By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales
I missed my mom’s 84th birthday last week. I had to work so I could not celebrate with her in person. I called her and confirmed that I was coming up to visit the next day to take her to lunch. Mom mentioned casually, “we may have a few chores for you to do.” I smiled inwardly and said that will be okay, you have me all day.
Mom and Dad looked great when I arrived. They are still in their house in New Freedom, PA, the home I grew up in. We asked Dad if he wanted to join us for lunch, but he said no, you go ahead, I have a few things to do.
Mom and I had a short drive over to one of her favorite restaurants in Shrewsbury, PA. I had a Blue Cheese Burger and she had the Crab Dip with Pita Bread. We had a nice time catching up on family news.
Then it was time to drive back to her home and get down to business. “Dad has a few chores for you,” she mentioned. I smiled in anticipation. Sure enough dad was up by their pool in the back yard. We headed on up. Mom pointed out a beautiful red flower my cousin Larry had given her during last summer’s Family Reunion.
My dad at age 85 still enjoys doing chores and yard work. Perhaps not every day, but especially when he has one of his four sons or some of his grandchildren home to get a project done. He was re-arranging sand-filled bags around the pool cover. Project one was to help fold in the cover a bit and help him re-position the bags.
It is fall so project two was putting away the furniture around the pool and the gazebo. But first we needed to rearrange the garage a bit. We shifted a table and the pool blanket a bit. We made sure the chair covers were on top and easy to access.
Then I got started carrying furniture down the steps from the pool to the garage. My mom was ready to help. My dad suggested it might be better to let Bruce carry things down the steps while she and my dad arranged things in the garage. Dad did help me bring down the table. “We rest things on top of the table and the chairs,” he shared. My dad is very organized, he visualized the spaces where everything will fit, repeating the pattern from the prior 10 to 20 years. I nodded agreement and brought down the rest of the chairs.
Project three. “Go ahead and bring the chair in from the front porch,” suggested Dad. These are heavy spring steel porch chairs. They brought back memories of doing similar chores for my grandmother Summers who lived a few blocks away on High Street in New Freedom. My brothers, cousins and I got these chairs out in the spring, washed them with soap and water, and then worked in pairs to carry them to her front porch. As an adult, I am proud to be able to haul these chairs by myself, heavy and awkward though they may be.
I asked my dad, “How old are these chairs,” I had been moving them to and from porches for 50 years. “I remember they bought them after we moved to New Freedom,” Dad shared, setting the date range from about 75 to 80 years old.
Two of the porch chairs were arranged next to the table from the gazebo with the third resting upside down on top of the first two. Project four. We were ready to take down the awnings. Dad looked over at the wooden step-ladder. Ah, more memories. How many times did I use that ladder to precariously hop onto my parent’s rough from the top of the ladder so I could clean the leaves out of the gutters or to fetch the Frisbee that got thrown up on the roof by mistake? Then there was always that slight leap of faith back down onto the top of the ladder, you know the part that modern ladders warn, “do not step on this part”, to get back down.
Luckily I only needed to go up two or three steps to help take the awnings down, but just looking at that ladder gave me a bit of an adrenaline rush and another inward smile. “Ok, you rest the bottom of the awning on the top of the ladder as you release the latches, I have the other end,” my dad instructed. As usual, this worked great. We folded up the awnings from the screened porch and then carried them together to the garage. We laid them across the top of the table from the gazebo and the porch chairs. “See they fit perfectly,” my dad observed. They fit perfectly to the inch I concurred.
I put the step-ladder away. “What about the volleyball net,” my mom asked. My dad assured her that my brother would take care of that. I took a quick look around the yard. The asparagus bed looked clean and had gone to seed for the winter, as per plan. The leaves had not started falling yet, so that would be someone else’s chore. The Pearl River, NY maple tree looked healthy, I had transplanted that from my other grandmother’s home when I was ten. The High Street maple tree my dad, my brothers and I transplanted with a backhoe from the canning factory was also looking good.
My mom and I walked out to the front yard so I could get a picture of her by the blue hydrangea in the front garden. The garden looked good. My dad pointed to towering oak tree in the front yard. “That will need to come down before winter,” he shared. He pointed out the crack in the trunk. Then we discussed how they would take it down without crushing the sign post and garden on the corner. This was another chore for another day.
Arrival in Paradise
Continuing from Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise
We continue to climb. We finally reaching Paradise with its sweeping view of Mount Rainier peak.
As promised there were alpine wildflowers everywhere.
We had booked our second night at the Paradise Inn
We checked in then headed out to join a ranger walk on one of the trails. The paths were covered with meadows of wildflowers at their peak.
The views of the mountain, the trails, the meadows and the flowers were spectacular.
There were more waterfalls.
A great view of the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier
We could hear and see the water rushing out of the bottom of the glacier, the headwaters for the river we had crossed and re-crossed earlier on our way up the mountain.
After our hike we thanked our ranger and headed back to the Paradise Inn. We were still unpacking in our rooms, it was getting towards dusk. Just across from our room we saw Paradise deer grazing. They seemed to also enjoy the wildflowers and the setting.
While the ladies settled in to relax a bit before dinner, Mike and I took a drive down to Reflection Lake hoping to capture a reflection of the mountain in the water.
Our timing was good. The sun’s rays were at a great angle.
But there was a little bit too much wind, causing ripples and waves on the lake. We could only get part of a reflection in some of the sheltered backwaters of the lake, not a full reflection.
However the late in the day sun’s rays did a great job illuminating flowers along the trails by the lake.
We headed back to the Lodge to enjoy the sunset, a bottle of wine, a relaxing dinner, and a good night sleep to prepare for a full day of hiking in the morning.
Our Trip to Paradise – Part 6 – The Sunrise at Mount Rainier National Park (To be posted soon)
The Road to Paradise
We stopped to view glacier fed rivers
And stopped to see and admire views of Mount Rainer as it loomed larger and larger as we climbed the mountain to Paradise.
This waterfall seemed to have a permanent rainbow in the spray as it cascaded down the mountain.