Memorial Day is usually when some brave soul gets in the water at the cabin for the first brief shivery swim of the season, but we’ve had such a warm and dry spring everyone was in the water all weekend long. This particular section of the Umpqua is still pretty chilly but definitely bearable, and unusually clear right now because it hasn’t yet slowed to its algae-choked summer crawl. I spent a few lazy hours on a floatie, facedown and peering into the typically hidden environment of tree snags and rocks and long rippling ribbons of mysterious green vegetation and a startling amount of curious smallmouth bass peering back at me with bright red eyes.

It can be shamefully easy to take our time at the cabin for granted. I was thinking about that this weekend, how I used to feel something akin to resentment for this lovely family getaway because it was so clearly hugely important to John and yet we were eighty bazillion miles away in Seattle. Okay, technically about 350 miles but factor in driving with a baby, then a baby and a toddler, plus both Portland and Seattle area traffic: it felt like eighty bazillion.

Now it’s a pleasant hour-and-change trip that typically involves zero dual-diaper changes in the pelting rain at a highway rest stop. It’s also far more relaxing to be there than it was when the boys were unpredictable darting toddlers: for all its bucolic serenity, the cabin itself is sandwiched between a steep riverbank and a busy highway.

John’s parents own the cabin properties; there are actually two right next to each other, one was purchased decades ago and the other somewhat more recently. The third cabin in this little row along the river belongs to John’s uncle’s family. Visiting is always a family affair in the summer, it’s a nice setup where everyone can spend time with each other in the water or on the lawn and then retreat to their various spaces.

As lucky as we were to have access to the cabin back in our Seattle days, it feels far luckier now. I sometimes watch our boys goofing around on the rocks or fishing and think how if we’re very very VERY lucky, their own children will be enjoying the cabin someday, and I’ll be swanning around in my flowy caftan being the most awesome grandma EVER, and when I get even a tiny bit tired of small-child-wrangling I can GIVE THEM BACK.


7 Responses to “Scenery change”

  1. ML on June 3rd, 2021 1:24 pm

    As someone who remembers the agonizing handwringing of should-we-move / should-we-not for you in pre-Oregon days, this brings me both so much joy, & inspiration – to jump in on the decisions I’m weighing for myself. You are living a life well-lived, not in spite of, but because of what you’ve grown through. It’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing the beauty with us.

  2. Cara on June 4th, 2021 4:29 am

    We are at the beach this week. A luxury that is far easier for us than most for a variety of reasons. And yet, until this year I wondered if the hassle was worth the effort. But, this year my kids are 10 and 6 and quite responsible for their ages. They are strong swimmers who can be trusted to follow the safety rules we’ve set. They also happily and quietly entertain themselves with books and puzzles while taking a break from the sun. This year, the week at the beach has been a joyful vacation for ME, too. I loved the little kid stage, but wow the big kid stage has some perks.

  3. C on June 4th, 2021 8:32 am

    This is really reassuring to hear. I have an almost 4 year old and an 18 monther and we’re taking them camping this weekend. The amount of shit, the change in routine- nothing is relaxing and I constantly wonder why we leave the house.

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  5. Pat Birnie on June 10th, 2021 7:53 am

    I have also been reading long enough to recall when you agonized over the move & made the big move. Your pics and description of your area have inspired me to add Oregon as yet another state to visit when we Canadians do our big road trip. Love that you were in the water all weekend – we have a cottage on a tiny shallow lake (1 mile across & 2 miles long). The water has been warm and lovely for weeks now.

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  7. Maggie on June 28th, 2021 3:15 pm

    As the parent of a kid who got car sick every time we drove more than 30 minutes and who had relatives in a lovely, but over three hour drive away part of the state I felt this post hard. Former carsick kid is 18 and my other kid is nearly 12 and now trips are delightful and relaxing. However, it took me years to get past my PTSD surrounding that drive and to realize it was no longer a horrible burden.

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