Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lying on our backs and counting the stars...

It was just like looking upon an old photo--the memories of hiking, playing pool and ping-pong, eating around the large dining room table. Except this time it was so much better than a photo...

I drove slowly up the now-paved road, convinced I had made a wrong turn somewhere. "Clem Mark is on a dirt road," I explained to Rich. "It's on top of the mountain--somewhere over there," I repeated again, waving my hand in the general direction of more nowhere.

But as we crested the next hill, there it was, nestled among the very same pines, across the street from the very same barn, it's wide back porch looking out over the rolling Appalachian mountains.

I slowed down. I wanted this to last forever, never to end! I had never thought to see it again. When my father had been laid off ten years ago due to "corporate restructuring," we had thought the company lodge was one of those things now past. The summers of star gazing, hiking, and romping in Tioga County were over--or had been over.

We were the last to arrive--the rest of the family who had said they would go had left for the lodge on Thursday night, but I couldn't get off of work Friday morning. I had to wait with grand impatience as they all called to say they had arrived, or had just left, but now I was here as well.

A great time was had, new memories were made, and most of the in-laws were introduced to the tranquil escape of our childhood. Many of them thought it a myth, others a rumor, and yet others that it must be 20/20 hindsight that made
Clem Mark so grand, so peaceful, so... Seventies decor...

Of course, the seventies decor remained, and rather than being a gaudy sight, it was a comfort. The barn across the street may have a new roof, there may be a few more houses dotting the roadside on the way up to the lodge, the road may now be paved, but here--here at Clem Mark, time had stopped.

And indeed, through the eyes of my nieces and nephews, I saw the magic come alive again. "Can we play pool?" "Who wants to play ping-pong?" "Are we really going to hike all the way up there?"

We did "hike all the way up there," and then some. Wine tasting, feeding the horses, playing games, talking, catching up, resting, and of course, the gratuitous eating. It wouldn't have been a family vacation otherwise. And the nights spent sitting out on the grass, watching the stars? The Milky Way so clear you could just reach up and take a swipe! Shooting stars seemed to also make their home here (along with a few "UFO" sightings! LOL!), and between the utter darkness of the night, the complete absence of traffic, people, and lights, and the knowledge that we would always have this together--
this night, this moment, this vacation...

Who knows if we'll ever get there again--indeed, I don't expect the opportunity will come again, if only to keep my hopes from getting too high. Rich made sure to capture every waking moment, even going so far as to record an entire breakfast around the large dining room table! Many photos were taken, and though some very dear and wonderful people couldn't make it, hopefully, if the opportunity does come again, this time the pictures can be completed.

Of course, these moments go all too quickly. Before we knew it, Monday morning had come. Time to clean up and clear out. Leaving wasn't as hard as I expected, if only because too much of a good thing never can stay as good as you expect. If I had the opportunity to stay, I still don't think I would choose to, if only because it would ruin the magic, the small place of reality where time does stop and memories last forever... But where new ones can still be made today...

10 comments:

Sylvia said...

It truly was a great time. I loved those pics by the way...lol anyway, thanks for the beautiful recap of a fantastic weekend...
lots of love - Red

QUASAR9 said...

"My conscious tells my subconscious that I'm anti-social; my reality corrects my conscious to bend to the will of my subconscious... which kind of sucks. After all, we are slaves to our minds whether we like to admit it or not. I'll still claim to hate people, though."

Still, not a bad life - eh?

Ann said...

I'm still waiting for your blog on McCain's vp pick, Sarah Palin. I thought you would have a book to say about that by now lol

DaBich said...

Nostalgia ... but live and in person.
I can tell you had a great time.

Love the new pic!

Jason Hughes said...

Thanks, Dabich!

We had a great time (and yes, Quasar, it is still a good life :D).

Pics are all courtesy of my sis, Sylvia... :D

Jason Hughes said...

Oh, and I'm working on it, Ann! Like I'd let McDupe off the hook....

mom said...

hello jason! ever since i got home it seems like i am having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. it was so nice to be there! you hit the nail on the head when you wrote this one! very good! love and prayers

mom said...

hello jason! its me again! how lucky you are! :) i just found the pictures that sylvia took of everyone at clem mark and they are all so good! don't why i am writing about this but i got all excited to see the pictures. i still like getting pictures in an envelope. i am just old fashion i guess. well, i am going now. love and prayers

Jason Hughes said...

Oh, and I'm working on it, Ann! Like I'd let McDupe off the hook....

mom said...

hello jason! its me again! how lucky you are! :) i just found the pictures that sylvia took of everyone at clem mark and they are all so good! don't why i am writing about this but i got all excited to see the pictures. i still like getting pictures in an envelope. i am just old fashion i guess. well, i am going now. love and prayers