all I ever wanted

Summer lends an extra layer of sentimentality to certain things, the sky full of rabbit tail clouds, the sun painting even more freckles across Tolliver's face. Hank's hair can't seem to decide if it's blonde or brown, and his skin covered in face paint and temporary tattoos and chalk dust, the atmosphere of creation hangs around his body like a mist.

The season is also testing my listening muscles. Did you know crocodiles cannot stick out their tongues? I'm remembering summers when my eyeballs were sore from all the requests to Watch me! Now, reports on the microenvironment at the bottom of the community pool make me feel a little crazy. Maybe the swamp of July arrived too early, heavy and cloying, like a warm hug. That heat, combined with every out-loud fact and knock-knock joke there ever was... I don't know, it all feels like a hair shirt of conversation or of weather or whatever, it all feels like so much. Not to mention the cooking - turns out everyone needs to eat dinner every single day.

But at night Hank still asks to be tucked in and I imagine wrapping blankets around all the hope that lives inside him. I imagine the boys grown and gone, able to make really good conversation and maybe, on occasion, a really good meal to share with me. Right now though, despite the ceaseless talking and the constant cooking, life is really beautiful. 


Dublin & London

Returning to Wales, without sounding too dramatic, may've felt for some of us like a long overdue step in our own evolution. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is reduced, the veil diminished. All five of us found places in Wales that made us feel something larger than ourselves, as though we were held between worlds, beyond experience. But also the boys fought occasionally, just like they do in Ohio, over things like who got the last chocolate croissant or who had to sit in the middle of the backseat.

While our actual vacation was filled with abundantly fecund landscapes and gorgeous coastlines, before we took the ferry to Wales from Ireland we did a bit of city sightseeing. We arrived in Dublin very early the first morning and, after covering more than twelve miles on foot, made it almost to dinner before we crashed at the hotel. Highlights included a peek into Christ Church and a tour of Trinity College (with a bonus cricket game) Temple Bar and the Dublinia museum to learn about Viking history. Up early the next day allowed time to tour Kilmainham Gaol, a fascinating space with a sad history (one small piece of the true story is told in Rod Stewart's song Grace).

At the end of the trip was London with the double decker bus and the red phone booths and the very bustling feel of a very big city (we just missed the World Naked Bike Ride by one day). We squeezed in guards at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Eye, plus one last pub meal at Nicholson's.


Wales, part 3

I'm not sure what to call it, the name for the nostalgia you sense in a place you've never lived, but that feels like home? 

Surrounded by the ocean on three sides, Wales is the only country in the world to have a continuous waymarked path along the entire coastline, an estimated 1,680 miles. Encasing the western foot like a protective green slipper, the Pembrokeshire coast is peppered with blue flag beaches, never more than ten miles to the sea from any spot.

From our converted cow shed situation it was a short walk along Bosherton's lily ponds to Broad Haven beach, a beautiful bucket and spade spot with plenty of sea caves to explore. We went one evening, stayed for several hours, and determined to spend the entire next day there. Once the Ministry of Defense completed live gunnery exercises at Castlemartin (Tolliver was thrilled to hear battle tanks firing), the road was reopened and we were able to see Stack Rocks and the Green Bridge, covered with breeding guillemots. We spent another day strolling the narrow, pedestrianized streets in the small seaside town of Tenby, nestled behind imposing medieval stone harbor walls and surrounded by picturesque pastel colored buildings.

Wales boasts five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and three National Parks. We aimed to explore the most exquisite spots, but it turns out that likely could have been anywhere in the country. 

Our land is a living thing, not a grave of forgetfulness under our feet. Every hill has its history, every locality its romance, every part of the landscape wears its particular story.
- from the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea