“I love summer, especially when it’s not hot.”
“I do too, even when it is hot. But it’s going by too fast.”
We’re driving to Woodland, by way of the country road. We pass Steve, coming home from his golf tournament. We pass the barn where Kate learned to ride horses. The little gray one, Star, the first Casey, and her love, Luna. We notice the cornfields, and then the sunflowers, turned the other way, to catch the last of the sun.
We land at Michaels and I help her buy supplies to make tie dye t-shirts for her ten-year-old softball team. By help, I mean that I use my credit card and my pleasing personality to convince the manager to accept my 25% off coupon, even though I didn’t print the bar code. This is only the second time we’ve been in a craft store together. With the exception of tie dye and friendship bracelets made out of embroidery thread, crafts are not her gig. She doesn’t wander around with a cart full of what-ifs, she just heads to her project and gets her stuff. The same way she approaches most everything in her life. I make a side trip to the polymer clay, spray paint and yarn aisles, but we leave with (only) three bags of tie dye supplies.
Steve is in his garden when we get home, picking the first tomatoes and grilling chicken. The Tour is on, and we’ll watch two stages tonight. All six hours, fast-forwarding through the commercials. It’s the mountains this week, so not many riders-through-the-fields-of-sunflowers shots. The mountain stages make me nervous, all those people crowding the roads and the guy with the antlers. Steve and Alex think the fans are simply showing passion. She can’t wait to be one of them. Maybe next year, she says. The Schlecks are gone, Frank busted for doping, which means brother Andy (Alex’s favorite) probably did it, too. My boy George has also confessed to doping in the past, but he’s riding this one final time. We’re rooting for Wiggins, and holding our breath that his strength is is own. Love seeing young Thomas Voekler, who isn’t so young anymore, as the potential King of the Mountains. When Kate was 13, he was her favorite. I wonder if she even remembers. I’ll bet she remembers getting up at 5:30 a.m. to watch the Tour as it happened, laying upside down in the big chair.
I fall asleep on the couch to the sound of Paul and Phil calling the race, and Steve and Alex imitating them.
Alex heads to our room to read (after Steve takes her photo to upload for her university ID card…yes, Miss Alex, summer is going by fast). At 11:00 we trade places.
I can still hear Paul and Phil, mixed with the crickets through the open window. She’s on the couch, her new favorite place to sleep. When she was four she didn’t sleep in her bed for a year, maybe more. Instead she made a nest of blankets and pillows in Steve’s studio and fell asleep while he painted. She eventually moved to the book corner, by the fireplace in the living room, and then to the space between my side of the bed and the bookcase. It was weirdly wonderful.
This weekend the two of them are headed to Oregon State for orientation and class registration. Kate is teaching horseback riding on Orcas Island, sending texts and calling me on her one day off each week. Brendan is already in Chicago, starting architecture grad school and surviving the heat (such a Pacific Northwest boy). I ordered a new crafts book and one of those old-fashioned label makers (the kind with the raised letters, like my Grandpa Jim used), and they’ll arrive today. I love what-ifs.
The Olympics are coming, the calendar is full, and my home will soon be full of tie dye.