Today we’re headed up to our family cabin in the Sierras. It’s an annual tradition, when we all brave the residual effects of winter in the mountains: snow, mud, rivers of icy snow runoff coursing through the lot the cabin is built on. Sometimes we get lucky and have a warm spell for Memorial Day weekend, and enjoy hikes, fishing, read-a-thons in the back yard, bonfires out back at night. Other trips have been punctuated by freak snow storms, torrential hailstorms, or neverending rain. While the poor weather trips aren’t the best for outdoorsy activities, they are some of my happiest memories, with the whole family sipping hot cocoa or tea before a roaring fire, doing puzzles and listening to music together, catching up in a way we never seem to under any other circumstances. There is no TV to entertain us, no telephone service (not even cell phones work in that pocket of the wilderness), no internet, just each others’ company and whatever books are at hand.
Whatever this weekend holds in store for us, I look forward to the family time and the break from our dependence on technology. There is nothing more relaxing than being totally removed from phone, email, and even US mail contact. There are about fifty cabins in the area, and neighborly visits are standard fare. We have several family members with cabins there, who we haven’t seen since our last trip up there in September, and I look forward to catching up with them, watching them fawn over how much my girls have grown, and the perfect beauty that is my seven-week-old niece.
We’ll return on Monday, slogging through holiday traffic with a dusty car loaded with dirty laundry, an exhausted (well-hiked) dog, and two sleepy girls who will, inevitably, refuse to nap in the car during the 4.5 hour drive home. We’ll collect the ignored mail, scan the un-checked emails, listen to voicemail, and watch the news to see what happened in the world while we were tuned out. And we’ll be toting a few new memories, too, of fireside family chats, maybe a long hike or two with friends, and big meals eaten at the long farm table my grandfather built. This has been a family tradition for generations, one I look forward to passing along to my children, and theirs.