The thing about the salad days is that you typically don’t recognize when you’re in them. You usually look back at a joyful time and say, “Those were the salad days.” Somehow, I was fortunate enough to savor the summer of 2010, knowing that those sweet, easy days were coming to a close.
Our future contained many unconfirmed options–Will he be accepted to IPAP? Will he deploy with his unit if he isn’t selected? Will we be living in our home for six months or two years? Should I start looking for a job or go back to school or find a home outside the military? Overwhelmed with unknown variables, I turned my attention to absorbing every beautiful moment of that summer.
Ollie teases me and says I run family recreation like a Girl Scout troop leader. I’ll own it. I typically have a running list of fun things to visit–local attractions, historical sites, zoos, parks, and gardens. I also have lists of fun things to do at home–craft projects, learning to cook, making a garden, playing in the sprinkler, having a water balloon fight, putting on a puppet show to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or doing a Hughes family “Mahna Mahna” video. (The last two haven’t happened yet, but they will. Oh, they will.)
My enthusiasm for activities often exceeds my family’s collective excitement. That summer was no exception, but I refused to sit around watching movies and playing video games when it was beautiful outside. I chased them out to do something almost every day; I took hundreds of photos. On Saturdays Ollie got up early, sneaked out of the house and hit the lake with his kayak to go fishing. Our puppy, Rosie, enjoyed those early morning excursions on the lake, too. He got the respite he needed to deal with the chaos of life for the rest of the week. When he returned, I insisted that we all go play outside somewhere together.
I was met with a lot of eye rolls, heavy sighs, and surly looks from the rest of them. I didn’t care; I could feel the clock ticking. Time was running short, but I didn’t know what was going to happen when it ran out. Despite themselves, they enjoyed searching for geocaches, seeing the new baby elephant, and playing in the waterfall.
The photos they protested are now treasures, reminders of a time when we could load everyone up in the van to go climb a mountain on a whim. “Soak this up, store it away to provide light in whatever darkness lies ahead,” I told myself. “These are the salad days.”