Down To The River

by Stefani on 30-June-2009

My boy is back!

He was happy, full of good stories about camp, but also really ready to come home. What more could one ask? I'll admit it… I was sort of nervous that we'd get there and he'd ask to stay longer. I'm going to choose to believe that it was his dear mother that had him ready to come home, and not the fact that he was SO looking forward to air conditioning and showers made just for one. 

We spent our Saturday baking bread and cookies, cleaning up, unpacking (oh the laundry!) and more or less lounging in our pajamas most of the day. By Sunday we were rested and ready for adventure, so we headed to the lake (which is really the Colorado River). 

Seeking The Cool

This particular body of water is fantastic on a summer day because it is fed from the bottom of a dam. It stays VERY cold no matter the weather. 

Usually, we visit "our" lake during the week when it's like a ghost town, so at first I was rather put off by the multitudes of weekenders. 

Add to that the fact that I forgot my camera (the muddied photos here are from my phone) and the plates for our picnic, and we got off to a rough start. 

Seaweed Hunt

But when I settled in on my blanket with my book (My Antonia – so so good!), looking up between paragraphs to see all of my men splashing in the water, all together again, it was like exhaling. 

In the end, it was kind of nice, the ragtag band of souls come down to the river for respite. 

In the air was the smell of cigar smoke, charcoal and cooking meat. There was Tejano music and teenage boys bobbing their heads in time. Their contrived nonchalance was a show for the whispering, giggling girls who gave them sideways glances. 

There was a father, taking seriously his post at the grill and a grandfather looking over his shoulder in obvious skepticism over his son's ability to produce an edible dinner. 


There was a pink-cheeked baby asleep, mouth open, on a towel beneath a grandmother who fanned herself with a Reader's Digest. 

In the lake a young papa reassured a tearful, reluctant swimmer in pink arm floaties. Her mother waved a bottle of sunscreen at them and called out a familiar reproach in an unfamiliar tongue. 

Sparkling ripples circled a man who stood shoulder deep and pushed his lady along. She lay stretched on an air mattress. He dribbled water from his finger tips onto her stomach until she opened her eyes and gave him a smile that made me look away. 

The cicadas sang overhead, their songs mingling with the sound of boat motors, the laughter of my children, muffled conversations and contentment. 

On this day, summer doesn't seem like an oppressor. On this day summer is a timeless, hazy, coconut-scented dream. 



You can read all about cicadas, the official minstrels of summer, today at 
Ameya June 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Oh gosh, I miss the Colorado so much! Growing up I would spend summers with my dad in California (was otherwise with my mom in Ohio) & we would spend most of our time camping on the riverbanks with a tent & his boat (though neighboring campers always let us borrow their jet skis! Is that crazy generosity a 90s thing or a colorado river thing?). All my happy childhood summer memories are me in that water! I still get excited whenever I even hear the river mentioned. Love the photos! Makes me miss it all the more!

Amber June 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm

You’ve painted such a vivid picture. I miss my days spent at the lake as a kid. I think I need to pack up my own brood and find a nice body of water pronto.

Sarah Jane June 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Love, love, love Willa Cather!

grace June 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Sounds like a relaxing and wonderful day. It is nice when all the family is together. Our 6 yr old went to grandmas for a week and we (especially our 3 yr old) were so happy to see her smiling face when she returned.


Cassandra June 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Well, my dear, though I always love your photos, your words convey images in a different and very lovely sort of way. Like a REALLY good novel…

It really is summer, isn’t it?

Amber Carrillo June 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I agree with Cassandra – reading your posts is like reading a good novel 🙂
Great pictures painted with your words!!

steadymom June 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I’ve never been able to make it past the wolf scene in My Antonia – totally creeped me out. Maybe one day I’ll get that image out of my head and be able to read the rest!


gonzomama June 30, 2009 at 7:11 pm

feeling completely transported right now.

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Oh you are so right! That really was truly awful. But you must, you really really MUST skip over that part and read the rest. You’ll be so glad you did. I promise!

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

look at you making an old mama blush!
Thanks, girl 🙂

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm

This makes me so happy Ameya… the thought that my boys will look back on their river days with so much joy. Thank you for that!

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I’m besotted! I read My Antonia in my senior year of high school. I remember loving it then, but it is one of those books that grows with you. Then it was an adventure story, all about growing up and what the future might hold. Now it’s different…. achingly true in so many ways.

I’m on to “O Pioneers!” now, and so far it’s lovely. Any recommendations as to which Cather novel I should read next?

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Isn’t that the sweetest part? The way my youngest wrapped his arms around his brother, couldn’t get enough of him, when he got home… it just about did me in.

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

You two are going to give me a big head 🙂

Stefani June 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Get out there and get wet!!!

Anne June 30, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I can picture it all! Love this.

Melanie July 1, 2009 at 6:47 am

Stefani…lovely, amazing post! You really capture the feeling of that day! I always taught My Antonia back in my teaching days…such a good read (and an even more interesting bio about Cather). Happy to see some needed family time. Enjoy! We’re off camping for a couple of days to enjoy our own lake!

Cassandra July 1, 2009 at 7:07 am

Nothing wrong with a little flattery, sweet lady. Especially when it’s well deserved! (Maybe it’ll help keep your mind off the heat 😉

Lia July 1, 2009 at 8:20 am

Oh! I LOVED My Antonia in high school! I hadn’t thought of reading it now as an adult, but I think I will now. Right after I finish the Maisie Dobbs series. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

Kate July 1, 2009 at 9:13 am

What a lovely day you painted with your words Stefani. I could hear and see it all through your words. Sounds like you found a little piece of heaven that afternoon at your lake.

Stephy July 1, 2009 at 11:14 am

Thank you for helping me be more aware of my life. I spend so much time caught in my own mind that I miss what’s going on RIGHT NOW. I would love to know where this wonderful spot is! We are always looking for nice places like this to go with the monkeys 🙂

Dawn Suzette July 1, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Now that is another happy post! Wonderful!

Elissa July 2, 2009 at 7:38 am

now i need to go dig out my “oh brother, where art thou?” soundtrack! looks just lovely. how good to be mindful of just being.

Butzeballchen July 2, 2009 at 8:13 am

You almost made it sound not hot. Impressive as always, Stefani.

K July 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

Wow! What a post! I could hear and almost smell it all. My Antonia, so wonderful, and you’re reading O Pioneers to the guys! Fantastic! Do try Death Comes to the Archbishop, despite the title, I found it so relaxing and contenting (if that’s a word).

Stefani July 2, 2009 at 10:51 am

I will put that one on the list next ! Thank you!
I’m actually just reading O Pioneers on my own, I don’t think the guys would quite get it yet. I’m looking forward to the day when we can really read and discuss such things though. I love our read aloud times, but won’t it be something when we can really talk over the great literary questions?

Sam July 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm

You had me in a trance. I was hypnotized by your luscious words and I wanted them to never end. Can you please write a novel, so I can soak it all in.

artdeme July 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I just discovered your blog late last night (and went out and bought bandanas for a boy project today! SO cute!). I love your way with words. Honestly you painted a picture of your day by the water in a way photos could never do. Wonderful! I look forward to many more visits here.

Relyn July 22, 2009 at 11:20 pm

My Antonia is one of my favorite books of all time. I took a course on American women writers in college and did my special presentation thing on Cather. Remember the spine tingling Russian wedding story?

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