Friends and flowers are forget-me-nots

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Every June, as school ends, my boys spend a week at what we have come to call "Grandparent Camp."

Both my parents and my in-laws (who live out of state but in the same town!) conspire to watch my children for a week; with a pre-arranged schedule allocating time spent at each set of grandparent houses, along with combined outings. Can you imagine the magic my boys see in this venture? Can you feel the palpable relief my husband and I feel knowing that for one week out of the summer we do not need to figure out how to balance work with kids home on school break?

I miss my boys while they are gone, but I don't dwell on it. They return in due time, and there is gardening to be done while I wait, so after work each day, as I find myself with extra minutes, I spend them digging in the dirt. It was rough back there with all that rain, my plants stagnant in the yard, never growing. Then we briefly had summer-like days, more rain, and now finally summer has truly arrived.

June 21 and we've hit our mark. We are in our stride: Vermont is beyond green, it's blooming, and I am happy to be out in it, up to my elbows in garden dirt.

I work in my yard among my vegetable starters and seeds which have been planted and are beginning to secure notches on their growth chart. Already my forget-me-not flowers have bloomed, gone to seed and are fading toward over and done with until next year at least, but how I appreciate that burst of early spring color: sky blue with sunny yellow centers.

I walk the yard cutting off the scraggly forget-me-not remnants, this memory triggering flower reminding me of what's to come very soon my boys return home to me and in the same space of time, much anticipated and long awaited dear, dear friends arrive for a visit. If it sounds like a crazy fantastic way to launch into a weekend, it is.

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This company has previously arrived on many a Memorial Day, sometimes Fourth of July as well. Being holiday weekends, we find ourselves in town at parades, farm stands, or dairy bars, my family showing our guests the town sights. We bump into locals we know, also out and about with guests, and as year after year I chat with these people, a point stands out to me: most of us aren't just hanging out with our guests for the very first time, most of us have a strongly rooted tradition of making time annually to see each other.

This observation is what gets me most excited about the upcoming weekend and which the forget-me-nots remind me of. June 21 is not a holiday weekend, but it will still feel like a holiday to me since this is the moment on the calendar that my family and I will be spending time together with our good friends. Memorial Day did not work out, nor will Fourth of July, but even so, we've made a point that somehow, someway we will still have our annual gathering. The Summer Solstice adding extra hours of enjoyment to an already delightful weekend.

You know you're a grown up when even fun events are challenging to plan. It has taken a lot of effort to get to this point, but none of us are complaining. We remember all the impactful, past years together and it eases the juggernaut shuffling of calendars that it takes to get to here, where we are all together.

In past years, we have made many a smore together. Stoked many a firepit flame, caught many a tadpole and salamander at the water's edge. We have a kinship like that of family, except that we are not. Instead we are in an altogether inimitable category: friendship. Harmony and accord are easily attained here — a rapport often found in families, but always found in friends.

When company comes, you clean bathrooms, you prepare or buy a little extra food. In my house, I have a tradition of filling a thrifted vase full of flowers found in my yard. Nothing fancy, but still something to visually signal how welcomed our visitors are. How very anticipated.

I combine my remaining forget-me-nots from the yard with a handful of yarrow and ferns. Place them on the table in the vase, the returning sunshine highlighting the blue petals. My boys will be here soon, company too, and I am certain I will remember this weekend for many years to come.

Tina Weikert is a writer and outdoor enthusiast who lives in Bondville. She can be reached at amomentwithtj@gmail.com.


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