The Wylie Family Farm Bi-Annual Retreat came to a happy and somewhat eventful ending. Any of us who flew commercial had delayed flights and missed connecting flights. The weather for some of us who drove was frightful at 107 degrees in the shade. We all arrived from across the country like locusts who come together every two years to cook and swim and boat and eat and sing and drink and partake in various semi-dangerous activities.
Glasses were broken, bread was baked, the most difficult puzzles were constructed, hilarity was had, family ties were mended stronger than ever, precious children were loved up, and great fun was experienced by all. There were 38 of us with three no shows (I’m looking at you Alex).
My 86-year old matriarchal mom pays for this retreat every time and we just have to get ourselves there. It is for the benefit of her four children, nine grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Yes, eleven. But it is, of course, for her, too.
My mom is awe-inspiring. She works on the farm the whole livelong day, sharp as a tack, and generous to a fault. She gave my three brothers and me the whole farm (yes, I am officially a farmer now) but is constantly fretting over her grandchildren, always giving them ample gifts.
When I was growing up and my dad was still alive, we never went on vacations. We had too many farm animals to take care of. I’ve written about this before in the context of our only family vacations being to the Butler Country Fair every year. Make no mistake, it was a week of bliss where we showed our horses, slept in our little camper or on fresh, fragrant straw in the horse trailer and were still able to go home in the mornings and evenings to tend to our brood of animals.
We went to the carnival every night, eating powdered sugar funnel cakes, hot sausage sandwiches and bubblegum cotton candy, and saw wonders of the world like the two-headed calf and the goat with five legs. There were ferris wheel rides, shooting games and furtive kisses behind the stalls. Overall it was better than the Ritz in Paris as far as I was concerned.
When I grew older and had my kids, I didn’t really want to go on a vacation. There were reasons for this. We live a block from the beach in Venice — better than…