Week Fourteen (5-12 May 2014)
All Systems Go…
Last pod packed and local affairs settled, like Frodo, we began our long journey this 12 May towards a living volcano, though our purpose is not to destroy a ring (or, if it is, no one has bothered to inform me). Maybe, upon arrival, I’ll toss something round and golden into the lava at Volcano National Park just for the sake of remembrance of the venerated Mr. Tolkien. (Where is that old Cheerios frisbee I received in 3rd grade in exchange for all those box tops?)
Regarding our departure, let me say here that the beautiful thing about having absolutely no earthly schedule is that you are always on time–God’s time, if nothing else. Nonetheless, I’m sure that some of you will search for the deep meaning behind a kick off on the day after Mother’s Day, and ask whether it was intended or cosmically inspired; please let me know when you figure out the answers. In the meantime, with a nod to Peter Pan, we set our headings for “the second star to the right” and set out “straight on ‘till morning.” Here we go…
A Rose By Any Other Name..
But first, every travel vessel must have a name. Our family mini-van, which will (God willing) bear us from the mid-Atlantic to California, is no exception. To name a ship, be it land craft or other, is not an easy task, however. Our blue steel lady–the wormhole traveler captured in previous entries in this log–what would fit her at this time?
Let me see…a vessel to carry pilgrims to a new land…Mayflower? Cliche. Santa Maria? We are not exactly “discovering” anything. Enterprise, as in the Federation starship? Not exactly. The Falcon, pet name of Han Solo’s craft? No smugglers here. Or Beagle, Darwin’s famous ride? Ours is not exactly a scientific voyage, experimental as it may be. Perhaps we should borrow the title of a famous gambling boat, given the risks involved in our endeavor.
The fateful Titanic or Poseidon? No, no. Those will not do. Ahab’s Pequod? Well…there should be some whales in our future on the Big Island, but not quite the same. Bogie’s African Queen? Captain Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl? The Firefly class Serenity?
Hmm…that has some promise. Serenity…perhaps we can carry on the legacy of adventure of that vessel and its eclectic crew.
I should note at this point that Serenity was not meant to travel alone, it would seem. After taxing every ounce of spatial organization skill granted this wee brain and packing said vessel to the rafters, I realized that–while we could fit six large mammals and all their sundries into the cargo hold–this magnificent vessel was only designed to carry so much weight and we would push safety limits if we embarked aboard a single craft (or so those worrying little people of Toyota write in the owner’s manual).
At the 11th hour (and a good 45 minutes more), we scrapped plans to sell our second car and enjoy a leisurely cross-country trip of shared driving, and we incorporated our smaller family ride into the grand voyage plan. (There may have been some measure of divine intervention here, as we had two tentative cash offers on the car fall through a few weeks prior.)
Please sound out a great “Huzzah!” for our recently designated lead vessel, Kermit, named after the delightful amphibian entertainer known for saying, “It ain’t easy being green.” (Was Jim Henson a conservationist homesteader?)
So….audio books, snacks, water and enough camping gear to live off the land for a few months packed away, we set out…
Farewell, Our Little Patch of Virginia Clay
It was sad, really. The yard awakened in full to say, “Good bye and thanks for all you’ve done.” Purple and green asparagus, oregano and lemon balm, garlic, lovely purple iris and assorted azaleas, fruit blossoms, bushels of unripe mulberries already taking form….they were all out to send us off. Observed, too, was the beginning of our annual encounters with territorial carpenter bees and we sighted the first lady bug of the season, the first garter snake, the first caterpillar.
The highlight of our parting, though, was an unexpected send off in the form of the appearance on a bush right along our front door walkway of a praying mantis egg sac, the product of several seasons of our efforts to establish in our yard an army of natural pest deterrents. You see, we ordered and placed in the yard similar sacs for 3 seasons in a row and only saw the first grown mantis last summer. The appearance of an egg sac indicates that they are here in force, that they are breeding, that we succeeded. (Our efforts to build lady bug and nematode colonies were successful in the first and second seasons, respectively, but the lacewings never took.)
(I’ll mention here that I have been blessed with witnessing the hatching of one of these beasties exactly once in my four decades of life on this earth, and I would very much enjoy the chance to witness it once more before retiring this aging earth suit. It is truly a sight to behold. But I digress…)
Out in full force to send us off too was the pollen. For any of you who know us well, you understand what a debilitating salute this is for us each Spring. Another reminder that it is time to move on…
Making our departure from this carefully tended plot a small measure easier is the fact that, despite all of the life bursting forth and noted above, the yard has been quiet for these last few months when compared to the past few years. No clucking and cooing of our egg-laying friends, long gone. No wiggly noses of attention seeking conies, now resettled. No buzzing and cleansing flights by our black and yellow ladies, sold off to other keepers who will see them through the Spring production. No splashing or green bursting forth from the container pond.
Again…time to move on…
The Young Ones
During this stressful, busy, and very tiring week, the four kids’ occasional mishaps and infrequent failures to listen to instruction reminded me that some species of animals eat their young and gave me some sense of why. It also left me frequently citing Bill Cosby, “I brought you in this world, and I can take you out!”
Now, kids will be kids (and we love ours), but it seemed a good time to draw up a list of who would be served up first, and in subsequent order, if we ever found ourselves turning to cannibalism for survival. We reminded the kids about that famous Uruguayan rugby team and their culinary adventure in the Andes and we put the boy on notice (his new nickname, by the way, is “Glass’s Bane.”)
On a serious note, the tikes turned in a great performance of packing, box moving, stacking, and cleaning. Captured here below is a fine example of why everyone needs a personal monkey-servant…er, I mean spry gymnast child…who can fit inside a small sea crate and move nimbly enough not to crush cardboard boxes. (Watching this act of balance, strength, and poise reminded me of good ole Master Kan in Kungfu,“When you can walk across the rice paper and leave no trace, it will be time for you to go.”)
“Pack, monkey, pack! Stack those boxes!” (I’m sure what I said in reality was more like, “Great job honey. Be careful. You are doing wonderful!”
And Away It Goes…
I’ll mention, too, that one child (the driven and ever worried 9-year old), insisted during the move on being assigned some homework for fear of falling behind peers still in public school. On Friday night, she voluntarily began drafting an essay on the influence of imperial Roman trade on French culture after absorbing a related National Geographic article. (I’m still not sure where this one came from, but perhaps Area 51 will ask for her back when we pass through in a few weeks.)
Time Otherwise Spent
There was lots of time spent reminiscing and sorting through old mementos, holiday cards, and cheesy love letters between yours truly and the bride (a great source of entertainment for the wee ones)…
…and lots of meals on the floor in the absence of uncluttered tables and chairs. Cinco De Mayo!
We also slipped out one evening for a last supper (for now) with a sword-wielding family friend, known in some circles as Dirty Gypsy. (Stay real, my friend.) The kids made some last minute farewell calls on friends. Neighbors dropped by to wish us well. And…we slipped in a last minute Mother’s Day breakfast with some parental units before taking to the road. Next stop? South Carolina…