Friday, August 29, 2008

8/29/08 Labor Day weekend at MRO

[Note: photos related to this entry will appear in a separate entry. I'm writing this text without an Internet connection and will upload all as soon as I can.]

Labor Day is the time for the annual C* Family and Friends Celebration. I'm not sure that's it's official title . . . I've heard big blowout, family reunion, extravaganza. But whatever you call it,for several Labor Days in a row, the C* family plus their extended family and friends have gathered at Moose River Outpost for a long weekend of fun and fellowship in a beautiful setting. There were 10 adults and 4 kids at dinner last night, but it sounds like we may get up to as many as 20 at the peak. At one point there were as many as 30 coming, but plans change, so it will be a surprise who makes it and who doesn't. Folks come and go as they can. Jed and Becky with their two little ones were here last night but are leaving Sunday afternoon; some folks aren't even coming until Sunday night, and a few might just come out for the day Monday. Marcus, our host, told us that we were all pawns and he was going to move us around a lot in order to accommodate everyone, so where you sleep tonight may not be where you sleep tomorrow night based on who's in attendance and what their needs are. That's the beauty of bringing a sleeping bag . . . that kind of moving around is a breeze.

Rodney and I left Farmington at the height of rush hour Friday afternoon . . . no really . . . traffic was horrendous. And Farmington is not equipped to handle traffic. We actually left at 2, so we're not sure what all the traffic was. There were a lot of school buses but who were all the other people? UMF is having first- year student orientation but that doesn't officially start until tomorrow so it wasn't too many parents driving their college students to school. Oh well. We finally got out of town by taking a back road to I don't know where. I was driving but was NOT navigating.

The drive was spectacular. It was rainy/cloudy the only other time I've ever been to MRO. Today was blue skies and white puffy clouds. The rivers we drove next to were clear and reflecting the sky's beautiful blue color. Some turns in the river were glassy smooth, other times we saw ripples and other tomes rapids. Time flew as we listened to "mystery music"--old CD mixes that Rodney had burned that weren't labeled so we just popped them in and waited to see what would come up next . . . like a shuffle setting on your iPod the old- fashioned way. Some was new music to me, others were golden oldies that we sang along to. My sister would've been mortified . . . TWO people singing outloud in the car--her worst nightmare. Too bad--she wasn't there and I was having a blast. One of the new songs I heard had a beautiful phrase in it about God's "magnificent whispers". It was the perfect description of the drive.

At camp, our center of operations is a lodge on the north side of the lake, called North Lodge, appropriately enough. It has 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, a big living/gathering area, a porch with a picnic table, a dining room, and a kitchen. Randy is in charge of food. Oh yea! That means it will be delicious. Everyone was assigned food items to bring and all those individual components will magically combine into great meals. Tonight was pork cutlets marinated in a secret recipe (I believe there was soy sauce and oregano involved . . . don't knock it 'til you've tried it) and grilled on the giant grill. Randy apologized because we had just served it to Rodney and me when we had dinner at his house earlier in the week. I was thinking instead, "Yeehah, we get to have it again!" There was cole slaw and baked beans, pasta salad, fresh corn on the cob (that was on our list--we stopped at a roadside stand on the way up and bought it), rolls, and lots of laughter and conversation.

Earlier in the evening, folks had been disappearing to Marcus's new hideaway that he had created. My first journey out there was after dinner in the dark. Just a few yards off the back porch, past a few pine trees, was a clearing that looked out over the lake, had a fire circle (with fire already blazing when I got there), and a collection of Adirondack chairs. It truly was picture perfect. Four of the five C* brothers were sitting around swapping stories and telling tales on each other while nephews, cousins, and family friends just soaked it all in. We laughed so hard. Meanwhile, in a little circle of sky above us and a sliver of horizon in front of us, framed by majestic pine trees, the stars were out. There was no moon and the stars were like a blanket of confetti. There were SO many stars out. You could see the Milky Way and we saw several satellites and some shooting stars. I've sat around a lot of campfires in my life and I would definitely rate this as a really great one.

As the evening wore on, little ones and their moms and then a few others excused themselves. Soon we were down to four brothers, Marcus, Dale (another family friend), and me. Marcus went and stood on the edge of the lake and did a loon call. It sounded just like a loon. But what happened next was amazing. There was an echo across the lake of that loon call. And then another echo and then another. There were at least four echoes and the third one was the louder than the second. It sounded more like someone was across the lake answering back. He did it several more times, each time the echoes lasted 6, 7, 8 seconds. It was unbelievable. Then we moved to another spot on the shore line where the echoes are apparently even better. Marcus experimented with pointing his loon call in different directions and while the echoes continued to be eery and beautiful, I was distracted by something I had never seen in my life. The lake was reflecting starlight. The water was so still and the sky so clear, you could see the reflection of stars in the water. What an incredible ending to a great day. What a wondrous magnificent whisper from God.

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