Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Maine Thing

After months of dreaming and planning, we finally went on our long-awaited trip to Maine to visit good friends who moved there in November. It was the kind of vacation a parent of little ones dreams about -- their five children (ages 13, 10, 6, 4, and 2) played for hours and hours and hours with our five, inside and out, with chickens and geckos and dog, with play-doh and playsets, with dress-up clothes and dolls and light saber. The only times I saw them were 1) when there was a dispute over how many passengers a ride-on toy could handle, and whether said passengers should sit behind or on top of one another, and 2) when they would gather like starving orphans around the kitchen island, mimicking the puppy in Disney's 101 Dalmatians: "I'm hungry, Mama, I'm hungry. Mama, I'm hungry."


And I got to visit with my very good friend, who has risen even higher in my estimation after putting up with us for a week. She's the kind of friend you love to just watch and learn from -- I received an education in culinary delights (summer savory, grilled home-grown chicken, homemade bread that shamed mine), parenting ("Your voice is whining. Listen to how I say it, and say it like me..."), laundry (a little eucalyptus oil in the wash makes it smell better and kills bedmites), and chicken farming ("Do they still have water? Do they still have water? Do they still have water?").


Ethan got to enjoy the outdoors with their 13-year old son, an outdoor companion of his from before they moved. He and the father grilled together and shared theological discussions, as well as serving as the "wet" parents at the lake (otherwise known as the fun ones). They succeeded at finding a fine wine and failed at finding a fine movie.


This family is the kind that has the two stepped-out-of-a-magazine parents with the five beautiful children that behave themselves. You know, the kind that every church pastor wants to introduce new people to (See what fine members we have? You, too, can be beautiful and put together if you join our church...). Normally this would be cause for me to steer away from them. (Beautiful and well-behaved? There's got to be SOME kind of well-hidden problems brewing that I don't want to get anywhere near. Me, jealous? Perish the thought!) But what sets them apart from the other goody-two-shoes (hee, hee) is their sense of humor. They can match every sarcastic remark I make, and even the children enjoy a hearty laugh at themselves. Or at me (just ask their 10-year old, who calmly pointed out that I was using the knife upside down and it seemed a lot sharper if you put the blade end to the beet you were trying to cut).


We enjoyed their beautiful home and attached barn, their well-behaved dog Jasper (even if he did start gagging whenever I got close), the harvest of their garden, and their adorable town. But most of all we enjoyed the companionship, laughter, and probing discussion of friends. We have been united by the bond, welcome or not, that comes when you spend a length of time with outsiders. A week of our lives has been shared, and I cherish the memories that week provided...chasing the birds to get the perfect picture of a gull hovering in front of the lighthouse, playing ImaginIFF and arguing over what kind of a shoe our pastor's wife would make, crocheting with my friend and her daughter, the three of us frustratingly pulling out stitches, smiling at the draft of a book, Ethan and their son making apple wood chips from a branch that fell from their apple tree, watching kids splash for hours at the lake, the four of us adults sleeping through "The Tower of the Firstborn," seeing five bedecked and bedazzled children in play clothes play "pound" with stuffed animals, watching their two-year old "baby-sit" (in the very literal sense of the word) my two-year olds who seemed to struggle with pattern recognition whenever he got the sumo wrestler look in his eyes, Abraham adopting their 13-year old as his older brother, Edee snorting hysterically at anyone who would pick her up and smile, the children hypnotized at the man playing the musical saw at the farmer's market, five girls sleeping peacefully in their shared room, four boys sleeping peacefully in their shared room. Each memory brings a smile and a sigh.


But I'm almost sure I heard a collective sigh of relief from their house as we pulled away...



1 comment:

  1. ManyCultures1FamilyAugust 21, 2007 at 5:50 PM

    That is a lot of kids in 1 house! Sounds like you had a great time.


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