a beautiful Jack Russell terrier next to a tent

Zelda is healing well — eager to go for walks again and happy to greet the dogs we encounter on the way. Still limping a little, but not yelping when she jumps any more.

I made my reservations for Grand Isle State Park in Vermont several weeks ago. It’s the most popular state park in Vermont, on an island in Lake Champlain, and in my imaginary visit, there was much kayaking, some swimming, some hiking — several days of actual nature adventure. Real camping, not just living in a van.

My imagination did not include a limping dog.

Nor did it include human companions, in the form of my delightful son and my favorite cousin.

So things sort of balanced out, some bad, some good. I’m sorry to say that my kayak never touched the water, and neither did Zelda or I. R walked down to the beach and went swimming but it was too long a walk for Zelda.

We did, however, have a campfire one night and cook sausages over the fire, which was fun, and we went to a farmer’s market where I bought maple syrup, which felt very Vermont.

And the campground was as beautiful as I’d expected it to be. Vermont is gorgeous. This was my second visit, not nearly long enough, and it’s so green and hilly. I suspect that I wouldn’t like it nearly as much in winter, when I would be admiring the hills and wishing to be somewhere warmer, but in August, it’s lovely.

The campground was great, too. I wasn’t in love with our site (#96, for future reference) which was packed dirt, but it was huge and felt quite secluded, because it was surrounded and sheltered by trees. Total shade, with only tiny patches of sunlight. Z wandered from one sunlit patch to another as the day wore on. Some of the other sites are grassy and sunnier, so if I ever go back, I’ll aim for one of those (on the outside, for my own future reference).

The only real negative for me was the showers: coin-operated, no control over water pressure or temperature. Not my favorite and on our last day, the shower stole R’s coins and neglected to give him any water. He was not a happy camper.

Despite being less energetic than I’d planned, we had a very pleasant three days there. No electricity, so lots of reading and relaxing, and for me, lots of cooking fun food. We ate blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast one morning, scrambled eggs with avocado and cilantro and sausage another. I braved the fish smells and did sockeye salmon for dinner one night, with salads of mixed greens, avocado, pea pods, radishes, sunflower seeds, and lemon vinaigrette.

On one of the other days, I ate a nameless food — ground beef and rice cooked with turmeric, cinnamon, parsley, garlic, cilantro, chili sauce, and fresh cherry tomatoes. My description of it to R was so poor that he passed and ate leftover salmon, but he did take a bite after I’d cooked it and agreed that it was better than he’d been imagining. It actually was pretty delicious, although it felt like an ideal mid-winter food, rather than a deep summer food — rich and spicy and satisfying.

After five days, R is now my longest van companion. He says that he’s tired of hitting his head, which I sympathize with. I don’t know that he would ever want to drive around exploring the country anyway, but I am pretty sure if he did, he would like a taller vehicle. And I just asked him and he agrees, he would rather not spend a lot of time in this vehicle this size. The perils of being 6’4”!

But we’ve done pretty well together, I think — I was worried that after a few days of tripping over each other, I’d be getting cranky about having extra stuff in the way and he’d be getting cranky about me being cranky, but so far, so good. A second (and, briefly, third) person does mean a lot more dishes to wash, though, and that’s meant some minor tragedies. Yesterday I broke two of my favorite bowls, because I didn’t stow them properly when we were on the road, and I’ve been surprisingly sad about that. When you own almost nothing, the things that you own that you love become much more important, I guess. But I’m trying to remind myself that the universe has plenty of bowls, and maybe I’ll find some new ones that I love just as much.

Tomorrow is the release day for A Gift of Grace, and I’ve been meaning to write about that — some more about the book itself, maybe some about the things I learned writing it, some self-publishing thoughts about how the release has gone and what I’ve done, that kind of thing. But I spent a solid twenty minutes staring at a blank document and writing and re-writing some words and then decided that maybe that wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. I’m doing a pretty good job of letting go of the anxiety and stress and tension that comes with releasing a creative baby into the world and I think I’d like to keep it that way. So instead, R and I are going to go do laundry. Exciting days!