Wednesday, August 15, 2012
It's been six years since we last visited the Island. The Boyo was 2 when we were there, and though it was cold, he spent most of his time undressing and giggling. Fast forward six years and we were back, with the 4 year old Sweet Pea and Holly Bedudah, neither of whom have ever set foot or paw on the Island.
Ben is gone, and Rascal and Shoba of course, and that was a little bittersweet, but Holly proved to be a natural Island dog, and her love of chewing all things stick like landed her firmly in doggie heaven, as the Island is covered with sticks of all sizes and stages of rot or age.
Sweet Pea was a champ for her first time there, and the Boyo was awesome with his ability to help out. They were especially helpful gathering sticks to assist the campfire continuing. Of course, nearly every stick they picked up became suddenly Very Interesting to Holly, who was convinced that each little sliver of wood was meant for her to play with and chew. At one point the Boyo tossed a big stick onto the fire and Holly promptly stuck her nose in and pulled it out. Good news, it was not yet on fire, and she singed herself enough to not do that again.
The day after we arrived was my birthday, 41 years on the planet... woo hoo. But we awoke to a delightfully sunny day with big, puffy cumulus clouds drifting lazily across the sky and a temperature that was neither too hot or too cold for comfort. I decided to fulfill one of my Island bucket list items by going the entire day barefoot. It was much less of a challenge than I thought it would be.
We had a good Island breakfast of pancakes (dragonfly shaped, natch) eggs and bacon cooked over the fire...
My first present of the day was devised by thee Boyo. Since my favorite color is purple, my little family dressed in purple to honor me! I had also chosen a purple shirt that morning, so we all looked a little grape-ish as we went about the day. I loved it.
We went for a trip around the Island in the jon boat, and upon our return I went for a dragonfly hunt. The kiddos didn't join me though, since it required wading along the rocky, muddy shore and neither of them wanted to risk the leaches.
But I went readily and found Eastern Forktails (mating)
I also saw a big darner flying around and hovering. It didn't land or stay close enough to me for a good shot, so I brought out the net and snagged one as it zoomed by.
It was so cool looking that I wanted to show the kiddos. As I was wading back to the landing I saw this guy hanging out too...
As I was already holding the darner, I netted the other one and took them both back to the landing to try and ID. I called to the Boyo to bring my Ode ID books and my two beautiful kids met me near the landing for a quick dragonfly encounter. We discovered that the darner is called a Mottled Darner due to the mottled appearance of the "stripes" on the sides of his body, or thorax.
After we studied him for a bit, we let him fly off and pulled out the other one. I initially thought it was a Swamp Spreadwing, a type of damselfly. But further study had me torn between that and a Sweetflag Spreadwing. It turned out to be a Swamp Spreadwing though. The first Spreadwing I've ever seen! We let him fly off, too.
I went out to see what else I could find, and came across an Autumn Meadowhawk...
A pretty little red bug with yellow legs. I also saw another Swamp Spreadwing...
It was near enough to lunch that I called it a day for ode hunting. As it turned out later, the Mottled Darner, the Autumn Meadowhawk and the Swamp Spreadwing were all County Records! Happy Birthday to me! I thought I'd take the kiddos out in the canoe the next day for more hunting.
The kiddos made us all lunch, PBJ's and milk. It was awesome. :)
The rest of the day was spent by the grown ups hanging out around the fire, relaxing in the hammock, breathing in the piney fresh air, and enjoying the kids. The kids and the dog meanwhile, set off on many adventures around the Island. Discovering things, poking around, and generally adventuring.
At one point as they were off in the woods, Sweet Pea decided to rejoin us at the camp, and headed back on her own. She called out to me once, and when I stood up I saw my little girl hiking through the woods like Dr. Livingstone, little feet nimbly moving over logs and around trees. It was awesome. The Boyo and Holly had some excellent adventures, too.
For dinner we had Island Chicken. A fire grilled chicken breast smothered in grilled mushrooms and BBQ sauce, with provolone cheese on top. It was awesome. We had camp pies and s'mores for dessert. Mine was filled with lemon pie filling and marshmallow, making it taste a whole lot like lemon meringue pie. Again... it was awesome.
After dark fell, we all went out on the jon boat to do some stargazing. As we rowed out we saw the International Space Station cross the sky. We waved and yelled hello to them. I am certain they were waving back.
The Milky Way was bright and clear, and we spotted several satellites, and even a shooting star. One of the first of the Perseid's probably. That night we all slept very soundly. It started raining around midnight, and I woke briefly to zip the windows and doors before settling back in. It was a terrific birthday!
The next day we woke to gray, rainy skies, which continued to drizzle all day. We stayed in bed a long, long time. Talking and giggling with the kids. They got pretty antsy after a while, so we got up and got going around mid-morning. I was still able to get the fire going again with a little tinder and some air, and we chose to have brunch instead of our planned breakfast. So I cooked up some hot dogs and brats and we dined in the tent.
We went into town and explored some shops, picking up some hinges and a new lock for the shed door (which I removed by taking off the hinges and accidentally breaking the hinge with the lock on it.) and some other fun stuff.
When we returned to the Island it was still drizzling, so while I worked on the shed door, the kiddos learned that playing in the rain was not so bad! They gathered sticks to keep the fire going, and went on missions ala Star Wars to "liberate" more sticks from the evil Empire. Watching them raid the Island with their "light sabers" reminded me of my childhood when my brother and I would do the same type of things. It was great.
Dinner was beans and weans with fire roasted corn on the cob for dessert, and after more rainy campfire fun, and a pretty sunset we turned in for the night.
We packed up the next day in the drizzle, and thankfully the heavy stuff held off until we were loading the canoe on top of the car. I was soaked to the bone, but the kids and the wife were pretty dry, and after a quick change into some dry clothes, we left our Island home. Ready to return as soon as possible.
We drove home through some pretty interesting thunderstorms and winds...
but it cleared up as we neared our town.
Both kids have asked nearly every day since when we are returning. I can only hope it will be sooner than another six years!