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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!