Describe your ideal vacation. Does it involve going into a dark, wet, hand-carved, dead-end tunnel with a group of energetic pre-teen boys? If so, today would have been your day.
The last time my children and my nephews were together was July 2019, pre-pandemic. Their reunion during this week of March Break has been, well, loud. In two short days (and today isn’t even nearly over), they have done a “Polar Bear” dip in the lake (54F/12C) – then done it again because their aunt offered them $25 if they do it five times for five minutes and they love money, met their (adorable) baby cousin, convinced their grandfather to take them tubing even if the water is ridiculously cold, gone to (distanced) church, played Dungeons and Dragons (with my partner as their patient Dungeon Master), talked about D&D until we forced them to stop, exhausted their grandparents’ dog (who did not know this much non-stop action was possible), watched 40 gazillion episodes of The Simpsons, and gone on an adventure to Stumphouse Tunnel.
The Stumphouse Tunnel was carved into a mountain in the middle of nowhere South Carolina before the Civil War – apparently as a potential train tunnel. I would be able to tell you more about it, but we didn’t have time to stop and read the signs. We *did* have time to go to the end of the tunnel, climb over top of the tunnel to the peak of the “mountain,” have a picnic, and then go off-trail and clamber down the nearby Issaqueena Falls. The day was gloriously sunny and warm (at least for those of us from Ottawa).
After a few hours of climbing outdoors the kids were almost worn out – but not quite. They contemplated Laser Tag but opted to come home. We’ve played the family version of Cards Against Humanity and some of the adults (ahem – me) took a nap, but there’s still spaghetti pie to make (it’s pi day) and apple pie to eat and at least one movie to watch.
I’m exhausted and as happy as I’ve been for a while: writing on a couch with a cat curled up next to me, listening to boys laughing in the next room, to one boy and his grandfather cooking, to my partner and my stepmother deep in conversation.
Happiness sneaks up on us, doesn’t it? Even when your vacation day involves hiking in a cold, wet tunnel.