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The picture was taken in Culver City, California ~ February 2009
8 September 2009 – with a hint of autumn in the air
Did you have a good long weekend? Things are slow at the shop so Jim had Friday off too and neither one of us complained. The Electrician has been building a new service on the house while he’s had some extra time off. His project has to be completed before the rest of us can finish the backyard work so we twiddle our thumbs while he pulls wire. I’m his favorite apprentice when we build Habitat houses but he really hasn’t needed my assistance this time so I just stay out of his way and work on my own projects. He was really ready for a fishing day on Saturday and had his eye on a certain section of Clear Creek so he packed his fishing gear and took off early in the morning. He drove up to one of the trailheads and rode his bike in to a section of the creek that doesn’t get much traffic. He landed and released eight little cutthroats and took pictures and had a great day. He said that autumn is already showing her face in the mountains. I’m so glad!
I spent part of the weekend unpacking our 5th wheel. It has been a busy summer so it hasn’t moved from the driveway since we got back from California in June. We had unpacked at that point but my chore this weekend was to empty everything that won’t survive the winter. I know I know, it is still too early to be anticipating cold weather even here in the Rocky Mountain west but we’ve already filled our autumn dance card so I know the trailer won’t be going out until next spring. We were hoping to find a fall Habitat build close to home or take a trip to Canada to visit Jim’s Dad but it looks like we’ll be moving our kids and finishing the backyard instead. It’s all good but there is a certain sadness every year when I clean the trailer for one last time.
We haven’t done a lot of traditional camping in the last five years. If you read my stuff you might know that we eloped and camped on our honeymoon and camped all through nearly every year of our marriage. I remember camping pregnant and camping with infants and toddlers and teenage girls. We carried our classroom with us so we didn’t have to stay home during the school months. We camped late into the fall and early in the spring nearly every year. We could pack the trailer and be in the mountains within an hour so we did, often. It always made me sad to winterize the trailer and trade campfires and the smell of the pines for the shelter of home during a Colorado winter.
Like I said, we haven’t done a lot of “traditional” camping lately but we have used our trailer more than we ever used the trailers that preceded it. My little home on wheels was quiet yesterday so I had space to let my mind wander. The memories are different than they were in years past but they still flood over me while I’m unpacking canned goods and cleaning supplies. I remembered packing those same items in January when Jim agreed to work on the project in California. It was snowing so I waited until the last possible moment to load anything that might freeze. I remember packing our tent in a snowstorm in the early 70s but that was packing to come home. I think this January was the first time I packed in the snow to LEAVE home.
I cleaned the trailer bedroom yesterday and had a memory of hearing the fireworks at Disneyland while we got ready for bed each night in Orange. I could almost smell the ripening citrus fruit on the trees outside the window. I cleaned the closet and remembered how funny it felt to pick my clothing by humidity rather than temperature forecasts. I remembered the salty smell of the sea and my astonishment at flowers in February.
I cleaned out the medicine cabinet and remembered the way my bones ached and yearned for some Colorado dry air on those days when the ocean weather came ashore. I pulled the detergent out of a cabinet and remembered lugging heavy loads of laundry back and forth. I sorted through my traveling library and remembered reading specific books in specific places whether on the beach, in a laundry room or on the road.
The kitchen was filled with memories of grocery shopping together just like we did in the early years before we got a second car. We had debates about which store was which when we discovered that the familiar chain stores all have different names in California. I remember how shocked I was to find alcohol in every store and the incongruity of long rows of liquor bottles in the health food store! I remembered so many early mornings and late night dinners when Jim’s workdays were extended by commutes through unbelievable gridlock. And I thought about the times we played tourists and learned history lessons in Spanish missions and old Hollywood cemeteries.
I hate the thought that we’re done camping for another season but I’m so grateful for the memories we made in our little home away from home this year. I cleaned and packed up so many memories of sights and sounds and people that filled our days on the road and in several interesting RV parks. I’m glad for all the photographs and all the word pictures that can take me back to those California adventures. And I guess the best part of my cleaning day was the moment I realized that even though we had a great time I’m still so glad to be home.