Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Year She Didn't Need Me

Fifth Grade. FIFTH grade. An elder this year in her 4/5th class, her first words out of bed this morning were, " I'm so excited, I could throw up." The last five years of  going and returning to school were a definite transition. In years past, I accompanied her to the classroom and took the role of the segue between home life and school life. I held her hand, organized her supplies, helped her understand directions, let her sit in my lap and hugged her repeatedly before I left her at school the first day. I distinctly felt this period of letting go of her time with me and watched her slowly accept being away from me and comfortable at school all day. She was hesitant, tentative, but willing, and this always gave me a way to participate in her transition into school. She needed me; she looked to me to get her there. The return to school included ME helping her ease in. 

This year, her fifth grade year, she did it alone. I drove her to school and walked her in. Before we even got to the front door, we separated in the crowd and she emerged behind me with a friend, smiling and giggling and entering school without me by her side. She bounced down the hall, comfortable in her school, with her people and herself. She wasn't dismissive or avoiding, she was just fine on her own. So, I stepped back and let her walk away with her friends. She didn't look back and she didn't ask where I was going. She knew where to go and how to get there.

She came home from school tired, but very happy with her day. She said she really liked her teacher and she can't believe she is an elder. I feel this space between us, but it is filled with independence and confidence, not distance. While in the past we walked side by side, I feel now we must negotiate this space and learn to dance around it. She needs the space to grow and build her personal life. She needs this space to come back to and feel loved and accepted. Eventually, we will enter this space from different sides to find common ground and meet in the middle. I'm sure there will be times when we both stay on our sides of the space without knowing how or wanting to enter. I smile at all of this knowing the years by her side created this comfortable, open space between us. And for now, I'll look back at the years when she needed me and get ready to start all over again with Sadie.

4th Grade

3rd Grade

2nd Grade

1st Grade


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

China Poot Party

The Duffy family traveled to China Poot Bay upon request of the newly ten year old for a long weekend on the water. We were happy to oblige her request and celebrate all the awesomeness the Maren is. After a 20 minute water taxi ride, we arrived at the yurt on the lagoon in a quiet bay.  Quicker than you can turn ten, Maren jumped into the natural world. 

Water seemed to be the ten year old birthday theme. She immediately began collecting specimens of flounder, bullhead, sticklebacks and snails.  Then she hopped into the kayak looked back at us over here shoulder and shouted, " I'm ten! I'm a tweenager!" And she paddled away.

The birthday celebration continued with a  six pound bag of gummy bears. Sadie was happy to assist.

After roasting hotdogs on a stick ( Maren's birthday dinner request), we pigged out on homemade cupcakes.

The drizzle didn't deter the gummy bear cupcake sugar rush.

We had the bay to ourselves except for the harbor seals that fed on the pink salmon as well as the sea otters. We listened to the eagles nesting around us and even heard and saw a peregrine falcon who had a nest just above our beach camp. We watched the black bear come down to the shore each low tide and were lucky enough to see a black bear sow with two cubs.

We did short paddles around the bay in the kayaks...(The water knocks Sadie out!)

and longer day paddles over to the creek...

...and we explored smaller bays and coves in the area.

The trail to Halibut Cove was strewn with currants, blueberries and salmonberries and where there are berries, there is bear poop! We gathered bags of berries for China Poot jelly.

The girls built their own fires.

Four full days of outdoor family time. There is nothing better. The only time we spent in the yurt was to sleep.  We set up a beach camp and had a constant fire complete with chairs and good beer. We sat, caught fish, collected things on the beach, sat, napped, explored at low tide, sat and ate all our meals by the fire. Everything tastes good and we all felt very relaxed.

 We celebrated our last night by welcoming the next day with sparklers.

Maren flew her Phoenix kite and shed tears when we had to leave.
It was a wonderful getaway for our family.  A chunk of time, the great outdoors and the people you love are the perfect combination.

China Poot Mandalas

 A mandala...

...represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.

I was definitely feeling the cosmic relation.

China Poot Color

Beach Pea

Red currants
( JEWELS!!!)


Beach Fleabane