I had a fun confluence of events this past weekend that had me back in the Midwest. I was invited to speak in Chicago at a corporate retreat, and a cousin had a wedding Saturday night in Saugatuck, Michigan. So after my speech Saturday morning, I drove out on the Indiana toll road, taking an exit that led me past my old middle school, and drove up to my parents’ house right outside South Bend. Without my kids with me, it was like being in a strange time warp: here I am, changing for the wedding in my old bedroom, as if I had never left. The three of us drove up through some western Michigan backroads to the golf course where the wedding was being held.
The weather was absolutely lovely. There’s a certain slant to the light in mid-September. In late afternoon in the northern midwest, the sun is dappled, and the air is just barely warm. The green of the forest around us had a scent of its own. Sweet. Airy. Yet, as always in September, that sweetness is tinged with a melancholy sense of time passing, a promise of the coming cold.
Just a few observations from the weekend:
*I sat at a table with three of my father’s four siblings. They’re mostly pretty close in age (the three boys came in four years). While I’m sure this was overwhelming for my grandmother back in the late 1940s, I loved seeing them all laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and inflicting their stories on the groom’s youth pastor who had the misfortune to be assigned a seat with us. Sometimes when I feel a bit batty for having three kids close together, I picture them yukking it up at one of their kids’ weddings in 2070 and realize the folly of point-in-time analysis.
*On the other hand, seeing one of my cousins cart two fidgety children aged two and under out of the service reminded me why I didn’t bring my kids on this trip.
*Cake pops rule. I think all weddings should feature more cake pops and less fondant.
*My parents’ church is an evangelical congregation that has a ton of PhD students and academics — many in church history and theology (my father is a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures). This makes adult Sunday school class delightfully wonky. After a testimony about God being “safe” (as in, the importance of feeling safe in God) the first question whipped out a quote from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about Aslan being not safe, but good.
*My parents had a 3-season porch built as an addition to their house. It’s already too cold to use in the mornings for breakfast, which makes one wonder about the definition of “3 seasons” in northern Indiana.
*My mom has gone locavore. Sunday lunch featured butternut squash soup made from a volunteer squash plant that (if I’m remembering correctly) emerged from the compost. The salad featured cherry tomatoes from her plot in the church garden. They are not yet raising their own chickens in that 3-season porch, but just give them time.
*Personal finance tip: my parents have put off taking Social Security until they’re 67. Wise move (especially since they’re still working). For the majority of people, the numbers come out in your favor by delaying until then. For years, local Social Security offices would encourage people to start taking payments at age 62, but this seems to have been following much the same sentiment that has people getting refund anticipation loans: hey I have money coming! I should get it now! Even though this is financially suboptimal, to say the least.
*A few folks expressed amazement that my husband took all three kids for the weekend. I’m not surprised at that sentiment, given how things have been until recently, but I think if I were a guy, I would find this amazement kind of insulting. It would be like saying of a woman, “wow, she drove that car 200 miles all by herself?” Um, yes. My husband turns out to be capable of feeding the children, changing them, dressing them, strapping them into car seats and taking them on a bit of a death march through every child-themed attraction in the mid-Atlantic region.
Did you do anything fun this weekend?
Photo courtesy flickr user Josh Friedman Luxury Travel