Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hunting Island 2012

We had a wonderful trip to Hunting Island for our yearly beach camping trip. We extended our stay to three nights which made the trip that much more relaxing. This year the Morrisons and Vaughns accompanied us giving us a record kid to adult ratio. Including the one new Kruidenier still living within there were six adults to twelve kids. For reference text generally refers to the image it follows.
We hiked a beautiful forest trail to the lighthouse which somehow I failed to capture on camera. Packs of savage youth carried palm swords, palm bows, palm knives, and palm clubs, scouted the uncharted terrain, and endured several skirmishes. All survived. And no, in the picture above my head does not grow larger, that's just my hair in full retreat. Jennifer however does grow larger and we are now seven weeks away from due date.
The Morrisons (above) posing for the lighthouse shot.
The Vaughns (above) pose for the lighthouse shot. Matt Redbeard (yes I had a bit of beard envy) and Kallie are friends from Boone who we haven't seen for I don't know how long. But let's just say I don't remember all those sweet kids. Matt and I have stayed in touch over the years and it was a treat to hang out with all of them.
On arrival, Thursday, the beach was balmy and warm. We were able to play in sand and ocean. Unfortunately we also had an evening of rain and some really high wind. It's a gamble camping at the beach and we always feel the dice are loaded in our favor. But Lady Luck is a fickle friend...

We traveled with bikes this year for the first time. They were great for riding around the campground and loads of fun on the beach. Watching your child speed across the beach with hair flying, water spraying, muscles pumping, and that look of sheer uninhibited joy, is one of most pleasurable experiences a parent can know. 
Jennifer is at the final faze of this pregnancy. It has been remarkably uneventful. The little guy or gal is quite the kicker. Just the other night on the couch the girls were giggling watching Mom's tummy move. Here's a twist of cultural expectations: the great state of NC which houses some of the most liberal (I think they like the word progressive, but...) counties in the country bans home-birth midwifery. Oh, the tyranny. The renowned and proud state of SC, butt of all vile and racist redneck jokes and routinely vilified for its traditional (I think liberals like to use the word "backwards") ways, welcomes home-birth midwifery. Go figure. Point SC. We are thankful for the very traditionalist stand that SC takes on midwifery. Affirming midwifery is not liberal, it's traditionalist.

The kids played a bit of chess during a rainy evening. The Morrison and Kruidenier kids slept in this large 6-8 person tent that I, by duty, bought from a friend some years ago after we borrowed it and my dog chewed it up before I could return it. On our windy night Julian awoke and found that all the kids were sleeping with their legs in the air. He found his dad who promptly restaked the tent with some heavy weights. Apparently the wind was so strong that the front of the tent had become unstaked and would have blown to who knows where had the kiddos not weighed it down in sleep. The funniest part was that only Julian woke up. The rest of the kids heard the report the next morning.

The camp life gets more efficient every year. Learning how to cook, how much food to bring, what kinds of kitchen tools to use, and how to keep sand where it belongs is not easy.But we enjoyed oatmeal, pancakes, burritos, soups, and more.

Happy folks at the top of the lighthouse.
More happiness at the top of the lighthouse.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Hunting Island is the veritable graveyard of trees that lie unburied on the beach. One can almost walk to the lighthouse without touching the ground. The kids played the game well trying to traverse the trees without touching the ground. By the end some very interesting rules had developed: extra lives, the allowance of a palm leaf on the ground thrown between two hard to reach limbs, a hierarchy of who goes first, etc. Most fun to hear are the disagreements that ensue when one sibling thinks they've been slighted or have caught another sibling touching the sand. Kids have a strong sense of justice and fairness.

This tree graveyard is an unavoidable reminder of the effects of time and change on all aspects of material life. The island itself is eroding. Here for a while and gone soon. Efforts to preserve it in its current state appear doomed to failure. Man wants so badly to stop time. Stop change. But striving pales compared to the much larger forces at work in nature.
And so the kids grow and change.
They climb higher, take more risks, cry less, understand more, ask more interesting questions that I don't know the answers to, and look to their guardians less and less.
There we were. Smiles and all. And I want to stop time and stay. Not the kids though. They do it right. Play!
They look, reflect, and enjoy it for what it is right now. While I wouldn't for a moment trade adulthood for a return to childhood the kids do a good job of reminding the kid in me to quit thinking and dive in!
I like the above picture. This is how I often feel: out on a limb, precariously balancing, looking for a next step.

A boardwalk down the road from the park where we hike through the vast flat tide marshes.
A tidewater creek where we met a host of tiny hermit crabs(correction from daughter: not hermit crabs!). Each courageously guarded some small sandy home while raising their single large claw as if to say "crab power" to any approaching outsider.
 A view of the world from the top of the lighthouse. Yonder out in the ocean the same lighthouse used to sit. But the land was overcome and the lighthouse was moved to its present location. 
A view of the moon and reflected light through the dune grass by our campsite.
The kids call the emerging dark soil on the beach "whale poop". It's perfect for ruining the only clean clothes one has left or for unintentional mudbaths. 

I have omitted much of pain and more of pleasure. Who wants to read about grumpy spouses, disobeying children, unclean bathrooms, or curses thrown to the wind and rain. But it was all there. I've probably already forgotten more than I remember.

So ended a time of communion with friends, a respite from daily toil, and a few moments of clarity. We find this tradition gets better every year. Thanks Morrisons and Vaughns for a memorable trip. We miss you.


William Kruidenier said...

Great pictures and commentary -- good to be able to return to a familiar place year after year to see its changes and build memories on memories!

Scott said...

Can't wait for next year's trip. Who knows what will unfold in life before we put up the tents again.

Anna said...

Beautiful. So thankful to have shared those moments with you all. Miss you all so much.

Lesley said...

What a beautiful place. so glad you guys have this tradition. I am also glad to see the girls wearing the hats we gave them awhile back! Love you guys.