For the last three years we have gathered for the weekend here at this blessed place on the old homestead. A school auction item, this partly sunny, partly shady piece of heaven earth.

Walking land tended by one family since the Oregon Trail means feeling love soft underfoot and the gift of putting down stakes for a couple nights, sleeping under the swirling mass of stars and a half moon.

Cold Creek runs past the portion of the 800 acre farm where families plop tents and under the old foot bridge parts old metal and soft wood, next to the fire pit that rings with camp and pop songs and near by the grassy field, peppered with gopher holes and sports equipment.

We watch kids run from friend to friend, whack the wiffle ball, float downstream, catch crawdads and mosquito bites, hold hands, play cat and dog, and I breathe the gift of freedom for them and for us.

For the joy of exploring and sprinting barefoot until you hit the pillow, for the delight of lifting rocks and finding things with claws and antennae and tiny feet.

For the joy of a different kind of parenting and different kinds of days.

I remember my sister, two or three, and I, six or seven, and our best boy friends pulling apart old adirondack chairs (without my mom’s knowledge or consent) so we could write “Home Sweet Home” in chalk to make art for our lean-to on the edge of the woods. And I think of the seats from stumps and how it had been harder to create the table.

I recall the way the wood’s trees smelled and that I’d sniff my hair after the day was done and trace on my mind’s map where we’d walked and the swamp we’d jumped through, sometimes losing our shoes to the squelchy squirch.

Now we talk about how often parent’s days are about making fun for our kids. Fun they can show up to, be entertained by and how many of our favorite memories involved making our own way. Figuring out what it meant to be a pioneer, an explorer, a banker, a mom, an architect, an athlete.

I watch these rock wall builders and these capture-the-flag guarders and these washers of dishes and these song makers and these marshmallow roasting phenoms and these champion watermelon eaters, and I see how capable they are, delight all over dirt and juice-smudged faces.

Then as Saturday night draws to a close, we hide flags and run and guard and tuck ourselves behind minivans and perform covert rescue opps, and we kids and adults alike run like the wind through the field, knowing how good it is to be free.

It’s good to be back from my r & r. I hope summer has been kind to you. Today, as I do many Tuesdays, I’m linking up with “Just Write” (an exercise in free writing everyday moments), at The Extraordinary Ordinary.

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