Once again the campus has been happily over-run with friends and family and sprouts--more of that latter group than I expected. Families have expanded and changed since the last time I celebrated the summer solstice here.
Everyone has grown older, this I knew, though it still somehow surprises me that Aidan is seven and not remotely a baby anymore. I mean, I remember seeing him nursing. And Charlie's brother, Mario, died a few years ago, as I'd known. But there are whole new families, too.
One new family is mine--my brother and sister-in-law are both here, and all three of their kids are sprouts--Paul, Ruthie, and Chris. As you can probably tell, my family likes Biblical names. Another belongs to the new treasurer, John (not to be confused with my brother, also John). He has a complicated family consisting of children from the wife he divorced, a child from the wife he buried, and two step-kids, mostly all grown, and starting to present him with grandchildren (who are now sprouts). Also, two more of Charlie's innumerable nephews have married, and one has sprouted twins.
My older niece and nephew are right in the middle of all of this--Paul and Ruthie are five and three, respectively, so John-the-treasurer's three grandkids fit right in--Kyle is four, and Justin and Aimee are both three, so the five of them form a developmentally similar sub-tribe and spent most of the day running around in a group.
Chris can't keep up. He's only two. But Janus and James, the twins, are eighteen months old, and he can play big brother to them.
Anyway, between visiting former students (Willa was here, of course), former faculty (Chuck and Malachi were both here, although Joe S., my old boss, was not), spouses, sprouts, former sprouts, parents, and various other hangers on, I think there must have been well over four hundred people on campus.
Good thing there was extra food.
Two pigs' worth of pork barbecued, fried, and smoked alongside kebabs of mushrooms and onions, tables practically sagged under bowls of steamed greens, salads, baked goods, cheeses, honey, and fruit, and later there were custards and pies and strawberry cake. From about 10 AM on, there was always plenty to eat and always a line up around the tables.
Not surprisingly, my Dad got in there to help with the grilling. He said it was extra-delicious because of "Kretzman magic," though, just between you and me, food here is always about equally delicious. It was good to see my Dad participating--weird that he used the word "magic." Maybe he's starting to come to terms more with what we do here.
I spent most of the day running around with Paul and Ruthie and them--kids their age are much more capable, and much smarter, and much more fun to be with than they get credit for. The day was hot, but not dangerously so. The older kids rode their bikes down to the lake to swim in the afternoon, but the littles were too little to go without an adult, so they ran around in the sprinklers we had set up to wet down the area around the Man.
The Man. This year he was an attractive purple and pale green of phragmites and loose-strife, all tied up with various vines and filled with notes written on little fluttering pieces of paper for the Man to take with him to the Spirit World when he burned.
I didn't see him light up this year. I didn't watch the sunset from up in the tree, either. Instead, I was so involved in playing hide-and-seek with the littles (I am very good and hide-and-seek, by the way. Being a naturalist helps) and totally failed to notice either until it was too late. When it got too dark for us to seek each other, we hunted lightening bugs until the various parents came to collect their children and left me to my own devices.
"Should I fetch you home to bed, too?" said my Dad, when he found me.
"Just cause I act like a kid doesn't mean I am one," I told him.
"Tomorrow, you'll be a married man."
"Yup, that I will."
"Where's June?" he asked.
"I don't know. We're supposed to be avoiding each other this week. Separation before conjunction and all that."
"Conjunction...? Are you talking magic again? or sex?"
"Same thing, I think," I said. That made him laugh.
"Is is it true we dance the sun up tonight?" Dad asked. He's never stayed the night at a Sabbat celebration before.
"Donno, Dad," I told him. "Let's find out."
And we did.