23 August, 2011

Time passes....

Location: Check, Floyd County, Virginia, USA
WAAAAAHHHH!!!! AAHuuh AAHuh AAhuuh AAHuuh!! WAAAAahhhh---.... uurp!

Babies. They're loud and wonderful and beautiful. And they're porous - they leak from everywhere. But he's so handsome and precious.

We're up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia visiting Mark's son Jeseph and his family, Emilee and baby Baylen. Emilee has left us to watch Baylen while she goes to the library to do some work. Baylen and Oma (Julie) are out on a quilt in the yard. Baylen's belly is full and he's sound asleep and Oma is happily reading Hemingway's “The Old Man and the Sea” for the first time. B'da (Mark, pronounced “BUH-dah”) is enjoying the cool quiet, the sounds of the countryside, and the slow coming and going of sun and cloud. He is also taking various random detours down memory lane from when he used to live in this area. Remembering living here with his family – Jeseph, his older brother Zac, and their mother; revisiting old regrets, some gentle and slow, some knife-sharp; tender moments with family and friends; wild and happy times making music, working, playing softball and volleyball, and just plain general carousal. All three of us are about as content and happy as it is possible to be.

Let's rewind to a couple of weeks ago...

Our oldest grandchild Alex comes up to visit us for a week on Rachel. He's 9 ½ years old and loves being on the boat with us. He's been going out on boats with us since he was a baby and always seems to enjoy his time aboard with Oma and B'da. We sail over to the Chester River and spend several days gunkholing, swimming, and exploring in the dinghy. Then it's time to head back to the dock so we can close up Rachel and go visit our three other grandchildren for 2½ weeks.

Time passes....

We decide to take the train from Baltimore, Md to Lynchburg, Va where Charlotte will pick us up. A friend drops us off at the train station about 10 minutes ahead of schedule and we get on the train. It's so much nicer than flying! No security checks, no arriving an hour or two before your scheduled departure time – it's actually quite pleasant. The conductor helps us find four facing seats so we can sit together and we're off. After the stop in Washington, DC we find a table in the cafe car and play games for much of the rest of the trip. The cafe car is closed about an hour before our arrival in Lynchburg and we return to regular seats where we read quietly until we arrive. As always, Alex is a great traveling companion!

“Look! There's Mommy!!” he cries as we prepare to disembark. Sure enough Charlotte's standing on the platform scanning the passengers as they exit the train, her head turning left, then right, like she's watching a tennis match from center court. We step down, she spots us, and there's a flurry of hugs, kisses, and “I'm so happy you're here!”s.

After a two hour drive we arrive at Charlotte's house in Radford, Va at 9pm. Alex is too excited about going home to fall asleep during the drive, although we doubt Emma, our 3 yr old granddaughter will still be up. Boy, are we wrong! We open the door and hear gleeful cries and are nearly bowled over as she runs to greet us - especially Alex, whom she has missed terribly for the past week. Kelly ushers us inside, welcomes us in his usual generous and genial fashion, and we settle in for a week of visiting, catching up, and playing with Alex and Emma.

Time passes....

We borrow a car from friends and drive up into the beautiful mountains to Floyd County, where Mark lived for 15 years, and his son Jeseph spent his first 6 years. Last fall Jeseph decided to return to his roots and bring his daughter, Tigerlily, and lovely, pregnant lady Emilee with him. Baby Baylen was born a month ago and this is the first time we've met both him and Emilee! Unfortunately, Tigerlily is away, visiting her Mom in Hawaii. We're really going to miss seeing her this visit. We discuss getting together with her somewhere on our way south later this fall with Jeseph, who'd also like to get in a couple of days of surfing.

Back to the present...

Little Baylen's tummy and bum are making lots of funny noises. Poor thing seems to be most comfortable lying face down on an arm, walking and gently bouncing around the garden looking at things and feeling the cool breeze. He especially seems to like having a running commentary on where we're going and what we're seeing. So Oma, B'da, and Baylen are playing tag-team, taking turns walking around, bouncing, talking, singing, Khronicling, making lunch, tidying up, and generally enjoying this precious, precious time together.

Missing large portions of our grandchildren's lives as they grow up is probably the most difficult part of our cruising lifestyle. As we age and they continue to change so quickly it's getting harder and harder to leave them and head out again. Their laughter, smiles, joys, and sorrows tug at our heart strings. They are such wonderful little people.

Time passes....

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel