It’s the last week of June and time for our annual Ford family reunion. My brother comes from California with his wife Samantha and three sons Charlie, Luke & Hugh. Molly, Ben, Yankee and I arrive from the east, all converging with my parents at Canandaigua lake in NY. This lake is home to me in so many ways, evoking childhood family time at the Crumps, renting the little cottage next to the Olney’s, high school outings at the Ryans, and now the past 30 years of literally coming ‘home’ to the Bristol Hills just above the lake on the west side. This year, a cottage has actually been rented at Seneca Point below my parent’s home, right on the water, offering ample room and fully appointed with multiple decks facing the lake, hot tub, basement pool room, waterfront bar, argentine grille, fire pit, and of course the dock with kayak and paddle boat at our disposal. A lake dweller’s dream….
Everyone quickly finds their niche. Within minutes of arriving, my brother Rob discovers the argentine grille and barely leaves its side the entire week,
except to take the kids on their many forays water skiing and tubing in the gorgeous boat he has rented for the week….
Molly takes daily marathon swims, with me paddling alongside in the kayak for company and alternatively makes herself available for bonding with her newest and youngest cousin…
Ben tries out the kayak with great enthusiasm,
but that activity is trumped the rest of the week once he discovers the thrill of tubing. Charlie discovers the joy of being able to read one book after another when he isn’t water skiing.
And Luke is like the glue, moving around and engaging each of us in his circle of camaraderie when he isn’t indulging his own passion for water skiing. I love his persistence in asking for days “Aunt Kathy, do you want to play pool?” until I finally follow him down to the pool room and have a blast playing a game I also loved to play when I was his age.
Dad is the breakfast man, the proverbial short order chef, making endless pans of eggs as each person wanders into the kitchen. When that is done, he hangs down by the dock, the center of all activity swirling around him, often with cigar in hand, turning nut brown from all the sunshine we are fortunate to be having, or entertaining us with his smooth dance moves to nostalgic tunes.
Last but not least, Mom finds her favorite seat up on the house deck watching us all from her perch, there to converse and commune with on our many trips up the stairs to the house for whatever we need. She is my confidant this vacation, reveling with me as we sip our coffee, in the morning ‘letters’ I receive each day from the new love in my life. She plans and organizes the big family party the last day, replete with cousins and aunts and uncles from both sides of the family, honoring the 92nd birthday of her beloved Uncle Norm…
…while creating the context for us all to have memorable quality time together…
Early morning is my time. Before anyone else is awake, I steal down to the furthermost edge of the dock and practice yoga, surrounded by the soft lapping sound of the morning lake. I discover the joy of skimming the surface of the water in the kayak and spend hours moving slowing up and down the lake. I paddle out some distance, feeling my strength in the easy pull through clear cold water. Feeling like I am alone on the lake in this moment with just the rising sun low on the horizon, I stop paddling to sit and feel what the current of the water has to offer. It is a sublime feeling, and I know now this simple and primary way of being in relationship with the lake will now always be part of my repertoire of all things favorite.
Of course, what is a Ford family vacation without dancing with food! Most meals are collaborative efforts and all the better for it. I think the reigning favorite is the roast turkey w/ natural gravy Dad makes early in the week, accompanied by a huge pan of beans and greens that I make with over five bunches of fresh locally grown organic kale, and a huge pan of Thanksgiving style mashed potatoes that Ben puts his love and muscle into. Then there is the impromptu dinner down by the water a few nights later, presided over by the two who make it all possible for us to even be here…
with appetizers of Molly’s famous guacamole and Rob’s slowly grilled barbecue chicken legs,
Sam’s pasta w/ grilled tomato/zucchini sauce,
and a large pan of my marinated roasted veggies made earlier in the day. It is a magical evening filled with music and laughter, taking us into the dusk and another open fire in the stone pit, with more s’mores and more stories, and eventually, the June ‘strawberry’ full moon providing a spotlight for Molly & Charlie to jam together….
The next morning I come up for my breakfast to find a few eggs left from the four dozen purchased just days before. I’m really hungry after yoga and kayaking and leave the rest of the meat and eggs in the pan for my nephews and decide on a veggie version for myself. Saute some brown rice (yes, I make a big pot to have on hand for the week) with a sliced up portobello mushroom, chop up some of the marinated veggies from the night before and add them to the pan too. Whip up two eggs to pour over the cooked veggies and rice, flipping until the eggs are just cooked . Add some beloved Greek olives (which live on the counter of any house my father is in) to the plate and head out the deck….and smile. Of course I have to take a photo,
realizing that here too on this plate are all things favorite even if an odd combination, assembled in a way that allows for maximum pleasure, not unlike the assembly of this family in all its perfection and imperfection….
It is a good week and I’m wishing for more…hopefully same time again next year….