- Beauty & Style
- Contact Us
Like Us, Follow Us
Your lifestyle, your quirk
My husband and I have attended the Northwest String Summit, in North Planes, Oregon, every year since we met. It has seen us through the various stages of our relationship as it blossomed from twitterpated puppy love to marriage, and now it’s witnessing a new stage in our lives: parenthood.
Six years ago, we showed up at the bluegrass festival not knowing what to expect. All we brought was a cooler of snacks and a simple pop-up tent
we borrowed from Nate’s mom at the last minute. We hadn’t even thought about what we were going to sleep in until she happened to ask us. We were young, naive, and…okay, a little dumb.
That year we had our organic hemp socks rocked off. We gained a whole new respect for the fiddle, straw hats, patchwork clothing, and immersed ourselves in the hippy culture. The relaxed vibes and “love everyone the way they are” attitude was an unbelievable breath of fresh air, coming from the city life where things get moving too fast, and we found ourselves doing the proverbial doggie paddle just to keep up with the daily grind.
We continued going back each year, using the trip as a means of recharging our batteries and reminding us of the grassroots philosophy by which we wanted to live our lives – the same philosophy that sometimes got lost during the daily grind of making a living in Seattle.
This year may have been the most highly anticipated String Summit yet for us, as we were bringing our daughter this time. Technically, Thea made her first visit last year, but she was still in utero, so we didn’t have to change much about how we went about the weekend. We were just moving around a bit slower.
This year, however, we noticed the changes right away. We thought that with one extra person, there would be one extra bag to pack, right?
Um, no. Not when that “extra person” is an 8 ½ month old. She took three extra bags, plus her changing pad, GoPod (the camping version of a walker), a bag of toys, diapers, wipes, etc. This list goes on…trust me.
We joined the ranks of the “family camp” area this time, thinking it would be a fun way to meet other parents with similar values. Apparently, the family camp area opens a few days earlier than the rest of the camping areas, and it was already full when we arrived, just an hour and half after the main gates opened. The only spot left was on a slope.
A steep slope.
Having no other choice, we took it, and spent the rest of the weekend working out our calves in order to stay standing. We woke up each morning huddled at the bottom of our tent because we’d slid down in the night. Whenever we put Thea in her GoPod so she could have some freedom to move around on her own a bit, we had to hold the other end of it so it didn’t tip over. I’m not exaggerating.
Whenever we left camp, one of us hauled Thea around in the hiking backpack carrier, while the other carried her two bags’ worth of supplies. A trip to the port-o-potties easily doubled as the day’s cardio workout.
The effort was worth it though. Thea loved staring at the peacocks that roamed throughout the property, watching the paddleboats in the large pond, and seeing the hippies in their various colorful outfits hula-hooping and grooving in the afternoon sun. We all did fine until evening, where a conflict of interests changed the entire night’s plans.
The music began on stage in the late afternoon, and we caught maybe one act before heading to camp for dinner. We planned to head back to the main stage for the headlining band, who began playing around 8:30 p.m. – an hour after Thea’s usual bedtime.
I thought she would be happy to stay up a little later, and I would be wearing her in the Ergo carrier (a front carrier), so she could simply lay her head on my chest and drift off whenever she wanted to. This is how we often do it at home for her daytime naps, anyway. At home, however, there is not music blasting from speakers taller than me. There are not thousands of other people whooping and hollering all around. At home, it doesn’t perpetually smell like cooking tofu, B.O., and patchouli.
Thea was not into it. I guess she is still too young to appreciate bluegrass, as it is an acquired taste. She wanted to go back to camp and sleep in on her pad in the tent (preferably with both of us on either side of her), while my husband and I wanted to listen to the band we came to see. It was at that moment that I realized things were very different now.
Parenthood comes first – always. So, we compromised and I headed back to camp with Thea, while Nate stayed to listen to one set (on my insistence. It is his all-time favorite band, so I wanted him to hear at least a few songs live). By the time I had Thea asleep in the tent, Nate was joining us 10 minutes later. It was long before midnight, and we were huddled in our tent (at the bottom, of course) and smiled a “goodnight” so as not to wake the baby.
It was a tad different than six years ago.
Although it was far more effort this time around, far fewer shenanigans, and we saw far less music, it was still a reprieve from “life as usual,” and helped reset our attitudes and priorities. We may decide to wait a few more years before heading back – when Thea is a bit older and will enjoy the music, or we may find a new tradition to grow with our family for the next six years. Either way, I am forever grateful for the grounding presence of the String Summit and all that it has offered us through the blossoming of our relationship and family.