During the first pandemic year, before the vaccines, I missed my family’s annual reunion for the first time since 1988. The second pandemic year, when my kids were too young to be vaccinated, I missed it again. Being anywhere on the 4th of July other than the Adirondack town where my father grew up felt cosmically wrong. We watched case numbers as June ticked down, crossed our fingers, knocked on wood, broke out the home testing kits, lost count of the relatives who had to bail out at the last minute because of positive results. We got lucky.
And then we had to relearn how to survive a road trip as a family. Our kids were three years older than the last time we’d attempted a ten-hour drive — less given to smacking each other over encroachments across the back seat’s center line, but also more opinionated about…everything. The Spouse and I were also three years older, with bones and muscles that more intensely disliked spending ten hours strapped into a vibrating seat.
I used to be able to count on writing once I got to the Adirondacks. Even with all my relatives around me, sometimes thirty people and a dozen dogs crowded into two little houses, I could find a quiet spot and get a couple of hours’ work done. Those hours might be in my parked car, or sealed up in a dark room with my sleeping kids, but I could get them. I told myself I would keep all of the week’s Patreon writing commitments once we arrived.
The other thing that had changed over the three years since the last time we traveled to the ancestral stomping grounds? My kids’ bedtime moved from 7pm to 10pm.
At home in Maryland, I knew what a productivity killer that change was. I’m not entirely sure why I thought it would be different in the woods. Writers do tend toward deranged extremes of wishful thinking.
So I’m most of a week behind here, for which I humbly apologize. As amends, I offer the above photograph of what my menfolk and I call the Blueberry Islands — Near Blueberry and Far Blueberry. One of my third cousins calls them sandbars with delusions of grandeur. When I need to go to my happy place from, say, the dentist’s chair or the line at the DMV, this is where I go.