This weekend, we celebrated Bray’s birthday. The past four years, he and I drop the kids at the farm and then drive 15 more minutes to a fishing camp in Louisiana. We stay overnight and wake up at 5 am to head out on a boat in the darkness to see what we’ll hook.
While exhausted, I love this trip. I watch the sun rise. The wind whips our faces as we speed even further south on the water to wherever the guide determines the fish will bite. We’re on that boat for six hours. Some riding time, some fishing time.
Then, after bringing in our haul, some years better than others (this year a passel of trout), we drive back to the farm. A weekend with his parents and our kids. The kids fish and play with whatever their catch is (this year garfish and a large turtle they’ve named Shelly), Bray takes the little boat out, and farm work is completed. I cook. And bake. Almost every time I’m there for a quiet weekend, I spend a chunk of it in the kitchen. Cooking and baking are therapeutic for me.
In addition to cake and brownies and ceviche and big breakfasts, Saturday evening’s kitchen time was my favorite. The sun started to set. Little bit stayed behind from the sunset boat ride. We fixed up the birthday dinner table with “real” plates (instead of paper ones we usually use) and crystal glassware for water. We laid out an appetizer platter and fixed drinks for the returning adults. The light from the sunset colored the dining room table and the house was quiet.
I explained where to set things on a formal table and she laid out the order of the evening if she had been the wait staff at a five star eatery. She envisioned a grand party and the kitchen partitioned off by a curtain and her in a black dress with white cloth over her arm as she sat imaginary guests. We planned dinner parties in the future where the kids would cook and serve their parents and she had grand plans for the event.
Everyone arrived smiling and laughing from a “wonderful” boat ride with Captain Bray, and then they ooh-ed and aah-ed over the set up for the birthday dinner. We took our appetizer plates to the back patio to watch the last of the sunset. My father in law fired up the grill and the eldest begged to grill the salmon and steak for the dinner feast. The puppy ran around and played until we ran him off so we could eat our appetizers without him trying to devour every morsel. Everyone ate their fill and then found a little more space for chocolate cake and Blue Bell ice cream. My fifteenth year celebrating this man’s birthday. Our first celebration was a set of clues on a scavenger hunt I planned for his big day, in the early, goose-bumps, stage of dating. Little did we know then what surprises would really be in store.
It was late when we got to bed. After 11. It’s heresy to eat before dark at the farm and that means late dinners in the summer. It used to stress me out because of little kids and schedules, but now that they’re 9 I just take it as a part of the rhythm of our summer schedule.
We arrived home by 5 Sunday so we could attend a fish fry at our dear friends house. They’d gone fishing this weekend as well and we combined our collective loot to feed 20 family and friends. I stood in the kitchen breading trout and listening to the hum of conversation. A deep sense of gratitude and peace filled me. The kids played and talked parents into last minute sleep overs. The grown ups had conversations about summer and travel and how fast it all goes. All the while eating fish til we nearly popped. The clusters of adults would move and change as groups would reform around different friends to catch up. And the kids would try to find new things to shoot in the front yard with their Nerf guns.
I didn’t take a single picture yesterday, I was so caught up in the holy ordinary. Webster’s defines holy as sacred. That’s what this weekend felt like. Nothing monetarily extravagant but utterly extravagant in the holy. The sacred. Time with family and friends. Good food and joy in preparing it. Peace in sunsets and friendship and provision.
It’s important for me to bear witness to these days. These small moments which get overlooked when gazing back at the year’s memories. And yet they are the most precious. The holy ordinary where God shows up.