Merry Christmas from Alabama!
The year has flown, hinting at birds, and it is true we have an empty nest. Yeats does not capture it adequately saying, “things are changed, changed utterly”. Our children are in 3 different time zones and no less than 500 miles away. We are adjusting. Young birds are pushed out but ours seemed to bolt.
Eli left for TCU (Texas Christian Univ) on August 11th and did not return until his Christmas Holiday, which we will spend in Steamboat Springs, CO. since Lindy has missed the last 2 Christmas’s at home out touring the planet. TS Eliot asks God to “teach us to sit still” but we Americans seem to be very poor learners.
When we left the Reynolds family story last year Eli had not settled on a college but winning the TCU Chancellor Scholarship for his first choice, sealed the deal. If before we were East Coast West Coast Southerners now we have to make some accommodation to Texas’ somewhat tiresome claim to be “special”. But Eli’s happy. As far as we can tell the only thing he lacks is boots.
Eli tried to play high school baseball this Spring and despite the rain succeeded ¾ of the time. The schedule was shredded and the team was slow in finding its rhythm but we still watched 34+ games in the cold/wet. Highlights from our right fielder were his 5 assists at home and third and a (3-3) 2-HR playoff game against James Clemens HS (relative of Samuel Clemens).
I visited Lindy in January in her new digs and gig at the “Boat. She is now a Level II ski instructor tasked with managing 3 year olds. Her nametag reads she is from Alaska. It apparently makes sense to the software that AL means from somewhere you can ski. Otherwise you would not be employed with us. I did some gravity assist sliding down mountains and remembered that skis are to feet like chopsticks are to hands. But I had my own personal ski instructor who was kind enough not to show me she could ski the double black diamonds.
We went with Eli to Miami and Key Largo for a graduation trip with 4 other couples and enjoyed the contrast of the hip and bustling Miami at a Marlins game and South Beach compared to the laid back land that time forgot in the Keys. The deep sea fishing was a highlight but fish are wiser (or scarcer) than they used to be and so we had a lovely boat ride in the Gulf Stream and our $100/lb. fish we did catch was delicious.
In June the boys and I did a quick 3 day hike on the Appalachian Trail. As an Eagle Scout I am chastened that my boys have not grown up camping because of their sports commitments, and I worry that their wilderness skills consist of a GPS app on their phone, but I think we all agreed that good boots, good backpacks, plenty of food, and no rain make hiking a lot more enjoyable. We did 12 miles a day which made those 24 mile/day through hikers seem Herculean.
Lynne remains “captain” of her summer swim club, a group defined by its shared foolishness: jumping in the water and swimming BEFORE DAWN. She brings the coffee and a sense of continuity (10+ yrs) while after finishing laps they all sit around feeling superior to the rest of us who haven’t woken up yet.
Hardy remains in Orlando going to school in counseling and coping with other people’s problems. Most of us have enough of our own and don’t wish for anyone else’s but you have to be glad there are those adept at lightening loads. His co-workers challenged him to do a ½ Ironman, a so-called 70.3. We meet him in Augusta, GA to cheer him on and were astounded at the number of people who torture themselves in this way. We were struck by the number of seriously overweight competitors that respectably finished the event. I’ll go ahead and give it to them, they are not fat, merely disguised athletes. He is still considering seminary, somewhere.
The Reynolds’ siblings and associated family gathers at the beach every other year in a noisy 9 or 10 room house and so we did for Thanksgiving. Many people would not call 34 people in a house a vacation and it’s not a vacation, it’s boot camp for new attendees. Someone goes and gets married or has a new boyfriend and they are then trained in the ways of the clan. Traditional pursuits include the 5k turkey trot, golf tennis and beach volleyball. Those that can’t keep up take long dreamy walks on the beach to retain their sanity.
Lynne and I hosted two Open World Forum visits this year; one in February and the other in early November. Guests from Tajikistan and Ukraine stayed with us for a week while they attended a State Department supported week long program on Transparency in government and anti-corruption. The February program was snowbliterated by an 8” snowfall that cancelled all their meetings. Two scientists, who had never been to America, flew from Dushanbe to HSV and hung out with a dentist and his wife for a week. Perhaps their take away message was that there is no corruption in America because no one works. The Ukrainians in November were delightful young people. Idealism is infectious and it remains incredibly embarrassing that everybody else in the world speaks 5 languages and our own better than us.
We watched the second Republican debate and lost all interest in the political process and began going to movies in an orgy of escapism. We cheered the returning Martian before, in reality, even having a rocket able to return to the Space Station. The Spotlight should be shown on a number of our malfeasant institutions but journalism doesn’t want to look too closely at who writes their checks. And as for the Heart of the Sea—well it’s about time for Nature to win.
We took down the old flag in Alabama this summer and now have a Christmas banner up. One hundred and fifty years late could be considered glacial change but global warming has a lot of unexpected effects. Peace and goodwill to all!
Drew & Lynne