Trudging up the hill after a long day, tired and wanting only to take a snooze in the afternoon breeze, I hear voices lilting through the trees. Topping the hill I see several guides sitting on the stoop the tent platform makes under the tarp. I realize they have gathered out of sight of whatever guests might still be milling around down the hill. They apologize for invading my space (it is a perfect place to sit out of the dampness), and although I am slightly surprised, I am also pleased to have visitors. I open the camp chairs, hang up the hammock, invite them to hang out whenever they want. I lay in the hammock, gently swinging, talking, laughing, watching the afternoon sunlight dance through the bright green leaves swaying above my head, teasing glimpses of blue sky peaking shyly between lush branches. This is better than a nap!
Sitting on the porch after the raft trip, all the guests well fed and on their way home, we guides tell our stories of the day. I am lounging on the bottom step, leaning against the step above, elbows back supporting me, legs stretched out, and bare feet rubbing on the small rounded rocks like a message, and toes curling into the warm sand. I am listening to the days events from everyone else point of view, laughing with my friends at the idiosyncrasies of the random people we interact with in this crazy world. I am looking out across the parking lot, letting my skin soak in the afternoon sunshine, basking in the summer radiant heat. There is a breeze blowing through the tree limbs across the way. I watch as they leaves dance and twist, the branches wave, and the tall white pines trunks sway back and forth. I am content, full of life, and happy for summer to finally be here.
One of my summer passions is hula-hooping, although I am a boring hula-hooper because I have only a few rudimentary tricks I can do. I have seen some mind blowing amazing hula-hooping action from some of my friends, but I seem to lack that kind of coordination. I like hooping to live music, dancing around in circles, hips swaying to keep the giant hoop spinning. The hula hoop makes me feel open and free, like I could fly away into those endless summer nights where laughter chases through your sweet dreams, and fireflies sparkle in your eyes. One of the rafting companies up here has a summer solstice party every year that I look forward to with the greatest anticipation. This year (as always) was worth the wait! Live music, scrumptious food, all my old rafting friends to talk to and tell stories with, and lots of new guides to meet and welcome to the lifestyle. I hula-hooped half the night, bare feet stained green from the grass, daisy print dress swirling around my knees, glow sticks swinging on my wrists. We danced, we sang, we laughed. I LOVE SUMMER!!!! Happy Solstice!
I am back up north in the Adirondacks, sitting with friends on a porch, watching nighttime slowly blanket the earth. We are talking and laughing, hanging out and enjoying the warm evening, slapping black flies and mosquitoes. A yellow crescent moon peaks out from behind a billowy cloud above the eastern ridge. I smile as we discuss the earth’s rotation on its axis, its revolution around the sun and galaxy, mysteries of astronomy and physics that give us our regular cycles of life. Then suddenly, up in the dark tree branches silhouetted against the night sky, one lone yellow green spark flashes. I sit up and point, but of course its gone. A few moments later, in a slightly different spot if flashes again. I realize its a firefly, the first one I have seen this year! I try to show everybody, but it seems only to flash when only I am looking in its general direction. They tease me about my imaginary firefly, my little star fairy spreading pixie dust through the pine trees on the hill. I see it several more times before it fly away out of sight. Fireflies are purely summer creatures, symbols of warm evenings and endless summer fancies. Welcome back little fireflies!
Two best friends and a new (to me) raft! What could be a better day for its first trip down the Hudson with me as its owner?! We three took turns guiding, playing the whole way down the river. Overcast but warm enough. Thinking it was going to be a sunny day, we didn’t top the boat off before getting in the water so it was a little mushy making all the waves bouncier, all the hydraulics stickier! Ended up accidentally surfing in a couple of spots, one trying to flip us, but we all high sided keeping our weight out of the hole. Floating out the last couple of miles, we laughed, talked, enjoyed each others company, lounged, relished another beautiful day on the River. This big blue raft is making many happy memories.
An amazing day on the River! The rain has finally stopped, but its cold! I have meandered up the river to a spot where some friends of mine and more of their friends have congregated for a camp fire. Beer flows freely, but I’ve had two, my limit, because I need to drive back to where my tent is. Darkness has settled in like a velvet blanket, soft, slow and smooth. The fire is warm and bright, with people all around, talking, laughing. A couple of guitars have materialized and soft music dances with the flickering firelight. I hula-hooped until I got tired and winded, then sat on a log to watch and listen. Orange sparks fly up in a crazy swirling dance when the burning wood shifts in the fire. I follow them up and see them mingle with the clear bright stars that look close enough to touch. Smoke billows upward in its own swirling dance illuminated by the orange and yellow flames. It is rather enchanting, this smoke rolling up into the night sky, as it leaves the orange light of the fire, I can still see from the blue light of the stars. People’s jubilant voices rise with it to mix with crystal star light. The air is cold, but I am warmed by friendship. A kinship of river guides, it’s a way of life here on the River, stories, campfires, smoke and stars. When I get back to my tent, I sleep a sound sleep of contentment.
I drove down to Westchester today to see an old friend who I haven’t seen he got married. He and his amazing wife now have two small adorable children. Three years ago, he suggested I could have some whitewater gear he’s not using anymore, so I finally made the trip. It amazing how such a short distance can hold such an immense gulf of immeasurable time and space.
People come and go in our lives, our immediate circle of friends is in constant fluctuation, although we don’t often notice because usually friends slowly fade out of the intimate Now of life. Oh, we keep in touch; Christmas cards and the occasional e-mail or phone call, but Life pulls us all in a dizzying myriad of different directions. Suddenly you realize its been 8 years since you’ve seen your friends, and you haven’t met their children!
Even though our current life paths could hardly be more different, the friendship is still strong and true. Conversation comes easily, comfortable, and relaxing, falling into place as if 8 years had only been 8 days. Catching up, shared memories, future plans, laughing smiles, and the immense gulf disappears into nothingness. Friendships are measured in heartbeats, warm, continuous, the hidden pulse that keeps us connected to to each other, even when we are unaware of or separated from that connection. Seeing old friends again is like a fire bursting into glorious flame from buried embers under the ash. Stir things up a little bit and you’ll never know what you will find. Cheers to old friendships, we all need a little unconditional love to lean on once and a while!