Amelia turned 16 last week which blows my mind. She'll be going off to college in a few years and that makes me nervous, excited, sad and proud. We've managed to challenge her with homeschooling and our plan is to take it all the way through with the help of tutors and classes at community college. This semester she's loving her first college level English class. It seems like just yesterday we were sitting with her while she felt like giving up on her first grade research project. I remember it so vividly, the table we were sitting at, the thoughts going through my mind, the real pain she was feeling. She is really an exceptional writer and I wish I could take some credit for that, but it's all her hard work and desire to express herself with words that's gotten her to where she is today.
This past weekend we went to a Deep Springs reunion which was the last camping trip we had planned for the year. It's the 4th time we've had the privilege of being invited to experience the magic of this valley. (Jonathan went to college here in the 80's) The first time, Amelia was tucked safely in my womb as we visited this isolated, all male college back in the summer of 1998. She hopes to go to college here in a few years if co-education is passed. We're crossing our fingers.
We arrived after dark on Friday night and set up camp near the dairy and promptly went to see if there were any calves. Sure enough, Richard and Frederick, two bulls born to the dairy cows were curled up in their shelter. They shyly came to the fence to meet us and we fell in love. Richard was born only 7 days prior and Frederick was a month old. They are the sweetest things ever.
The next few days were spent exploring the farm and the college, going to talks with other alumni, hiking, eating excellent farm food, and getting to know the students. Of course, a lot of our energy was consumed by the farm animals and wildlife. We were after all camping near the alfalfa field where the coyotes hunt at night for rabbits and we slept under the tall, ancient trees that the owls perch in. The first night in fact was so exciting with the chorus of the coyotes hunting that we barely slept a wink. And, it didn't help that the air mattress failed miserably and the tent blew every which way from the strong winds. Then the dairy boys wake up at dawn to milk the cows right next to our tent. So, between the coyotes yelping, the dairy boys milking and the owls hooting and everything else, I felt a bit ragged in the morning.
We were pleasantly surprised however to spend time talking with some students. Usually, they are extremely stand-offish. Most of the year, unless they get a visitor from town, these kids are completely isolated from the outside world. It's the isolation policy that makes this college so unique and while I understand, in the past it's been a bummer to feel like an outsider. I really want to get to know them and learn about their studies and life at Deep Springs. We were invited to plant garlic with them while we were there and had a really awesome conversation with one of the students. It really made me happy to see Solomon and the him chatting it up while planting garlic. It was a really awesome change from past trips and an appreciated shift.
Jonathan took us to see the petroglyphs near the college. What a cool place. It's hard to be in a bad mood (from lack of sleep) when there are so many unforgettable and special things to see. Of course a nice, (cold) shower in the basement of the main building didn't hurt.
Who had the most fun on our trip? Zephyr of course. He met the cows and wanted to go in and play with them which I highly discouraged him from doing. He met a new dog friend seen above. Her name is Annie and she belongs to one of the students. Her mama was abandoned in the valley while pregnant with her. She's the only one who got to stay while the others were adopted out. Annie and Zephyr were good friends and spent many a meal begging together under the dinner table.
We had to sadly say goodbye to the valley on Monday morning and on the way home we drove up the mountain to see the oldest trees in the world. The Bristlecones are pretty amazing trees, some here are 5,000 years old.
I'm glad to be able to write in this space again. Amelia has this agreement with me that if she writes in her blog, I have to also. So, you may see me here again soon. Happy Autumn to you!