Saturday, May 12, 2012

Family reunion

We had a family reunion today at my brother's ranch--my family, his family, and his wife's family, thirty of us. These are wonderful folks, and we couldn't be luckier to have each other. It isn't clear in this fuzzy photo but there are nine under ten--one was sick and couldn't come, so my niece is also missing--but all day it seemed like there were about twice that many little kids having the time of their lives.
John and Cindy are generous, gracious hosts who go to a lot of trouble for their family. John has been planning this--especially the main event--for ove two weeks, and Cindy worked all day in the kitchen. The only person who can successfully help her is her sister, Jenny, so while the rest of us went on a hayride, Jenny and Cindy worked.

The hayride--the main event! Everyone piled on a flatbed trailer stacked with bales of hay. I must admit that Cindy's sister, Patty, her SO Ralph, and I followed in a Kobuto (think that's right) which is a small all-terrain thing--much more comfortable. Cindy's brother-in-law Kevin folowed on an ATV and midway, he and Ralph changed vehicles. The stock tanks are full, the pastures lush with various grasses and wildflowers--I saw a version of coreopsis and some purple things I couldn't identify plus some we thought were black-eyed Susans. Quite a contrast from last year when drought and high temperatures turned the land pretty barren. From the Kobuto, I got a great view of all the fun the kids were having. A new game: jump off the wagon and then run to catch up and jump back on. Not sure that's a wonderful idea, but no one got hurt.
The tour guide, my brother, stopped to point out various things--like the wildflowers (six-year-old Kate picked a bouquet for her mom) but this was primarily a hunt for Bigfoot. At one point, Jamie jumped out, sniffed some leaves, and declared that Bigfoot had come that way. The young kids fanned out looking for trail in all earnestness. But on the edge of one stock tank, they found it! Bigfoot's footprint! Here's Jacob, looking back at Uncle John, when he first saw the footprint.
As John said, that made the day, if nothing else. And then Jamie led the little children and some big in a searching walk around the edge of the tank--I was waiting for one to get too intent on searching and tumble into the water. Lo and behold, there was another footprint on the othe side of the tank! It was honestly a wonderful sight to see those kids so excited, trooping along in single file through waist-high weeds and grass, bending down to examine the footprint without disturbing it. I hope they'll remember this day when they're grown and treasure the wonder of it.
We had a bountiful meal--beef tenderloin, corn on the cob (Jenny stuck wooden chopsticks in the end of each piece of corn for easier holding--great idea!--they come with takeout orders from PeiWei and she had a drawer full of them), rolls, and then the things the rest of us had brought--my potato salad, Megan's marinated vegetables. We had snacked all along on Mel's veggies and dip, Lisa's black bean salad, Jordan's corn dip. We ate well, and it was so good. For dessert: homemade ice cream and Beth's cookies. Funniest picture oif the day: two-year-old Andrew who lost his balance and sat in the doorway, tumbling his ice cream and spraying it everywhere but not at all disturbed by his sudden seating. Here are my two gorgeous daughters:

There were games of horseshoes--Andrew thought collecting horseshoes (plastic) was his duty, but he had to be persuaded to part with them and stand away from the peg--and there was a riotous game of baseball in which everyone got turns batting and running to loosely (very!) defined bases.  Most of us sat on the porch and laughed a lot. The day was absolutely perfect, with a temperature in the 70s and cloud cover. As we left a few drops of rain sprinkled on us but that was all.
John and I never had the sense, growing up,that we were part of a larger family. John had Peckham cousins in New York--he spent some summer with his New York relatives and was close to them, but is no longer close to the few that are left; on my dad's side, I had one cousin in distant Canada--the last time I saw her I was about fourteen (she's part of my life now, but that's a different story). On Mom's side there were three cousins, and we lost track of them years ago. So it is a huge delight for us to have all these folks as family. Some of us only cross paths twice a year, if we're lucky, but it's always joyous, a time for celebrating--and the ranch is almost always the location of our get-togethers. It's not only a treat to be together, but for some of us a day spent in the outdoors is a marvelous change. (John always says I don't spend enough time outdoors, and he's probably right, but I loved it today). I've always known how blessed I am with my children and grandchildren, but once again today I was reminded of just how large my family is and of how grateful I am for all these diverse people with whom I laugh, joke, and feel loved, as I love them. My sense--and hope--is that as the years go by, these generations, my children and grandchildren, will stay close to cousins, aunts and uncles.
Tonight half of my immediate family is at my house, crashed. I know all those ten and under will sleep soundly tonight.
PS I read just the other day that it is legal in Texas to hunt and kill Sasequatch and Bigfoot. Good luck all you hunters!

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