Monday, June 20, 2011

Land Locked

Tomorrow is the summer solstice. While I was not raised as a Druid, my mother started a Summer Solstice tradition with our family sometime in the 1970s. This tradition is special to my siblings. Some of us remember it with reverence, others with a nod at the quirky things our mom did to try to give us a nice moment. "Vacations" to some of our friends meant a trip to Wisconsin Dells, or better yet- Disney World. We were strapped for cash and travel opportunity for a family of seven, with dad's wheelchair burdening our mobility.

This time was before the days of handicapped parking, or ramps at all public venues. Some of our "vacations" meant a trip to the VA hospital, somewhere north of where we lived - but far enough away that we would have to stay in a hotel. It was the pool that made us happy. And for some reason, I remember  little boxes of single serving cereal, Tang, and these weird chocolate chewy stick-like treats that were also marketed as astronaut food. My brothers and I would fight over the last one ALL THE TIME. And if we ended up winning the fight, the prize was more in the winning than the eating. These things tasted like glue.

Summer solstice wasn't about a hotel pool. But it was this weird tradition of waking us at 4am, loading the station wagon with our sleeping bags, lifting dad into the passenger seat though a hand operated pump lift, leaving the wheelchair at home, and driving 18 blocks to the lake shore to watch the sun rise. Mom was smart enough to bait us with the small cereal boxes. Of course, we'd be fighting over who got the Sugar Pops, and who got stuck with the Raisin Bran. And my little sister would always make a mess trying to cut the side of the box along the perforated lines that turned the box into a bowl. My older sister would always cut the box correctly, but somehow never could figure out why it leaked when she poured milk into the box.

The older kids, (sister and two brothers) got to lay down in the back of the station wagon. They'd always be kicking each other for leg room. My litter sister and I would get stuck in the middle seat - but we were happy not to be stuck in between the older ones; on the hump. I would always want to be in the back with the big kids. My brothers would ALWAYS remind me that I would never be a big kid and to stay where I belonged.

Through all this wrestling and bickering, mom and dad would ignore us. They'd patiently wait for the first signs of the sun to peak over the horizon, or through the morning clouds for the soon to be blast of color and radiance. They would start "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" as if they were watching fireworks. We'd stop our fighting, just for a minute. If the waves were a little strong, we'd wait for a crash against the breaker rocks and yell, "yay!"

Soon there after, we'd start fighting again. Mom and dad eventually gave up on the family peace, and started the engine. We'd all crawl back into bed, leaving the mess in the car and mom to get dad back into the house by herself. We were such ungrateful kids.

Now mom lives in a little cottage with a tiny view of Lake Michigan from her living room. If you find yourself on her front porch, and  angle your head to the left, and stretch your eyes to the horizon to see in between the two ugly spec houses across the street, you just might catch the sun on its way up. I can't remember the last time I was in Kenosha on the Solstice. But I do remember seeing her watch the weather forecast the night before. She quickly turned off her alarm, walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, then headed to the porch for her ritual.

I was glad I had the sense to pull myself out of bed to watch it with her.

#4 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

Tonight, I set the alarm for sunrise. 5:39 AM. I'll have to be happy with watching the sun peak over the trees, since I'm hopelessly land locked in Pennsylvania. 'Cause there is no way in hell I'm going to wake up at 3am in order to drive to the closest Jersey Shore to watch the sun rise properly over water.

Or maybe I will. Just to torture the kids. You know - pay it forward a little.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I'm just tired but that sounds like a lot of fun. I can see why a kid wouldn't think it was all that.

    When we would travel between the Bay Area and Los Angeles to see the grandparents, my mom would take us up the 101 instead of the 5. She called it the scenic route, and we used to make fun of her from the back seat with our "Look at all the beautiful weeeeeeeds!" sarcasm. Ingrates, all of us.