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Let’s wrap this up, nearly a month later, shall we?
On Friday morning, I joined the adorable Zach to make a buckskin pouch. I’d about convinced myself that I should totally get a hide and make a buckskin hoodie. I could dye it and then it would be more wearable in the not-Gathering world…But it turns out buckskin is a pain in the butt to sew and even more expensive than I’d thought. Also, once you’re away from this setting for awhile, it seems less reasonable to walk around in smoky buckskin. Like at the Renfest, where you’re sure you’d wear that pirate shirt all the time! it’s okay that it’s $150 ’cause you’ll wear it! A lot! And then, you get back to the 21st century and realize what a silly idea it was. So I’m just going to go with the pouch. It came out well and it smells like camp.
After lunch, I went on a plant walk. Every other year, Emily and I had trailed along after Sam Thayer who write The Forager’s Harvest books. Sam couldn’t make it this year, but Joe (of my beloved botany classes) was there for us. It was such a funny contrast between the two. Sam just walks along, shoving crap in his mouth as he goes. Down on the beach, Joe showed us the beach peas and said not to eat them. Sam was suggesting we could eat them fresh or grind the dried ones to flour or whatever. I said something about Sam eating them and Joe replied something along the lines of “Sam eats a lot of weird stuff.” (not a quote. He was far more diplomatic than that). Joe’s walk was more science-oriented, because, you know, that’s his job. I felt like I crammed a few more plant names into my head. I learned that the trees I’d thought were birch were mostly aspen. The fantastic rustling is Aspen. I think I’d just decided those were all in Colorado. I really appreciated his helping us see the little differences in closely similar plants and wished I could have spent more time learning that stuff.
I spent the late afternoon trying to read the Dungeon Master’s Guide on the beach, as making a pouch made me remember that I was supposed to lead a D&D group once I got home…It quickly became clear that my ability to learn by reading (never my strongest pathway anyway) is eroding. I need to find a group to watch.
Michael convinced the kids they needed to go to a presentation about a proposed mine that will likely quite wreck the ecosystem there. He thought it would be short and energizing, but it was an hour long and PowerPointy. Even he fell asleep. The kids were outraged that they’d left their Capture the Flag game for it. And when it was over? The cute boys had already gone home!
That night was the potluck. Wonderful as usual. It’s so nice to have a full spread of food cooked the way I’d cook it, with ingredients I’d use. Sadly, corned venison was the weirdest thing I got to eat. I thought I had stumbled upon a real mystery meat for a while, though. I’d gotten some kind of ricey stew. It was slightly sweet, spiced with desserty spices–cinnamon, cloves. the meat was of an odd texture–dense but soft. As I was trying to figure it out, Emily said something about a rice dish with bananas in it and it clicked: Ah, it’s dried, stewed, banana. Not meat at all. Hey, I’ve only been back on the meat wagon for a year.
The sunset behind the roundhouse was amazing. I was only able to not feel despondent about leaving b/c I knew we’d be back next year.
The girls decided to sleep on the beach that night, which seemed cute. Ben went to sleep with Steve, so the second tent was empty. Until there were fireworks in Ashland, which the girls thought was lightning, and they came scurrying up. And my other-side neighbors seemed to be pulling an all-nighter, too. I got a little cranky. I’m a stickler for quiet hours. I’d managed to doze off, thinking the neighbors were asleep. But no, they just weren’t home. They rolled in and started with the ZIIIIP! and the farging air mattress pump and the talking. I seriously would have punched them all. Even the cute little girl. And then the teen gals came up of the beach and chattered. I started muttering audibly. I heard Grace go “Hi, Deana…” but my sleep-rage was directed mostly at the adults. I realized that the Gathering cannot be more than a week b/c you cannot sleep right next to non-relatives any longer than that and not need to strangle them. My goodwill towards my fellow man was running out. And it was time to go home.
Saturday dawned bright and clear. We mailed some boxes of stuff home to make room in the car for the tents. Zach came by to say good bye and amazed us all by eating a hardboiled egg whole, shell and all. On our trip back, we ate our eggs Zach-style. It’s crunchy. And no mess!
Once again, it was move-in weekend at local colleges, so we had trouble finding a place to stay, but we made it nearly out of Michigan on Day one. We’ll not go through the UP again, though. It’s pretty, but if you get behind a slow driver, you’re just stuck. And we were. So next year, we’ll just come and go through WI. Sorry MI.
School started later this year, so the kids had a whole week between arriving back from camp and going to school. The weather stayed dry so I could air out all our stuff before putting it away until next year.