I think I’ve spent so much time going over the preparations for our family reunion because I can’t quite figure out how to put into words the wonderfulness of it all! The weather was not especially cooperative (more rain and clouds than sun), but that didn’t seem to slow us down one bit!
From crazy antics at the pond
to the fishing competition
to massive Bingo games to stay out of the rain
to fun on the swing
to naps in the hammock
to games under the tent
to the peanut gallery always watching the activities
it was a fabulous, fabulous time! Since pictures most often speak louder than words, here are some galleries of the multitude of pictures taken over our long weekend.
And just some general people!
And if you’re really a glutton for Dwinell Family photos – here’s a link to the whole batch!
Along with all of the Big Jobs that were accomplished during our pre-reunion time at The Cabin, lots of Little Jobs were done too!
Some things were very small – like the replacement of some faded Rummikub tiles.
(Who knew you could buy individual replacement tiles for your Rummikub game? Go, eBay!)
Some might have gone unnoticed by many like the shined up indoor hot water heater (Thanks, Joie!).
We added a new multi-person swing back at the old maple.
And next to the pond, it was quite the place to be!
(Number of children on swing added for the photo! We tried (!!!) to keep the max occupancy at 4 for actual swinging!)
Gary spruced up the outdoor spa (aka hot shower at the cabin!)
for those of us staying ‘on site’.
There was a bit of pond raking to help make swimming a bit more appealing to the ‘eeew – it’s a squishy bottom’ crowd-
But given the number of kiddos (and adults) in the pond at any given time
I don’t think it was that much of an issue!
Gary gathered the supplies for a replacement fence along the bank of the pond
and completed the job with help on the first day of the Reunion.
(I love how it works great to keep little ones from falling over the embankment, but is virtually invisible otherwise!)
See what I mean?
We replaced our trusty red sofa, which was purchased used in the early 90’s,
with a good quality (not as) used sofa that is super comfy and came with free pillows and a little cedar trunk. Thank you, Facebook Marketplace!
The red sofa lived on the porch (where it was pretty handy)until the end of the reunion
when, with the help of an ATV and several strong guys,
it was ceremoniously burned (along with a leaky tent and a fair bit of trash and tree debris) as a final bonfire for the reunion!
Farewell, good and faithful sofa! You have served us well!
We loved, loved, loved being up at the cabin with the sweet anticipation of the Reunion to come. But just because we were ‘on campus’, doesn’t mean that others were not pitching in to make this marvelous family time come together. There were meal planners and game planners and activity planners. EVERYONE pitched in to make this a Reunion to Remember, and one of these days I’ll even move this blogging thing from “Reunion Prep” to the actual Reunion!
Making the Land Useful
There was one other big job that Gary was hoping to accomplish during our Cabin Prep weeks preceding the reunion. That was to not only beat back the wilderness as much as possible, but also to change some previous unusable space into mow-able lawn. You see, our little cabin sits on the site of a previous community. As in the late 1800’s previous.
(See my post about Foundations and Fences for some additional thoughts on that!)
Here in this old photo you can see the foundation of the barn that was directly across from the cabin.
We played in that area over the years, but eventually it became overrun with small trees (and giant thistles) and wilderness in general.
If you got there early enough in the spring you could still see that beautiful foundation –
But it never took long for it to fill in and become just one overgrown jungle.
Over the last couple of years we’ve been working to tame that jungle and make that area useful in some way. We moved our burn pit to the back (and lower level)part of it and tried to develop a fire pit area in the front. But still it was a problem to maintain. It was way too rocky to mow and needed constant weed whacking to keep under control. This spring Gary had a plan to make at least the front part of the barn foundation useful. Or at least mow-able.
“If we get an excavator in here, he could move the rocks into a pile in the back part and we could smooth out the front, seed it and make it part of the front lawn.
In truth, it was a hard sell for me. That foundation had been there forever (in my finite world) and although it served no purpose and was a general pain in the neck to even make visible, it still held intrinsic value to me. Or at least memories.
But after talking it over with others in the family, we decided to give Gary’s plan a go.
As the work progressed, we kept separate all of the big foundation rocks, and piled the rest in the back section.
And then, we had him carefully place those ginormous pieces of granite (and other miscellaneous stone-types) into a firepit area.
We added a load of mulch,
had some husky reunion attendees readjust the stones some
(Wait, that’s three old dudes and just one strapping youth doing that)
until we came to this final configuration.
It still needs some fine tuning – more stones around the actual fire area and less mulch around the actual fire area, but it’s had its inaugural fire and it seems to be a good thing!
Once we get that grass growing and make those final adjustments to the fire pit, I think it will be a lovely addition to The Cabin Experience.
And a fair bit more useful area than this –
PS – I’m thinking our young excavator driver, Brady, had a pretty fun day of it too!
When we signed up to be up at the cabin for a couple of weeks before The Reunion we embraced the “Reunion Prep” with gusto. I envisioned mowing and trimming, maybe sprucing up the “gardens” with some annuals for a burst of color, and some deep cleaning of the interior to try and stay ahead of the spiders and other critters who call the cabin home for many more months than we do.
When we were able to extend those ‘prep weeks’ by getting to the cabin even earlier, I figured we could just move at a more leisurely pace. More time with our Vermont family, more books read, more naps taken, more trips for ice cream. I guess I forgot to include Gary in my vision. When he realized we would have extra time before the reunion, his ‘prep list’ just got longer. And a bit more detailed. And a just a teensy bit more involved!
The Pond View
One of our favorite activities at the cabin is sitting on the front lawn
with the pond in view.
But as you can see, the view was gradually becoming smaller and smaller.
Now this is not a problem when you’re just in it for the view, but when you want to actually see what is going on down there (like 30+ grandchildren)- well, something had to happen!
We’ve been hacking away at the wilderness over the years on either side of the walkway, but this year seemed to call for some drastic measures. Gary solicited some local help for the bulk of the clearing in the center section,
but he hopped in (literally) to finish up the job!
He (and even WE sometimes) pulled and whacked and whacked and pulled some more. He even used his ‘chainsaw on a stick’ (aka pole saw) to try and get some of those higher branches
but still, there were just a couple of branches that were out of reach. While it was a great improvement, we still couldn’t see the whole dock.
For the final view-clearing step, we had to wait until some of the young’uns arrived.
Including a tree climber!
Finally – just as the grandchildren were beginning to fall in love all over again with the pond, the view was restored!
And not a moment too soon!