It is different. Everything about this trip has a new layer to it. This is my fourth year doing this – making my pilgrimage to spend time with Herb – and once here, I fell into a familiar routine – stopping at certain points along the river to admire the view or to take in the silence, setting up camp, cutting wood, building a fire. All of it had a familiarity that was comforting. As in years past, each step led to a memory of Herb showing me how to do it, but this time, I can’t help thinking of camping trips with Violet. I picture myself showing her how to build a one-match fire, just as Herb showed me - to start with fine tinder - the tiny branchlets from the dead, lower limbs of evergreens. They make a certain sound when you snap them that tells you they’re dry enough. I’ll show her how to collect pencil-sized branches next, then some the size of your wrist, then others as big as your arm, how to arrange them – to know before you strike it where the match will be placed and to know how the fire will spread through the dwelling you’ve created for it.
But will I take Violet on this particular trip each year, or will I keep this one for Herb and me? Whatever I decide, as far as this year is going, she’s here as much as Herb is.
I missed Violet's second swimming lesson today. Linda texted me and told me that Violet did much better!