The forecast called for rain. But just on Friday. And Saturday. And most of Sunday.
I had spent hours in e-mail exchanges, trying to find a workable long weekend that would allow our large blended clan to accept a most generous invitation to join our friends at their cabin in Wisconsin.
This task required high-level negotiations and spreadsheets. I’m exaggerating, but not by much.
Between summer jobs and our work and YMCA camp and graduation parties, I penciled in, then crossed off, several possible dates until the approach of the State Fair and back-to-school shopping sent me into planning panic.
Even a not-from-here mother knows that summer isn’t complete without s’mores around a fire pit and a charming loon sighting from a canoe.
I finally got most of the clan, and a few of their friends, to agree to a three-day slot in mid-August, the only three days that worked.
Still, it was hard to ignore the weather predictions. In a word, precipitation. So much precipitation.
The reality of dark skies opening up with a vengeance arrived about the same time as did a list of comprehensive cabin instructions from our hosts. Stuff like security codes and laundry and a mention that there wasn’t any Wi-Fi up there.
Mutiny. It’s all I could envision. Rolling eyes. Complaints of boredom. Sibling fights.
Wow, did I sell these kids short.
Having Minnesota-born children means a lot of things. It means they embrace winter without coats. That they prefer brats to plain dogs.
And it means that they have so much to teach their mom about what cabin culture really is.
“Maybe we shouldn’t go,” I said to my youngest, Carly, even as I was packing a bag. “It’s going to rain all weekend.”
The kid whose childhood summers have been defined by intimate cabins and spacious lake homes, thanks to friends, threw me a curious look.
“That’s not why you go, or don’t go, to a cabin, Mom,” she said. “You go to a cabin because it’s different from being at home.”
So we did go.
And it was different.
Because we went bowling in the best throwback bowling alley in the Western Hemisphere, with the roof leaking and Prince music blaring from a jukebox.
And because there’s something really fun about shopping at a grocery store that isn’t the one you have to shop at four times a week.
And it turns out that you don’t need sunny skies to take a motorboat out on a lake. You just need a break in the rain to prove that a high-speed inner-tube ride is a kick even under cloud cover.
And loons still pop up out of the water, in twos, to thrill you.
And at night, when the rain returns, you learn that your kids know card games that you didn’t teach them. And they know how to play so many board games. When did they learn how to play so many board games?
And if you’re very lucky, the sky once again gives you a break after dark on your final night, for one perfect hour, so that you can gather around a fire pit and make s’mores. And then one of your friends delights you further by opening a paper lantern, lighting it, and sending it soaring into a blue-black sky.
And nobody for three days complains about lack of Wi-Fi.
On Sunday, we lingered over our coffee, washed sheets and made beds, cleaned up the kitchen, and then messed it up spectacularly by pulling everything out of the cupboards and refrigerator to make lunch. Nobody really wanted to go home.
On Sunday night, I was back on my own porch. The rains had passed and it was steamy hot.
And I longed for just one more rainy family day at the cabin.