For a non-traditional person, I'm pretty traditional where summer vacation is concerned. Since we homeschool, we decide when the new school year begins, and for us that is the day after Labor Day.
It's a good time to say good-bye to summer, which is in the process of saying good-bye to us. It's at this time of year that I always notice the subtle little signs that the seasons are changing - the difference in the afternoon light, the drawn-out mournful tone of the crickets' song, the appearance of cabbage butterflies and native morning glories. This year the temperatures are even corresponding with the changes, which is unusual. Coastal North Carolina seems to hold heat, and the dog days often drag into October. Tonight, though, it will drop down into the fifties here, which is almost an earlier cool snap than we're used to.
But I like it.
We always make a big deal out of the final official weekend of summer, and this year was no different. On Sunday we went with my friend April to Raleigh for the Carolina Reptile Show. Larry and the kids picked up frogs - a red-eyed tree frog, some dumpies and a horned frog, as well as a Blue Tongue Skink and some really spastic water dragons. Afterwards, April and I escaped to an independent bookstore she's been dying for me to visit. I found an awesome book on frogs and toads of North Carolina, complete with a CD of their calls. Lucas and I listened to it three times after we got home and I think he would have listened to it more if I'd not told him it was time for bed.
Today Larry and the kids spent the morning setting up the new pets. The door opened and closed dozens of times as Larry came through carrying large aquariums while the kids followed with lids, bowls and any other essentials their new frogs and lizards might need. I was excused from helping due to a writing project which I later abandoned for the canoe trip.
We put in on Shelter Creek near a popular fish camp where I used to work before I was able to support myself as a writer. It was late afternoon, and the snakes and turtles we'd hoped to see and photograph were long past sunning. So I focused on light instead. I took the above shot of the bridge over Shaw Highway about an hour before sunset.
And this shot I took of a riverfront Hobbit House. The kids called out to the hobbits, but no one answered. Apparently they weren't home.
We couldn't shoot any family shots like I wanted given our lack of a Fifth for the outing, but Larry did shoot this one of me and the kids. So here it is.
After our outing we enjoyed a dinner of cajun catfish at the camp before heading home and I caught up with Steve, the owner, who told Larry and the kids embarrassing stories of the days when I worked for him. I told a few of my own about him on the way home.
So that was my weekend. Simple and good, just the way I like things. I'm sitting in the chair by the open window now, listening to the frogs outside and testing myself to see how many I can remember from the frog call CD. I hear spring peepers, I think, green tree frogs and squirrel frogs, too. And maybe a Southern toad, but I can't be sure.
Tomorrow we'll wake up to a busier schedule as another school year arrives to test our limits and capabilities. If it's anything like the last year, I'll always end it amazed that I learned as much as the kids did. That seems to just happen - a kid will get interested in astronomy and the next thing you know you're learning how to program a telescope to track the stars. Or another will take an interest in frogs and lizards and you end up with a menagerie in the sunroom. Schooling goes from being a chore to being a joint venture. It's just another nice thing about being part of an active family, and I'm looking forward to it.