This happens to be a week when lots of kids are here, staying in cabins. During my first summer, it wasn't until mid-July that I heard the happy sounds of laughter, shouts of excitement, splashing at the lake--all those wonderful kid noises. I remarked to Sharlene that I didn't even know what was missing until they all showed up. But there definitely had been a void up to that point. I'm glad those days are back.
When our kids were younger, of course, we always had those noises around. Most of the time it was good, but occasionally we had to pull rank and call for some peace and quiet. I recently told someone the story of an early morning episode in which one of Paul's stuffed animals was being a bit too noisy for our tired ears. Paul was very good about supplying voice to all of his animals' thoughts. But before coffee, it was difficult for us to manage. This little animal was named Goldy, and we warned Goldy that he had to be quiet. It didn't work. After a few more admonitions, Greg got a miniature piece of duct tape, and carefully placed it over the embroidery stitches that comprised the little stuffed donkey's mouth. Oh my! Was Paul ever insulted over that one! He did learn, though, that his "old folks" needed quiet mornings in order to function the rest of the day.
I think that one of the best things about the old one-room schoolhouses was the fact that all ages of children had to be together each day. In theory, it seems like it would work well for the older kids to assist the younger ones, and for the little ones to emulate the big kids. In practice, it probably didn't always work that way, but a little influence must have rubbed off. It just seems best when there is a varied mix of ages around.
For that reason, I am so glad that we have a wide variety of ages of people in our neighborhood here on Gunflint Lake. It is not a typical and traditional neighborhood, since it is an area of seasonal residence for so many. But I value having neighbors who are in their senior years, as well as having babies and toddlers that we get to see on a regular basis. I think it keeps us all young.
My dad once related the story of traveling to a small town in Texas. He and my mom had promised friends that they would stay there for a few months in the winter that year, just to see what it was like. He said the hardest part was that it seemed like everyone was so old. It was all retired folks, some permanent residents, some just snowbirds. It was a community that welcomed children as short term visitors only. He said that finally one night, when they went out to dinner, the waitress was a woman in her late teens or early twenties. He said it was both a relief and a lot of fun to talk to a young person again. At that point, my folks had been raising kids for twenty-some years, and still had two daughters living with them at home. He couldn't imagine life with only old folks around all the time.
As I write this, darkness has fallen and the fireflies have come out. Our kids have gone to a campfire with friends, and all of the little ones must be tucked in for the night. It's very peaceful. But I am looking forward to tomorrow, when those little people have recharged their batteries and are running around outside, enjoying the nearly-endless days of summer.