Claire warned us twice about gas in emails. "Make sure you have at least a half tank when you are passing through Cambridge on the way down-- that is where our closest gas station is and it's about 45 min-1 hour away." I didn't quite believe her. But as we drove down that flat, two lane road for miles on end, I saw with my own eyes that she wasn't exaggerating in the least. And when my dashboard suddenly lit up with indicator lights, I also discovered the truth in another one of her warnings: there are miles and miles on deadman's land when it comes to cell phone reception. Not once but twice, I pulled over to do the only things I know how to do on a car: check oil and tire pressure. Why do I always think I am brave enough to take these trips with four kids by myself? And why can't I be the sort of person who does things like regular car maintenance?
The kids spent the afternoon watching MTV, a joke that they laughed at over and over again and were quick to share with each new arrival. (See the picture below to understand.) Claire taught them the best way to bait crab pots, which involved snapping spot with their bare hands, a task Gus nervously agreed to, but which Sena refused. She took them to look through tide pools. Tonged oysters with them. Netted for minnows.
We watched the sun set from the screen porch, enjoying a vista that looked more like something from another continent than any views I've seen along the bay from my opposite shore. Claire's friend Rosie showed up with amazing loaves of homemade sour dough. Gus manned the grill. Sena prepared roasted cauliflower. As more people arrived, the mood changed from educational to festive, and was was struck with moments of overwhelming gratitude.
The next day brought pots of coffee and frittatas and a few more hours on the dock before heading home in time for me to work.
I probably shouldn't be so fast to say yes to somewhat labor intensive invitations when Tom can't join me. It requires a lot of the friends who invite me along. They help me cut up dinners and keep kids from falling down stairs or in to bodies of water. My laize faire approach to parenting is likely exasperating to those unaccustomed to my methods. But I hate missing out, and I'm quite certain, than I will do almost anything in my power to not miss out on invitations to Claire's bit of swampy magic.
*The last six photographs are by my friend Maggie. Thanks, Mags. It's nice to be in the pictures sometimes.