The cool, green, leafy canopy hangs high over my head as I walk the worn dirt path to the small office. Campers of all sizes align both sides of the road. Full timers have made their sites their second home, having added wooden stairs, decks, or porches as well as flower gardens or hanging potted flowers. I reach the office, a small wooden building with a social hall on one side, and walk up a long ramp to the mailbox. The “mailbox” is really a large rack, laiden with assorted mail, which campers sort out, for themselves. A small, but immaculately clean, inground swimming pool is in back, surrounded by a chain link fence. Another ramp leads to a bathroom, complete with a newly installed tiled shower.
It is quiet, here, especially since Covid-19 regulations have limited visitors to two per site, per day. I am grateful we can have anyone here. I have had each of my seven, grandchildren stay, overnight. My two thirteen year old granddaughters came, first, followed by my 9 year old grandson and his 4 year old sister. Finally, my 15 year old granddaughter came to visit.
Beside swimming, there is not much to do in our retirement community, but my grandson was able to amuse himself, outside, when he was here. Picking up small, fallen tree branches from the pine covered ground and holding them on either side of his head, he said, “Look Grammy! I’m a deer!” and later, “I’m a moose!” My four year old granddaughter sat at our brown painted picnic table, sorting out matching picture cards. Earlier, she had picked up a sparkly, then a smooth grey rock from the ground for safekeeping.
I had purchased a paint by water book for the kids, before they visited, which was a big hit. Both kids painted about 5 pages, and I was able to keep one from each child to display on my fridge. This, along with dry erase boards, coloring books, and a scratch off hangman book, kept the kids happy when we weren’t swimming. Of course, we did swim in the little campground pool, using our foam noodles as floats or make believe snakes.
I thought the little one would have trouble sleeping in our trailer, overnight, but her brother, lovingly, brought her to the bathroom around 2 a.m. and encouraged her to go back to sleep. Later, my grandson confessed he did not get much sleep that night. I was surprised that he took such good care of his little sister, without waking me, but then reasoned he felt responsible for her, not being home. Still, I was quite impressed with his care and concern for her.
We took them to Golden Corral before returning home. Covid-19 rules were in place. Servers scooped our selections on our plates, as we were not allowed to touch the serving spoons. I did touch one, by impulse, and it was quicky replaced with a clean one. The kids chose pizza as their main meal. We wished we had taken them to a pizza joint, instead. Oh, well…
But, today, is a quiet day. What started out to be bright and sunny day with puffy, white clouds, has turned out to be a cool, cloudy afternoon with a possibility of rain. Earlier, I had taken my Bible, outside. Clearing the picnic table and bench of some dry, pine needles, I sat down to pray. An overhanging cloud kept me comfortably cool until the bright sun burst out, causing me to seek shade. I hoped no one would notice as I chose to sit on my neighbor’s deck, under their low, canvas awning. A charming, low, white fence partially surrounds the deck, making it look like a little porch. There is even a table with two lawn chairs, which I felt compelled to use. I knew I had no permission to sit there but I couldn’t resist the idea of continuing my devotional in comfort. A verse I wrote in my journal reflected my mood. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he is good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6.
Two weeks have passed since that day under my neighbor’s awning. We just had my 15 year old granddaughter stay overnight. The first thing I noticed was her newly cut bob, dyed one half blond and one half dark brown with purple highlights. It perfectly framed her pretty round face, which showed a blush when I complemented her. I was just getting used to the two toned color when, later in the day, she announced that she was going to change the blond to orange. I had hoped she would change her mind, but I heard, this evening, that Lilly has already colored it. Oh, well, hair grows.
While she was here, my granddaughter showed me how to make a mexican style chicken meal with white rice, corn, shredded chicken, taco sauce, and diced tomatoes. I had hoped we would cook, together, and I appreciated the change from my husband’s and my rather bland diet. I didn’t ask for help with the dishes (I never do when my grands are here) so my granddaughter was free to pick out a show on the TV. Unfortunately, she picked a recorded video game which takes place after an apocolypse. There were man eating creatures, as well as “infected” zombie type people, that needed to be killed for the players survival. My husband and I were horrified by the killings, and tried to talk our granddaughter into a different show. Finally, on the second day she put on a TV show about teenage witches which was even more horrible than the video game saga! Seeing how grossed out we were, she finally settled on a new Disney cartoon show. That, was about witches, too, but the characters were cute, at least. The content of these shows concerned my husband and I. My sweet, innocent granddaughter is being indoctrinated by messages of revenge and the occult. She was surprised and offended by our reactions to her choices, so I gave her several hugs, telling her how much I loved her. Still, my granddaughter was unhappy that I did not like the Disney show and I felt bad that I did not have the opportunity to share my faith in a positive, loving way.
The following day, I took a walk around the park. Wishing my teen granddaughter’s visit had been better, I peered up at the tourqoise sky, watching the tops of the pines sway in the light breeze, I prayed for forgiveness and guidance. Guilt from not being able to share my faith, effectively, weighed on my heart. My earlier efforts had come from a desperate, not a trusting, place. As I poured out my sorrow, I asked the Lord for guidance and found solace in Psalm 25:17-18. ” Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away my sins.” And finally, “Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” Psalm 25: 20. I know I am forgiven because his word tells me so. I can rest, knowing God the Father will work all my circumstances out for good.
My two 13 year old granddaughters, who visited earlier than the others, are great friends beside being cousins, so I always pair them together when they visit. It was cloudy the first day but they ventured into the pool, anyway. Using my red noodles, they blew plumes of clear pool water and splashed around, trying to keep warm. Shivering, they both climbed the stairs, wrapped their towels around themselves, and said they were ready to go back to the trailer. I made supper, while the girls put on a video game from U-Tube. The constant killing bothered us and Grandpa suggested the girls choose something else. Little did we know, then, that another game, worse than this one, would be played, weeks later. Around 11, grandpa and I turned in for the night. Hearing giggles and feeling the trailer rock, a bit, from movement, I fell asleep.
The next day was hot and sunny so I joined the girls in their play in the pool. Using our noodles, we blew clear flumes of water in the air. Then using the noodles as a seat, we floated lazily while I listened to their stories. I noted how the girls were more sedate than in the past, not splashing and jumping off the sides like the the little ones love to do. Still, they seemed to enjoy themselves and I was content with that.
After lunch, I took the girls to the Christmas Shop at the Mills Shops in Granby, Connecticut. Wearing our multi-colored masks, we opened the door to several heavily decorated Christmas trees. One was decorated for Halloween, but the others were decorated for the traditional holiday. Sparkling ornaments glistened in the low lit room. Each tree was trimmed full with ornaments from clear crystal to blown colored glass. Walking down a narrow hall, illuminated with tiny colored lights, we admired the nativity sets, of various sizes, and blown glass hummingbirds hanging on metal trees. I saw a figure of Santa Claus kneeling at the baby Jesus’ manger seemly hidden on a lower shelf, in the corner. I wondered if the owner was fearful of someone being offended by its message and was peeved at the prospect of that. Moving on, I admired the glinting miniatures of breakfast food, cowboy toys, rocking horses, snowflakes, and animals. It was then that I noticed the girls had lost interest in the ornaments and were admiring the squishy toys that looked like frosted doughnuts and cupcakes. I bought them each one and then left for home. Road work caused a bumpy ride home. We took advantage and let our voices vibrate, laughing how silly we sounded.
Not all our grandchildren will come to visit. Our grandsons, two who have autoimmune diseases, are being strictly guarded against Covid-19. I understand the parents’ concern but we are well and will return, soon, to Arizona. I have little hope for a reunion with them, this summer. However, I hope I have made some good memories with the grandkids who came. I am grateful for the time I have had, and look forward to times ahead with them and the rest of our family.
One thought on “Summer in the Pines”
Good memories can do so much for us. When we are sad or feeling helpless, we can remember that there is a God who Loves us so. Thank you for sharing. You write beautifully. Not all school teachers can do that gift.