Things I Learned at “Camp” This Year

I spent the last week reconnecting with my parents in a way that I appreciate more and more as I (and they) get older. I had the added pleasure of  bringing with me my niece, Amelia (7) and nephew, Colin (two weeks from 11). My brother, Bryce and his wife, Melanie, get a week “off” and I get a week to really enjoy the kids. The crowning glory is the stone fruit, fresh corn and tomatoes that peak in the central valley this time of year.

Our daily routine went something like this:

  • Apply sunscreen to wiggling kids who are still chewing their last bite of breakfast but are too excited to wait.
  • Sit next to the pool, in the shade, cold drink in hand, chatting with my mom while watching the kids perfect their cannonballs.
  • Help the kids make lunch. Try Colin’s “special” tuna and wonder how his stomach survives his marvelous (but curious) culinary experiments.
  • Sit with the kids and kibbitz on their computer games (at my parent’s house computer games are a group activity). Help Amelia rescue kitties in her favorite game.
  • Spend an hour resting, reading or sleeping. (When I ask Colin why his feet are by my head in the bed he matter-of-factly tells me he is stretching.)
  • Head back to the pool, this time IN the pool splashing the kids in between laps. Marvel that just a short time ago Amelia could barely swim across the short side of the pool and now she can swim the length without pause.
  • Make dinner. Insist that if the kids have room for cookies they definitely have room for salad and that the last bite of tomato really won’t kill them.
  • Throw the frisbee for my dad’s scary smart shepherd-border collie mix, Pepper. Enjoy the cool evening and glowing sunset.
  • Cuddle up with the kids and a book or TV. 
  • Wonder how parents, especially artists with children, ever get anything done besides make sure the kids are safe and well fed.
  • Kiss, hug and tuck in the kids. Fall into my own bed and fall asleep.
  • Repeat.

While driving home to San Jose, I was thinking about what spending a week in Hanford with my family taught me. I realized that, more than anything, having time to hold still and rest refocuses the mind on lessons we already know but often ignore.

Lesson # 1 – Don’t rush art to meet a deadline (or fruit to market).

I’m sorry to say that the my artists’ book using a family quilt was not ready for the 23 Sandy Gallery Uncommon Threads deadline. I worked on the book and was trying to get it finished on time and then realized I was rushing it. I was making decisions based on what I could get done quickly, not on what the book needed. A week of eating perfectly ripe fruit – picked from the tree when ready – not when the market demanded, reminded me that things have a natural timeline. Including creating new artwork.

[As a side note – if you’re going to/through or near Hanford, California, I highly recommend Cody’s Fruit Stand on 13th Avenue. The people are always nice and the fruit is drip-down-your chin perfect.

And the corn from the First Fruits Stand on 12th. Sold every morning to cars that line up to buy bagfuls and always sold out by noon. After your first bite of this corn you’ll be lined up every morning, too.]

Did you have time off this summer? Did you learn any lessons to apply to your art making?

Up next: Lesson # 2.


3 responses to “Things I Learned at “Camp” This Year

  1. Great wisdom there. I too had a piece nearing completion and a concept I’m excited about. I found myself putting in extra time, rushing and getting really anxious about it. Finally I decided to call it. Not worth it and not fair to the piece, me or anyone. I didn’t make the deadline. Thanks SO much for articulating and validating. I’m sure the fruit and veggies were wonderful. I’m happy for you!

  2. I learned a second lamination of paper will make my panels sand up perfectly!

  3. Hi Ginger,

    I’m glad you are taking time with your quilt book. I was disappointed to find that I had nothing to submit for “Threads,” but figured there’s always next year.

    Regarding boys and their taste buds – My brother, at age 7, used to love tunafish, Miracle Whip and grape jelly sandwiches. He couldn’t have weighed much more than 40 pounds and could eat two in a sitting.

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