pound of cheese, a bag of potatoes and some other crap.  it easily could have fed two, if not three people.  Shocking no one, the clientele was…large.  hence, the sharps containers.  Lord.

We got home around 8 that night.  Everyone to bed for the first day of school the next day.  The trip was pretty easy, praise ipod and audio books.  I miss it all terribly and cannot wait to go back.