A beautiful start to September

Today ended like a long, slow exhale. I wonder if I should even write the words, because it almost seemed too good to be true.
It ended with the six of us sitting around our glass topped table, under the big green umbrella, out in the backyard. While Greg grilled, I had set the table while Liam played with Maeve on the back lawn and Fiona and Aoife perfected a pillow fort in the living room. We joined at the table and it wasn't until we were all eating ice cream for dessert that I realized how beautiful it was. Here we were, six of us, including the two year old and the one year old, and we were all still sitting here. We had all eaten our meals. I hadn't gotten up from the table even once. Nobody had cried to get down or asked to be excused while somebody else was still eating. We had all just enjoyed the meal together, and we still were. It was like we were... we were... six people eating dinner together.
This might not seem like a remarkable accomplishment. Clearly I am a person with a strong sense of family and one might assume a family dinner is part and parcel of this package. We do sit down, the six of us, every single night. This means five o'clock meals for Greg and I, but we're happy with this arrangement. We envision pleasant conversation, laughter, and good food... but you know the rest. Somebody isn't happy with the meal. Maeve starts to dump rice on the rug. Aoife needs to go to the bathroom. Somehow, it seems every meal unravels in some way so that we're almost never six people all eating and talking, as we imagine we might do.
But tonight, we did. It felt almost like a first, although it might not have been. The beauty of sitting there for so long, so pleasantly together, under the sunset-lit pines, needed to be captured.

And, rewinding, it seemed especially beautiful because we ventured out for the second time this afternoon to a new place we discovered that we call "Big Bend". It's a little further down the river that's behind our house. The river makes a huge curve and we discovered a big, deep soaking spot that comes past my waist and is wide enough to actually SWIM. The river is riddled with gigantic, glacial boulders and only 15 or so feet downstream from the soaking pool are all these pebbled islands that are perfect for the little girls to perch upon and throw rocks into the river--only six inches deep at that point. All around us in the river the boulders are covered with deep, green moss above the high-water mark and the land rises steeply-- and I mean so steeply that one couldn't possibly walk up it-- on the east bank where the old hemlocks are all that anchors the earth to the rock. It is so impossibly beautiful and I still can't wrap my head around the fact that my little children have this as their own backyard, their childhood, this beautiful gift we have given them.

Remind me, at all costs, I must never move.

My kids didn't fight once this afternoon, they cared for each other and played beautifully and it was magical. (and imagine that I choose this day to write... it paints a lovely picture, doesn't it?)

This day I chose to capture here because I can look back and remember, on the days where more squash ends up on the walls than in their mouths, where there is yelling and crying and despair, that there are days like this where the sun shines and there is beauty in everything.

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