Road trips

Bonnie Roth intensely focused on her first efforts at candle dipping.

Maybe I was all wrong about that time thing last week, I’ve only been home a week and it seems much longer. On the other hand, maybe this conforms perfectly to The Theobald Theory of Time Expansion — lots going on, the sense of time expands.

The first day back was column day, the day I usually write. Then I had to dive into housecleaning and make it look like it wasn’t the home of Barney Rubble because I had two old friends from Wisconsin coming for a visit, Bonnie and Jeff Roth, Jeff a high school buddy from 10th grade on. Bonnie and Jeff were on a quick 50th anniversary road trip to Colorado and Bonnie wanted to dip candles, not the best time of the year to do it, but she was willing to start really early on Sunday morning, while it was cool, and so we could finish before the bees started flying and were attracted to the Honey House by the aroma of hot beeswax. We did it, it was fun, we had lots of time to talk and I let Bonnie do most of the dipping. My friend and fellow beekeeper Cathryn O’Connor stopped by and snapped the accompanying photo of Bonnie deep in concentration.

It all worked out just fine. They arrived Saturday, we did candles early Sunday, had brats and burgers at Tracy and Brian’s in Berthoud Sunday evening, I had breakfast with them early Monday morning and then they were off to other parts of Colorado and other friends. And now here I am again — it’s column day.

The whirlwind visit came on the heels of our own road trip for a week in Wisconsin at the farm Barbara grew up on and where Tracy spent many of her early summers. The farm looks great, mowed and tended and green, flowers in abundance, thanks to Mary I think (Barbara’s twin sister). Barbara’s younger sister Virginia and her husband Richard are also living at the farm, Barbara’s younger brother Rusty was there from West Virginia, his daughter Emily from Spain, Mary’s son Ryan and Barbara’s mother Mariann, now 96 and still sharp. In addition I got to see my brother, Mick, some good friends, and had lunch with about a dozen high school classmates, a few of whom I started kindergarten with. A lot has changed in the town I grew up in, but it’s nice to have those touchstones to return to.

It was all good, but perhaps the best part was all the driving time with my three girls; Tracy and grand daughters Erin and Justine. We had a chance to catch up on each other’s lives and tell some of the family folklore. Tracy was the conscious instigator and it usually started out with “Grampa, tell the girls the story about the time you …” So often these days we all go off our separate ways and it was good to be captives together on the long drive there and back. There were some adventures as well. On the way home we took a wrong turn in Des Moines and because it was heavily overcast and we didn’t have the sun as a reference point, we were in Missouri before we realized we had been heading south not west. I’d never been in the very southern part of Iowa before, it looks like interesting country and now I’m thinking I’d like to go back sometime and nose around a bit.

For the next few days it will be back to the Honey House in the cool of the mornings to clean and rearrange for the harvest. I’m ready for a quiet winter day stoking the wood stove as the snow sifts quietly down outside. ❖