|Our Ohio Campsite by the Barn|
Chris’ Dad’s youngest brother, Mike, lives in northern Ohio with his wife Susan and many, many Collies. Aunt Susan shows, trains, breeds, judges, and boards the dogs (and loves each and every one of them) under the name Kara Christo Collies. They also have a German Shepherd named Peppered and a lone cat, Tumble. Needless to say, Lily ate her fair share of grass blades and dog hair during our stay in Mike and Susan’s beautiful back yard.
|So Happy to Be Out in the Sunshine!|
We enjoyed one toasty day in the 80’s with our beach blanket in the grass and sun warming our bodies but it rained pretty heavily for most of our four-night stay. How refreshing to feel bare feet on soft soil under green grass speckled with deep purple violets and sunny yellow dandelions. Aaah.
|Our Little Sun Bather|
Uncle Mike and Aunt Susan rounded up as much of their family (Chris’ cousins) as they could for a most excellent gathering on Thursday evening. Christian and his wife Sarah and children Curtis (7), Eli (5), and Aubrey (1 ½) joined us as well as Allison and her two children A.J. (3) and Lainey (1 ½). We missed out on seeing Liz and her husband Nathan as they were in Colorado at a mountain climbing convention where I imagine they were working to advertise and improve their business, RockCandy Holds. They’ll have their own little one to snuggle and love come July so we hope to come back soon. We had a raucous time with all the little ones running loose, ten or so brand new Collie pups, and all of us adults trying to catch each other up on the latest Wyglendowski news. Uncle Mike braved the rain to grill up some brats and burgers for everyone while Aunt Susan pan-fried some hash brown potatoes and we munched on sliced veggies and watermelon. Lily, of course, basked in the energy of all the kids and toys but promptly fell asleep in my arms while nursing on the couch. When I took her back to the camper thinking it was bedtime, she woke up as if to say, “I’m fine! Can I please go back in there?”. We enjoyed a few more minutes of visiting before saying goodnight for real.
Chris and I spent Friday in nearby towns, Ravenna and Streetsboro. We had lunch at a local pizza joint where we were reminded that you don’t get New York style pizza in Ohio. It’s pan pizza with thicker crust and sometimes cut into squares. Next, I dropped Chris off at the library to do a couple hours of schoolwork and I took Lily up to a thrift store (to find a bigger sleepsack and some twelve-month onesies) before coming back to grocery shop and pick Chris back up. This has been a great way to deal with campgrounds or yards that don’t have Internet for Chris to work with. We made dinner for Uncle Mike as he was on his own since Susan had left to judge a dog show that weekend. It was really special to have the time to get into deeper conversation and share some of our inner workings with each other.
|Everyone Thursday Night|
The torrential rain caused a camping/canoeing trip to be cancelled for Christian and the boys so they all piled into the minivan once more and drove up for a Saturday visit! Uncle Mike thoughtfully mowed the back lawn and built up a campfire for us all. The sun came out for most of the afternoon so we hung out by the fire with snacks and camp chairs. Curtis and Eli ventured into the bordering (unplanted) cornfield to hunt for arrowheads while Sarah and I shared mom stories which I especially enjoyed as Sarah is a beautiful example of kindness and trust. At one point, Aubrey, a new walker, was standing near the garden fence while Lily sat in the grass nearby. I was between them as Peppered the Shepherd came loping along toward Aubrey whom I tried to save but in the process I left Lily vulnerable to the playful lick to the face that was just hard enough to bump her backwards; Peppered then jaunted away goofily with his lengthy tongue dangling. Lily whimpered a bit but I sat her back up and she “shook it off”. We’re thinking of adopting Duncan’s tactic of encouraging literal shaking off upon such incidents. Haha!
|Curtis Explains to Poppa|
Eli is bursting with energy. He and Chris picked huge bouquets of dandelions for Sarah and me. Then Eli disappeared briefly only to return with a slightly mischievous face and shout of “burr ball!” to and unsuspecting Christopher while hurling a ball of burrs at his shirt. I laughed at that a few times during the rest of the day. Curtis uncovered all kinds of pottery pieces and neat rocks on his treasure hunt and Lily munched on grass and her hat alternately. Sarah had made delicious granola bars which fueled us up for a short car ride and hike. The five adults, two children, and two babies piled into Susan’s new twelve-passenger meant-for-dog-shows van. Curtis and Eli removed their already muddy sneakers, we strapped in a few car seats, and drove a few miles down the road to park at a trailhead. I got Lily into the sling where she soon drifted off to nap. Curtis and Eli immediately ran about fifty yards ahead, excitedly explored off-trail, carried long sticks and chanted marching songs. Christian reined them in sufficiently and we all went along the gravel trail to our first stop: a small natural waterfall with huge smooth but mossy rock surfaces. The boys immediately gravitated to the slipperiest edge where Christian again played Safety Man.
|Christian and Aubrey on a Mission|
We walked a bit further and wandered off the gravel path into the woods a ways to our destination: a small wooded gorge probably a hundred feet at its deepest point fed by a twenty or thirty foot waterfall pouring over incredibly old rock formations. The lushness of this oasis in the forest was both familiar and overwhelmingly refreshing. Sarah, Aubrey, Lily, and I stayed at the rim while the boys all hiked in further around the edges and down into the gorge. I looked at that beautiful chasm with such different eyes having seen the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and the Sonoran Desert. It probably took thousands of years to form and the moss and vines and trees that call it home are just little babies compared to the massive rock sheets creating the lip of the falls. I took the green for granted for so long.
|The Forest Gorge|
We ordered pizza for dinner and enjoyed another meal in the big farmhouse kitchen before sharing pictures from our adventure then reluctantly saying goodbye to Christian and Sarah, Curtis, Eli, and Aubrey.
It was instructive to flip through all the pictures we’ve taken since January. We haven’t parked anywhere quite like Mike and Susan’s and it felt more like home. After being in the desert it is so obvious that water is an incredible treasure. It is also powerful as we’ve heard with the Mississippi flooding and its ability to keep us inside, mostly. We had some more rainy days and more tasty meals provided by our gracious hosts before packing up again. It was so special being there for a bit of an extended stay. It allowed us to join in a service at Mike and Susan’s church, share stories of our adventures, do laundry, rekindle our appreciation for the lushness of our homeland, and, most importantly, get to know the Ohio Wyglendowskis better.