Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Summer" Days

If you live in Alaska, you know why I titled the post this way!

We've made the best of this crummy summer by blowing off whatever responsibilities we have whenever the sun actually shines. (Which it has been doing for two days in a row, so far, as it is only morning on the second sunny day.)

On July 4th, we went to a party at the home of some friends. The kids had the opportunity to recite (in front of an audience, finally, as usually it's just Jeremy and me that they perform for!) some excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. They each had their own part, and some were quite lengthy. As their mama, I must admit that I felt quite patriotic and even choked up to listen to the excitement, nervousness, and passion I heard in their voices. Ryley and Josiah are really beginning to understand and appreciate what it means to be patriotic. That was such an honor, and in the "audience" were even some real politicians! By the way, this day turned out to be one of the most summer-like day in the whole season. It was beautiful!

The other day Ryley and Josiah had some friends spend the night. The next day, they made an Alaskan Slip-N-Slide out of a couple of tarps anchored with rocks and logs. It actually worked quite well, and they had a blast.
Anna learned to ride a two-wheeler this summer, all by herself. One day, I did a double -take as I glanced out the window to see her ride by on our gravel driveway on Isaac's bike. (Hers, of course, still had training wheels.) I ran outside (to find out just what she thought she was doing) in time to see her take a jump that the boys had made!! YIKES! She is actually more daring than one or two of my boys. And she's really tough. It takes a lot of pain before she cries, and she's not one to quit even after a road rash!
SO....we took a LONG bike ride up at Eklutna the other day, and no one whined once. We rode probably at least 10 miles (thanks to the mile markers, I know this) with some stops for snacks and to play in the lake. We also parked and hiked down to the raging creek that dumps into the lake and everyone enjoyed getting wet. The only injury was when we were on a high bank above the "beach" and Anna's bike caught a rock. It catapulted her over the edge and she really would have had quite a serious situation if it weren't for the only tree on that stretch of the path, which "caught" her. When I heard her cry and caught up to her, I found her all tangled up in her bike and the branches of the tree. The only real evidence were some scratches on her face where the helmet didn't protect. The boys commented that they were glad that tree was there, and I agreed. The only thing that would have improved that day was if Jeremy could have been with us.
Jeremy went dipnetting in Chitna this year, as he does every year, and he had a very successful trip, even though he didn't limit-out. The run was quite low this year, and many guys got skunked, so I didn't complain when he brought home his 26. Usually I put up about 40 fish, some are frozen as fillets and I do a lot of canning with the rest. This year, we bought a Food Saver and filleted about half and smoked the other half. The smoking was a SUCCESS, as I am quite picky about the saltiness/sweetness ratio, and also the consistency of the fish. In fact, the guys at work keep asking him to bring in some more smoked to share. (I think I'm gonna have to get mean in order to keep much in my freezer.)
Jeremy's "trophy" was a 65 lb. King. The way he described landing the monster was hilarious. I so wish I could have seen it. The "hog" wouldn't die. He had to sit on it and said he probably looked like he was Bronc riding. The thing was trying to buck him off, and apparently he had to get quite violent before it would finally die. But he is delicious and well worth the wrestling match. Jeremy was happy to have his four wheeler this year. (He got a great deal on a once-used King Quad earlier this summer.) He also dipped a 40 lb. King, which is equally as tasty. All four of my kids love salmon, so we really do eat a lot of it. I decided last night that our smoked salmon this year is among my favorite foods.

Baseball season has come to a close and now we're on to football. This is Ryley's second year, and although I think his coach this year is immature (he got on Ryley's case about missing practice the day we went to Eklutna and has since made fun of him about going on a "little bike ride with the family") and seems to believe that if it's not football, it's a waste of time, he isn't too horrible and Ryley is learning a lot and having a great time. Although I love watching the boys enjoy the sports they've chosen, and the confidence they gain, I must admit that I'll be thrilled when fall rolls in and we have our lengthy-relaxed-cozy-bookreading evenings back. That's one reason that I do so embrace fall.

We hiked the Butte (we went the "easy" way this time) only once this summer. When we got to the top, we spent several hours there, eating lunch and playing all over the mountain side. I took my current read, and spent the time dodging grasshoppers and swiping them off my book as I laid on the blanket and tried to concentrate.

Yesterday, we went up to Hatchers to check on the blueberries. We also hiked around a bit, ate lunch (most of which we'd packed, then accidentally left behind), and played in the icy-cold creek. Well, actually, I didn't. It was chilly and windy up there, so I stayed on the shore and was the cheerleader when the kids all made it across a still, fairly deep and wide and very cold section to get to the other side and check out some stuff they were curious about. Anna had to cross in her panties and tee shirt, as she was short enough that her capris would have been soaked. Isaac should have, as well, but even though we were the only ones there, he was too embarrassed. So he just soaked his pants, instead. Ryley always soaks everything, no matter what precaution is taken, so he rode home in his boxers. Josiah, my meticulous one, was just fine and only a bit damp until his relentless brothers couldn't stand to see him dry and proceeded to splash water and throw mud at him. Who would we become, without each other?

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