Tag Archives: Summer

Last River Day With Rosie

When Rosie flew home last May summer seemed to stretch out endlessly before us. She’d be here for more than three whole months and we’d have plenty of time to do everything we wanted together. (Of course those first weeks in May felt more like winter than summer, but still.)

Now, that long ribbon of days has spun till nearly the end of its spool. And once again I find myself asking: How did this happen? Everywhere schools are starting, and  I know that folks all over the country are asking themselves that same question, where did summer go?

Once again I’m approaching that moment when say goodbye to my youngest daughter. She’s packing as we speak, and we’ll take off for the city in a couple of days. This time I’ll just drop her off at the airport with one final hug and kiss. I won’t be helping her to unpack and move into her new dorm, she’ll be setting up her first real apartment (in Boston) all by herself with her new roommates.

And this time I don’t have future long summers to look forward to. Chances are after two years at the university, she’ll be ready to branch out and explore internships and other career-building opportunities on the East Coast. Basically, we’ll be lucky to see her out here for a few weeks at a time in the future.

I’ll drive the hundreds of miles back to our empty nest in the northlands, trying not to imagine the crises that may befall her, the problems and adversities she will have to figure out on her own.

Of course, all of this is part of growing up and learning to be an adult. I mean how long can you coddle and protect your child? For heaven’s sake, she’s not even a teenager anymore! I mean, get over it Mom!

Sweet River Adventure

Rosie and cousin Teresa on the warm rocks overlooking the Trinity.

Tim is feeling melancholy about Rosie’s upcoming departure too, and that’s why we both took yesterday afternoon off and made a family excursion out of the fog and over the mountain to the Trinity River. Just Mom, Dad and Rosie, along with Rosie’s cousin Teresa, who is here on a short visit and soon to leave for the Peace Corps.

Aah, the beauty of our local rivers! It’s always the same story for me. I resist getting it together to go, thinking I can’t afford the time away from work and home responsibilities. Then after driving the hour and breathing in that warm mountain air, I wonder why I don’t make it a priority to spend more time out here.

Yesterday we visited an especially sweet swimming hole along the Trinity, locally known as Horse Lentil. I hadn’t been there in years. In fact the last clear memory I have of this particular spot is of carrying toddler Rosie down the trail in a backpack! Is it possible that’s the last time I visited?

To get there we hike a narrow trail down a steep incline for nearly a mile and then clamber over the large rocks. Then we are rewarded by an assortment of tiny soft sand beaches where we can bask in the sun and contemplate the spectacular views. The river bottom is soft on bare feet here, deep but with a mild current, perfect for swimming. The huge rocks along either side lend themselves to jumping and diving for the adventurous, but even scaredy cats like myself can jump off the low rocks.

In short, we enjoyed a family afternoon in paradise. Sweating after our hike, we shucked our clothes and dived in. Clean, refreshing and the ideal cool temperature that allowed for prolonged play – unlike the ice cube swims of earlier river visits. After paddling about for a while we climbed out, ate our sandwiches and pulled out the scrabble board. (Tim won of course.)

Tim relaxes alongside the water

Instead of swimming back over to the other side, we walked and swam upriver with the intent of letting the current carry us back down. How I wished for a waterproof camera! The shimmering water, towering rocks, and view up the river tantalized and entranced.

Enjoying an afternoon in paradise with my beautiful daughter

The huge flat rocks beckoned us, and we lay on the warm surface soaking up the sun, the calm, watching birds dip and sway on the sun sparkled water. A profound sense of peace encircled us.

“Soak it in, Rosie,” I called to my daughter as she floated and gazed at the sky. “When you’re feeling sick and tired of the sooty city, you can call this back in. You can let go of all that busy-ness and put yourself back here on this river.”

She responded with a nod and a faint smile. As much as she loves the river, and this nurturing community where she grew up – she’s ready to go. My baby has wings and soon soon she’s off to spread them wide and fly.

Take this piece of paradise with you Rosie!


Filed under Empty Nest, Rosie

Summer Slippin’ On

Still another week or two of summer color before the gladiola blossoms fade.

Gathering armloads of zucchini and sugar snap peas from our suddenly over-abundant garden, hopping on my bicycle (with shorts on!) for a fast bike ride to the beach and back,  hanging the laundry on the line where they actually get dry… it seemed like it would never get here this year, but the pleasures of summer have kicked in. Now I find myself guiltily grabbing the hose to water the dry soil in the potted gladiolas (gladioli?) so we can enjoy the blast of color of a few more days…and maybe hold on to the feeling of summer even as the light lingers just a little less each evening.

Yes, I know it’s not quite August yet, but Lammas is the day after tomorrow and that day (halfway between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, a pagan “cross-quarter” day) always signifies the waning of summer to me.

Rosie leaves in just over a month and this place turns into an empty nest again. Where did the last 2 1/2 months go?

Just one of the brush piles from the midsummer garden cleanup.

We spent seven hours in the yard and garden yesterday, clearing out the overgrown plant matter,cleaning up, and replanting. Spring’s bright blossoms have long ago faded, leaving withered stalks in their wake. Great as it felt to spend that much time with the plants, raking up those piles of spent brush gave a feeling of summer fading. Just after the Equinox I face Continue reading


Filed under Aging

Summer Kickoff: Kate Wolf Festival

Tim and friends chill at our Kate Wolf camp in the late afternoon sun

I danced on stage with Los Lobos! (The band – not actual wolves.)

Okay, I know this might not be much of a big deal for many seasoned music show attenders – but hopping up on that stage was a bold move for me. One of those “What the hell, I’m almost 50, what am I holding back for?” moments. And yes, I was fueled by a couple of potent margaritas, and sure the band had invited audience members up on stage while they launched into their encore of Grateful Dead songs, and it’s true I gained courage and inspiration by seeing a couple of close friends up there – but still.

I, Sarah O’Leary, who is usually too shy to go front and center actually hopped up on the big stage and danced with the band. I grabbed my sister’s hand and we ran through the crowd and hoisted ourselves up on the stage. Continue reading


Filed under General

My Girls Are Coming Home…

…Well, at least for a while. Seems this empty nest doesn’t stay empty for long

Ciel (left) and Rosie (right) decked out in their Bay to Breakers regalia. Super Women?

Rosie flew into San Francisco Friday night where she was picked up by sister Ciel. The two spent Saturday shopping for their costumes for the city’s Bay To Breakers race. (No, they weren’t running, just joining the revelers in the streets – I’m going to have to make it down there sometime for that party!)

Within the next week Ciel and Rosie will make the journey North to Humboldt. Rosie will be right back here in the Nest for the duration of the summer, occupying the bedroom referred to in her absence as “The Princess Room.” It’s so named for the posters of Audrey Hepburn that adorn the walls, not because we consider our daughter a princess – well mostly not because of that.

Ciel will spend the summer in Arcata as well. Her partner, Turner, wants to be near his mom while she is dealing with her illness. The reasons for their return to Humboldt are sad – but I’m loving the idea of  bike rides, frozen yogurt dates and summer camp-outs with both my daughters.

We’ll kick off a summer of mother/daughter bonding at the Northern California Women’s Herbalist Symposium. Both girls attended when they were little girls weaving herbal daisy chains in the kids’ teepee and both got to participate in the Maiden Ceremony held each year. It’s been at least five years since any of us have hung out with the Herbal Goddesses on that lovely piece of land, and we’re all so excited that we’re finally going to make it happen.

Then we’ve got three long months to slip in as many sun-splashed good times as we can.

Rafting, anyone?


Filed under Daughters


I know that’s a scientific term, but ever since I learned it – maybe in 6th grade – I’ve noticed how it can apply in my own life. If I get out in the garden and start weeding and digging, the time flies by, inertia takes over and I forget how hard it was to get my butt out there. In the same way, if I’m just sitting, perhaps reading a good novel, it becomes harder and harder to get up and do something else.

Inertia – it seems to have taken over my writing and blogging this summer too. The longer I wait to write a post, the harder it becomes to just do it. And so, unfortunately, the dozens of potential posts that have floated around in my brain while driving in the car, or settling down to sleep, or sitting at my work computer, are now lost forever in the ethers.

Must just start from where I sit. Nearing the end of summer – the summer that just so recently seemed to stretch out with a sense of endless anticipation. Now, only six days remain before Rosie and I leave for the ultimate destination of Boston University. School is about to start. My empty nest looms once again.

Of course, that’s my other excuse for blog-slack. The nest was far from empty this summer – what with Rosie’s presence, and countless friends and visitors occupying every spare room. It’s been a fun summer. It’s been a busy summer. And, unfortunately, it’s been a foggy summer – at least for the last month. The garden languishes, zucchinis mold before they can grow into edible proportions, the second broccoli round that we started after returning from our vacation looks like we just planted it a couple of weeks ago. Not all is lost however. Lettuce is happy. Tim harvested a bumper crop of beets a few weeks ago. Potatoes and onions made it through just fine. This is life on the North Coast of California, we can only hope for a sunny fall – which is really summer in these parts, just not as much light.

Tim brings in the beets. Crummy phone photo

When Dad and the extended family visited we took them to a Humboldt Crabs game. Here we are in our various poses of attentiveness. My niece Gracie in the foreground grabbing all the attention as usual. The Humboldt Crabs are are the oldest continually operated semi-pro baseball team in American baseball.

Rosie participated in Humboldt Light Opera's production of Pirates of Penzance this summer. Great show! Here she is in her maiden costume on Opening Night.

So yay, now I’ve done it. Pushed through the inertia and made a post – however inane. Now, if we can keep the movement happening, perhaps future posts will include some more vacation photos, updates on our approaching trip to the East Coast, and news of daughter Ciel’s summer travels and internship in Ecuador.

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Filed under Daughters, General

Ah, Summer!

Summertime, and the living is easy… Or make that busy. Or maybe it’s busy with all the fun summer adventures and activities that seem to swallow up all the loose moments that might otherwise be spent writing blog posts!

Playing on the river, 4th of July weekend, with the extended family

Just realized a couple of days ago that I hadn’t flipped my office calendar to July – and here it is half over. We’ve yet to sort through the hundreds of photos from our oh-so-scenic Anniversary Vacation in June, over a hundred e-mails continue to linger in my in-box no matter how hard I try to get through them, and I just finally downloaded all the information and documents I need to get signed up for payment plans and loans for to pay for Rosie’s first year at Boston University.

Let’s face it. Who wants to sit behind a computer screen when the sun is shining, the garden is crying to be watered, and July’s flowers are waving to me from the window. It’s hard enough to spend my work hours in an office chair in such conditions, forget about spending my personal time that way.

And it finally dawned on me about a week ago:  I am temporarily no longer an empty-nester! Rosie’s home and since I was off gallivanting on summer adventures without her for most of June, these are my weeks to hang with her. Staying up late to chat, watching movies, going to the gym. These are precious moments, I know, and there’ll always be time to hang out alone with my computer once I’ve left her in her new dorm room 3,000 miles away.

All that said (in my usual long-winded way), I don’t want to abandon this blog just because my daughter is distracting me and the sun is shining more than usual on the North Coast. Considering just a series of vignettes or photos to document and preserve the highlights of Summer 2010:  More on our tour of Arches National park (definitely one of the highlights of our trip), our stay at the Gonzo Inn in nearby Moab (a romantic retreat following our flash flood adventure and yes, named for Hunter S. Thompson), our sunset boat ride up the river to view more rock formations, shared with movie star Daryl Hannah who was traveling incognito of course (we thought we were going to hear legends and stories from the indigenous peoples of the area, but instead were regaled with tales of how the white settlers were entrusted by God to care for this beautiful land – YUK),

A quick photo before reaching the timber line in Rocky Mountain National Park

driving the highest road in America through Rocky Mountain National Park (we could have spent a week just there, but alas it was just a few hours),

Strawberry Hot Springs

Strawberry Hot Springs near Steamboat, Colorado (too bad we chose Father’s Day to visit, it must be so incredible when it’s not packed with families), the long haul home across Utah and Nevada while listening to Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning, the final somewhat ill-fated night in Reno at The Atlantis high-rise casino hotel (our good friend found it on Priceline for $50, but it wasn’t worth the anxiety attack I had wandering through smoky casino land trying to find the restaurant).

And there’s a short review of a packed week of adventuring!

And then after just two days at home to sort through the mail, water the garden, catch up on work e-mails, we were off to the Kate Wolf Memorial Festival – one of our favorite events of every summer. We share a camp with friends and family and play, sing, swim and dance for three days. This year turned out to be especially fabulous as the full moon glowed for the whole weekend, the temps didn’t top about 90 degrees, and the music lineup continued to inspire us for the entire weekend – Baka Beyond, Po’ Girl, Hot Buttered Rum, David Grisman, Steve Earle, Ani Di Franco – they were all so on their game that weekend!

My only regret was that Rosie couldn’t accompany us because she was scheduled to work at the coffee shop.

Home for another few days and then off again for a sun-drenched holiday weekend on the Mad River. Kids, river, sun, feasting…  Life just doesn’t get much better.

Finally last weekend, our first at home in more than a month, we got a chance to clear the roses of morning glories,

Summer garden bounty - Yum!

harvest the vegetable bounty and put in some new broccoli and lettuce starts, buy a table for our new deck, put together our new gas grill (Tim’s father’s day present), and generally experience the joys of summertime at home.

Halfway into the 4-hour job of assembling grill.

Voila! Success!

Well, this has definitely been a “diary-post.” But at least I’m back on blog!

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Filed under General