By Sandy Barton
I love the sound of cars traveling slowly on gravel; it’s soothing and curious and full of expectation. It reminds me of nights at the drive-in as a child, me decked out in my summer pajamas, and Dad driving down the gravel path to find the closest spot. I always knew something wonderful was about to happen.
Our annual fall family vacation is now in the books, and it, too, started with a slow, soothing trip down a long gravel road. Something wonderful happened.
We came from east and west, north and south. We came in cars packed with diapers and strollers, car seats and food. We came with firewood and fishing poles, dog-eared books and comfy pants.
Grandchildren were released from their space-capsule confinement, adults bent and stretched, trying to realign their stiff spines, and eventually our time together began.
Seneca Lake was the perfect backdrop for early morning breakfasts and leisurely lunches. High chairs and high spirits were bookends at the dining room table that gathered us together each night for boisterous dinners.
Embers glowed orange and red as we sat around the campfire, bundled up against the night chill.
It was over the course of our time together that I noticed something else was happening – subtly and without fanfare. Life lessons were being taught by the 2-year-olds.
Lesson One: After being excused from their high perches, they immediately climbed down and shouted, “We have to run!” And they ran, and ran, and ran – up and down the LONG hallway – screeching with delight.
Moral: Run and screech and let it all out.
Lesson Two: Walking down that same long hallway every morning, I was greeted by those two, first Nora with, “I’m so ‘exciting’ to see you!” Then came Eli with, “I missed you.” My day was complete before it had even started.
Moral: When you’re happy to see people, tell them. It will make their day.
Lesson Three: The campfire, the dark, star-filled sky with a brilliant full moon inspired Nora to exclaim, “The stars! Hello moon! The fire is so beautiful. It’s perfect!”
Moral: Appreciate the beauty of our world. It is perfect.
Lesson Four: Bedrooms and closets were plentiful in the place. The closets were nearly bigger than my bedroom at home, so 3-month-old Ethan slept in one of them. We thought the hushed darkness would provide a secluded nest for him. We were wrong. He wanted to be where the action was; he wailed and cried and carried on, and on and on. Eli ran down the long hallway, reached into the Pack ‘n Play and touched Ethan’s head. “Stop crying. It’s OK.” And he stopped.
Moral: When someone needs to know it’s OK, stand with them and tell them. Sometimes your mere presence is all it takes to calm a troubled soul.
It’s true … time flies when you’re having fun, and our week together flew. Soon the sound of cars traveling on gravel began again, but this time it was not so welcome. The goodbye hugs, the so-long honks, the waves and the tears replaced that lovely, soothing feeling. But nothing can replace the lessons learned, the love shared and memories we made.
Sandy Barton, from the Town of Tonawanda, took a fall vacation at Seneca Lake.