Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Story of Our Summer III: Interlude

When we got back from San Francisco, we all breathed a sigh of relief at the success of our traveling and went directly to bed. It didn't last.

First, Lauren graduated from Montessori school right after we got back. It was a pleasant ceremony, short and sweet. There was no head-shaking moment like the one when Tabitha graduated, where one of the 5-year-old graduates played his guitar and sang the old Paul Simon song, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." The mental images were a bit incongruous. This time was much less mind-spraining. There were a few short speeches, and Lauren sat there in her cap and gown, trying not to blow away in the gale-force winds. When her turn came she proudly marched up and got her certificate. Onward to kindergarten! Carpe diem! Illegitimi non carborundum! You make us proud, kid.

After the speeches there were games, most of which involved the finding and getting of candy. Can you ask anything more of a graduation? Why don't they do that when you get your BA? For graduate degrees, they could substitute wine.

A couple of weeks later, Kim went to Oregon for a conference on green chemistry and education, which is all the rage among the chemistry types who happen to be in education. The conference was in Eugene, a city where bicycles outnumber cars, green is the new black (so you know the organizers of this conference were thinking ahead...), and people who go into restaurants and order bacon cheeseburgers get escorted to the county line and given a gift certificate to a gym somewhere else. Kim loved it - she went on hikes, she ate good food that nobody else here would eat, and if it weren't for the fact that we're kind of cute she probably would never have come back.

Good thing the girls and I practice our winsome smiles. Those things are tough to do cold.

While she was gone I took the girls out for some disaster tourism here in our little town, which spent much of June under water. This is what happens when you combine 100+ inches of snow over the winter with record rains in the spring. Fortunately, we live up on a hill - if our house ever floods, our flooded house will be the least of our problems - but it was still a long, wet year. We watched the water flow down Main Street, then headed over to one of the bridges over the river to see if it would capsize, and when it didn't we went to the library where the water was creeping slowly up through the parking lot toward the green spray-painted line that meant "evacuate."

It was slow-motion excitement.

We did not go swimming in that water, unlike a great many other people who felt that it would be fun. The Darwin Awards people will never run out of material - you know that, right? No, we confined our swimming to the public pool, where the girls were taking swimming lessons for the second summer in a row.

They were actually pretty good at this - moving up the ranks, moving out toward the deep end of the pool, and all that. When I went through this process, way back in the early years of the republic, I just eventually grew tall enough to walk to the deep end, but the girls just get better and better at swimming out. They love being in the water, too - they would live at the pool if they could.

At the end of most lessons, the teachers would bring them over to the diving pool and let them jump. Both girls loved this, especially the low dive, which they would use to the point of wearing it out. They even went off the high dive a time or two! There is nothing that warms the heart of a parent like seeing their children flailing through the air into deep water.

Now where did I put that whiskey?

The key thing about the swimming pool, though, is that they have a snack bar there - one that stocks Tootsie-pops: Tootsie-pops that come in a variety of flavors, including (drum roll) watermelon! We did our best to eat all of those. And if the wrapper contained a picture of a horse or an arrow, well that was a lucky day that was.

They're all lucky days, swimming in the summertime.

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