Summer has been quiet this year. Yes, school is out. Kids are home. My kids are busy but they are older and more independent now that they’re older. They ask me to make coffee for them too. They sleep a lot. They spend time with friends. They study. They come up to me when I’m working and give me hugs. In a few days we will all be going to the Van’s Warped Tour. Oh boy.
We’re busy. Super busy. Yet it is quiet. Low key. Calm.
I keep my children close this summer. I trust them and let them do their own thing, but I keep a close eye. I trust them, but I keep watch, of others, of other things.
They are not followers, my children, so I don’t have to worry about them being twisted and turned in directions they shouldn’t go. Their young judgment is sound, or at least, I feel, more sound than others their age.
This morning, while my children sleep, I was out giving a rare drink to my drought stricken trees. Burrs and fox tails stuck to my shoes and pants as I hauled the hose down the hill to the orange and lemon trees. Not a green blade of grass was to be found. Leaves curled up due to lack of water and love. It reminded me of a story – something a friend recently told me.
Last night I was talking to my friend Ben. I Benjamin and I have been friends for a long time. He is also the father of my son’s best friend Randy. Anyway, he told me a story I’d never heard before. I knew he was a homesteader at one time but this is what I learned.
In the 1870’s Ben traveled to the Western plains to become a homesteader. He’d gone with his friend John, John’s wife Alma, his cousin Will and Alma’s sister Mary.
Life was hard and dirty. Bugs, mainly flies and lice infested their house. Everything was covered with dirt that could never be cleaned off. The human company proved to be no better than the insects. Will appointed himself in charge. In the isolation of the prairie he demanded obedience body and soul of the rest of the party.
There was no place to go. They rarely saw others. Life was harsh – not the new beginning Ben had thought it would be.
A year into the homesteading experiment, a visitor came to their sad farm.
Two men and a young girl stopped by and asked if they could stay for the night. One of the men, a Mr. Kent was a poet. He read to them by the light of an outdoor fire. Ben felt alive for the first time in months. The strangers spoke of news of the cities in the rest of the country. They brought books. They gave bars of rose scented soap to the women.
When the strangers were ready to leave they asked Ben if he would like to go with them. Of course the answer was yes. Ben begged Mary to come with them. He’d assumed they’d be married, but she said she would be Will’s husband.
Ben told her that she’d have a life of hardship under Will’s brutal hand, but she stayed.
When Ben arrived in Sacramento he asked Mr. Kent to turn him into a Vampire. Later he heard that his friend John had killed Will during a blizzard and left with the women. They went back east and Ben never heard what happened to them after that.
So while I picked stickers off of my shoes with one hand, a hose in the other hand, I thought of Ben’s story.
Where I stood, gold miners came to seek their fortunes in the 1850’s. The land went back to oak forests. A hundred and fifty years later houses were build. I moved in. Holy crap, I could never be a homesteader in a sod house.
Ben and I talked of our children and the adventures that they would have. Their adventures will take them many places, but I think, I hope those adventures will be all good.
“Are you still glad you became a Vampire?” I asked Ben.
“Of course,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In the quiet busy summer I’m trying to be inspired but trying too much. My blogging mind sometimes feels as dry as this drought.
It is funny how something like dragging a hose over a dry hill will bring stories to my mind. Or how a story from a friend will beg to be shared.
I hear movement from upstairs. I hear a cat running up and down the hallway. I hear my children laughing. Summer is here, but rather than dry, it is rich and blooming.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman