We are witnessing more and more signs these days of change, of fruits brought to bear. Summer camp began this week, and I went back to work. The Oregon Coast continued to clear up and warm. My child is growing rapidly, the way they do in these early stages. There are certainly these clear, concrete examples of growth, but I also feel myself and the people I love at a point on the cycle where we will begin to see formed the things we’ve been toiling towards. I don’t know if we will recognize it for sure until we’re looking in hindsight, but I feel an easing, an alignment much nearer than I have in some time.
Because we were unable to recruit a camp nurse for our June week of camp, I served as the first aid staff for the week under supervision of the camp’s local physician (this does still fall within national camp standards, so don’t worry). I was not expecting this to be my major responsibility in my first week back, but I’m working to be better at greeting the unexpected with good nature. I wanted to see this as an opportunity and not a chore. I framed it to myself that it would allow me to get to know campers better. It would give me a chance to further develop our medical protocols and practices first hand. I’m certainly not an MD or RN, but I have lots of first aid experience, and I do think I’m pretty good at taking care of people when they don’t feel good. I was fortunate we didn’t have many prescriptions and the most significant diagnoses I made were recommending more water a few times, then a Tylenol for a headache.
Honestly, this is work I miss that I hardly get to do these days. Much of my recent work responsibilities have pulled me away from a lot of the camp work that involves human interaction and connection. I’ve felt starved for that part of the work at points over the last year. Even with it coming this unexpected way, it was probably something good for me.
This was the week of the solstice, our longest day of the year, and the official beginning of summer. I used to spend more time in tune with seasonal cycles. Lately, I’ve been keeping too busy to be very conscious of these things. I miss those times when I knew the Earth’s rhythms better, when they seemed as important as my deadlines and goals. It was important to me to pay attention to a day’s length, how the seasons are turning. I used to hear it speaking to me more. I’ve closed my ears for a time, but I’m looking forward to listening again. I overheard someone announce the solstice just before a meal, and it occurred to me I would have just let it pass by. It was the longest day of the year. The Earth had reached the edge of its yearly lean. We would soon start moving back towards equal parts day and night. We hit the extreme, we would start moving back into something more balanced. I almost ignored this big thing my world was doing.
Towards the end of the day, home from work, I asked Allyson if it would be alright for me to pass off about 20 minutes of parent duties to go down to the beach at sunset. I felt compelled to watch the sun disappear on the longest day this year. I took Digby with me. It was windy, the sand had been blown into curving sculptures over the big washed up logs. The sky was colorful. It seemed fitting for the day. We stood there looking at the cloud formations and the ocean beneath them. I realized my mind was moving too fast to fully enjoy it. I tried to slow it down. There was much on my plate to think about. It was hard to pay attention to what the big world was saying to me. I am looking forward to clearing the plate, to enjoying the satisfaction of the full meal on the stomach after dinner.
In the middle of the week, I had a camper injury that did not seem serious, but I called our local physician Ben just to be safe. He said he would just come down to camp after work to check it out. I was touched by that kind, helpful gesture from someone who just wants to help us out. He and his wife, Teresa made it camp and we talked them into dinner with our staff. The injury was just fine. As we sat around the table, we filled them in on the camp week, and it came out that Teresa had done the camp nurse roll before (she’s a retired MD), and she’d be happy to come back and help out, so I can concentrate on other camp work and get home to my newborn a little earlier in the day. It was yet another kind gesture on this day, putting us at ease in this often stressful work.
I went home feeling so satisfied with the circle of friends camp life has surrounded me with. It is uplifting to see these connections and friendships translate into service to each other. To see it result in stories around a table sharing food, taking time to help with something you know you are good at. When our work gets lonely, we suffer. There is much joy to be had in many loving hands next to you. It is humbling to see fruits bear in all these ways. From people who love the place you came to, so they love you. From people you knew many years ago you reconnect with. From people who know someone you know and want to help you because of them. This community of friends and family I find myself surrounded by is this sticky web that I am happy to fall back on.
On Friday after the campers had left, we went to the Manzanita Farmer’s Market for the first time this year. My sister Tracye had just come in yesterday to visit and meet Aura for the first time. Hope joined us. She had just met the musician playing there that night at a songwriting competition and told him she’d try to catch his show. It was a hot day by coastal standards. We took off Aura’s clothes and put her in the wrap on Allyson’s chest. For the brief moment, our work was done and we were enjoying the fruits of many people’s labors. I bought a container of fresh blackberries, huge and sweet. We passed them around, sitting next to the stage, music in our ears, sunshine on our cheeks. I felt more content than I had in a long time. This was satisfaction. I was in this beautiful setting with friends and family I love very much. We sampled delicious foods from people we are meeting and growing to know. People who recognize us when we come to their booths.
We are in the times of long days, days moving back to balance, days to taste the fruits of your labor to celebrate and take joy in them. There is a need for days of toil and work. I have had those. But that work must lead to something good someday. It is time to listen to music together. To gaze at the people you love and hold those thoughts in your heart. It is time to lean on each other and help, to feel the joy it brings. It is time to eat and to savor. It is time to strap our children close to us and let them see what we enjoy, so that they can love it too. I am hoping I will continue to embrace these things as they come. I am hoping I do not let them pass me by.