the Rule clan has been getting together for a week every summer for the last 20+ years, and this past week was no exception. as one of my nephews is in his 20's now, i think that means we started the year he was a baby. it's become a tradition that's not missed, except for really good reasons like some of the years my brother was living in Ecuador, or Michael having a job that he couldn't afford to miss. but most years, it's been all of us, and that all now = 15. the first 15 or so years were mostly spent camping ... and yes, that would be tenting.
one of the exceptions was the year we went to the hotel in brown county state park in indiana, during which michael asked me to marry him (not for the first time, but it was the first time i actually accepted). that was the year too that we went crawling through some caves, back when my claustrophobia wasn't quite so bad. so, a fairly memorable time.
we stopped the tenting bit about 5 years ago, as it wasn't so fun or easy for my mom anymore, and it became a much simpler process for all of us to just get a house together somewhere for a week. far easier packing, smoother meal prep for 15 at a time, and stuff to do no matter what the weather. there was the epic tenting year that involved a huge deluge and high winds and flying tarps and lots of fun drama ... those are a thing of the past.
we always seem to find some form of drama however, and this year was no exception ... the electric golf cart that came with the house rental proved to be the kicker, as there were more paths on the 40 acres we had to ourselves than there was battery. it died several times, at varying distances from the house, and one rescue involved a fair bit of hunting and gps-ing and scavenging of batteries and chargers, though it ended up being solved by the loan of another golf cart from the campground on the adjoining land.
there were many games (loved learning Thunderstone this year), many songs, mucho fishing, many conversations, and many companionable silences. and waaaay too much food! i forgot to take a picture of it, but this house has been used as a guest house/retreat center for a long time, and so had the biggest table and best stocked kitchen of any place we've ever stayed. the table easily sat 16, and we could have eaten 3 meals without having to do any dishes. truly comfortable, easy, and spacious.
i try not to think about how many more years we'll have the whole family together, but just enjoy the times we do have, and savor the moments a little more fiercely. hug a little harder. feel a little deeper. watch a little more carefully. know a little more fully what it means to love, to grow, and to feel the passing of the years.
it was a good year, a great year in fact, and one that i'm very thankful for.
we spent one night in a campground after leaving the rental house, and then moved on to Crown Point Indiana, where we're starting some house projects for friends, and hoping that the rain doesn't entirely foil our plans!