We Are Family

Hello dear readers! We are back on the West Coast and are back in full swing while still digging around in suitcases, getting our cars out of impound (don’t ask) and trying to make sense of our chosen lives in the city. With no food in the house, we walked to our neighborhood cafe for breakfast yesterday, at peak rush hour. Where just 24 hours before we had been enjoying our morning routine of chipmunk watching and noticing that days particular sunrise reflection in the lake, now it was the stream of cars and bicyclists, bus waiters with grey faces in the fog. Jeff looked at me sleepily and said, “Why isn’t everyone fishing?”. Indeed.

It seems an age since I sat in this space with you, and while there is much I would ditch in a second about our urban living, my desire to write and to share here remained strong the past three weeks. Speaking of which, have you signed up for the 2nd Annual Bioregional Swap yet? I will assign partners next weekend, so there’s still time! I am ever grateful and inspired by the connections I have been making in bloglandia, meeting all these kindred hearts, and I am certain someone would like to meet yours, so do join in, won’t you?

I have so much to share with you that I feel like my daughter greeting a favorite relative, wanting to rush up with this toy and that one and see here see here! It is important to start at the beginning, for this trip marked many new things, and while my heart is still full of loon calls and pine needles, before Maine there was Cape Cod, and our time there was like a vacation before our vacation.

While Jeff grew up in Raynham, Massachusetts, his parents have since moved to a beautiful home on the Cape, with many bedrooms and a giant backyard, just the perfect place for the entire extended family to descend like a raucous flock of seagulls. With a bazillion kids and so many adult relatives that Fern just started calling everyone, “my cousin”, I wasn’t sure how she (or me) would fare. Turns out, she was settled within 5 minutes of seeing the kiddie pool in the backyard and I happily found myself nestled in amongst new friends.

Fern, cousin Jillian and Grandma Timmins. Grandma always likes to downplay her gardening, but I found out she is way too humble.

Black eyed Susans.

Feeding the fish.

Most of the time I was so engaged in getting to know you that I wasn’t able to wrap my head around documenting our experience. If I had it to do all over again, I would include the little things, like Grandma’s quilts, or Aunt Kelly’s weaving or Aunt Sabra with a sparkle in her eye, ready for her morning run. There was also the beach house that Papa built, the unbelievably quaint homes on the Cape, and backyard wiffle ball games. Alas, I have a funny hodgepodge of our adventures, so come along with me this way…

East Coast summers might have overcast days and thundershowers, but since I could still wear a tank top, I didn’t mind at all. A particularly blustery day found us at the beach across from the home where Jeff spent many of his summers. Little did I know that he had a “camp” all his own. One constant throughout our trip was the dawning that I was witnessing a much missed side of my partner…the way he is nestled into his family.

Connery and Max

Grandma gifted Fern with a pillow pet like her cousin Jilly’s, the perfect companions for many adventures.

Cape Cod in the summertime is all about beachlovin’, and not every day was cloudy.

The children were visited by a horseshoe crab, a somewhat endangered living fossil. These crabs existed 450 million years ago.

Despite being in waters that were teaming with people (including one ill behaved child who picked up the crab and dropped her on her back, which can be fatal for them if they get stuck) she kept coming back into the shallows. That night I did some research and found out she was probably trying to lay eggs. During the early hours of the next morning I had a dream that she was stuck on this beach because of the long rock outcroppings that enclosed the area. So the next morning Jeff, Fern, Jilly and I ventured back to make sure she had been able to get out. The tide was low, and there was no sign of our ancient friend. But there were still lots of hermit crabs and other wonders.

Grandma Timmins deserves an award for her stellar attempt to appease my ridiculous digestive system. In an effort to  supply us with organic produce, we spent a morning at Coonamessette Farms, where Aunt Kelly had a membership for pick yer own veggies.

Even though the growing season on the East Coast is much shorter than the West, the plentiful moisture makes for ridiculous lushness.

With a lifestyle in the city that affords us very little time together, this vacation felt like a reunion. An “oh hello I remember you.”

Jeff has his Mama’s eyes.

We are both often stressed, and so it feels like we miss each other a lot, despite the proximity of our lives. It was wonderful to see my partner in the backdrop of his family, to watch a certain sweetness of spirit emerge, to feel my understanding of him deepen and to remember just why I fell in love with him.

On the flipside, I had my first taste of empty nest while we were at the Cape, because with the sudden making of her new BFF Jilly, my mama-centric daughter hardly acknowledged my existence for 5 days.

Jilly, Colin, Fern.

And when there wasn’t Jilly, there was always Grandpa…

One of our last excursions, quintessential Cape Cod.

Did you know that Lobsters can live up to 40 years of age? The ones we end up eating are about 7 years old. On this trip, Jeff had what will probably be his last lobster. He had the realization that death by boiling is a pretty sorry way to go.

New Englanders know how to do cozy, and I am sorry to not have more photos of all the beautiful homes.

It was really difficult to say goodbye at the end of our trip. Aunt Kelly and Jillian reported that they cried all the way home the night they left. I was sorry to see it end, but also SO excited for future visits and reunions. I look forward to deepening my connection with all of Jeff’s family and I hope that the friendship between Jilly and Fern continues to grow.



All the cousins. Fern refused to be in the picture.

We rented a car in Mass and made the two hour trip north to Maine. As we turned down the driveway leading to camp, greeted by the smell of sweet water and pine, our hands reached out the windows to blueberry bushes that were at their peak ripeness, stuffing berries into Fern’s mouth. Our first hour there was completely overwhelming, my head was swooning with the thickness of joy and memory, and I felt undone as my mind and heart entered what can best be described as an alternate reality. We opened the house for the first time in five years, and ghosts flooded out. Dreams that I frequently have about Camp surfaced, and as we went for our first swim, I also felt like I was diving into my own unconscious. Jeff went into the house to get Fern and I towels, and when he came back outside he said, “You have to come and see this, there is something really weird upstairs. I don’t know how to describe it.”

He led me to the main upstairs bedroom and pointed out the window. The screen was open and there, on the roof, was a little piece of moss with ring nestled in it.

Stunned, I gingerly picked it up and looked back at my partner as he said, “Will you marry me?”

And it goes without saying, but of course I said yes.

We’ve gone about it all backwards, Jeff and I. No sooner did we recognize that we were soul mates than we found ourselves pregnant, within the first two tumultuous months of our courting. He was still untangling himself from a previous relationship, we had both just graduated, were broke and just prepping to go into probably unpaid internship for our new careers. The past 3 1/2 years have been ridiculously hard, and we have both wondered with grief and fear if we were going to make it.

I am happy to announce that we have.

And now that I’ve dropped that bomb on you, gather yourself back up best you can, because there’s much more to come!

Love to all, I’ve truly missed you and look forward to catching up virtually with all your doings these next few days and weeks.


25 thoughts on “We Are Family

  1. Oh my gosh. Congratulations so much!! I’m all choked up.

    Also, I think I would love to participate in the bioregional exchange. I’m nervous because I don’t know exactly what to do, but I still want to do it. So thanks for the opportunity to broaden my experience and do something different.

    And congratufreakinglations, lady! Wow!

  2. mary, this post just breaks my heart open. thank you for sharing such tenderness, sweetness xoxox
    p.s. sign me up for that swap

  3. Oh goodness, that is just so sweet. Congratulations! Love the ring. My family wishes your family many, many years of happiness.

  4. Ok…yes I cried all the way home thinking of you all leaving and I cried all the way through this entire post! You captured all of the moments so beautifully and you captured our hearts! Thank you for being so open and sharing your stories and pictures. It is difficult not knowing when we will see you all again, but this blog helps a lot especially seeing pics of jeff and fern. I am glad this story has such a happy ending..or rather a happy beginning! Love love love oxoxox. Aunt Kelly

  5. you seriously just made me cry! that is such a beautiful story, after so much family and nostalgia and love, to come together in a new way…i love you guys. i am so moved. you are an amazing little family and i am so excited for you, and for us to get to hear all about it! your trip seems like an east coast dream. exactly what i’d picture cape cod to be like, complete with random cousins and new friends and beach days both cloudy and sunny alike. can’t wait to see more of maine. thank you for all of this.

  6. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH i’m coming to your wedding you know that don’t you. give me lots of notice lots and lots. love you guys. haven’t had time to do more than skim read this, but i ABSOLUTELY noticed that most lovely ring in the moss. love you love you love you! happiness and everything ever after darlings! Now i have to go sew. boo. market tomorrow.

  7. Congratulations Mary! This is going to sound so strange but when I saw the photo of you two under the arbor early on in the post I thought “I wonder if they got married” there was something about that photo that was very…I don’t know wedding-y…
    So of course when I read that last part, I immediately got choked up a little and broke into a big smile.

  8. F*ck it, i just read this properly now….and still….love you guys is the best way to describe how i feel. i missed your beautiful writing and i’m totally put to shame not writing my own SF journey yet…after the market is over tomorrow i’ll have some space again and then i’ll write, yes i will, of Mary, and Geoff and Fern and all the rest.

  9. This is so beautiful Mary! Thank-you for sharing your big heart and mind with the world. It is an honor to read. And also, ummmm there are pictures from Woods Hole- thats where we go every summer and where Will’s parents house it…Is that where you were on the Cape???

  10. Oh Mary!!!! Yay yay yay!!!! I am so excited and happy for you guys, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It sounds like the timing and how it all played out was just so perfect, on so many levels. Way to go Jeff 😀

    My heart is so full for y’all, you beautiful little family you! Can’t wait to hear more about your time at Camp 🙂

  11. wooooooooooooow! so much awesomeness there, i don’t even know what to say. the east coast has some magic that’s for sure, i miss it so deeply sometimes. great pics….all of them….fern so cute and you so beautiful…..but that pic of jeff and his mama!!! so sweet. you certainly don’t need to be told what a fantastic man you have, but i’ll say it anyway…..jeff rocks!!

  12. congrats!! what a sweet little engagement ring! blueberries, fern’s big blue eyes, and little blue eggs…perfection!

    i owe you email! but at least i’ve read your post! congrats again! (and i promise no exclamation points in my email! maybe!)


  13. weeping with joy over here ~ i can so closely relate to everything you’ve written about here. and i couldn’t be more happy for you & the latest jubilant occurrence in your blessed life! many congrats to you all! xxoo

  14. What beautiful stories of family, new, old, big, small. All the branches weaving together to cradle you and yours in love. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. ❤

  15. yay! i’m so happy for you! how very, very exciting! your trip looks so awesome. i haven’t been on the east coast much, it just looks so gorgeous. and your brief description of your relationship is frighteningly similar to mine and ruben’s! for real!

  16. Mary,
    I’ve stepped out of blogland for a bit, so this comment is very behind the times. I just wanted to say how captivating this and the following posts were. The magic of a loon’s call. The history and legacy of your family! The coming together of a tribe and becoming part of Jeff’s in the most official way! Congratulations. What a beautiful ring and lovely vacation. Looking forward to participating in the swap. Wish I had time to say more.
    PS- There is something about the picture of your grandmother taken during her honeymoon that I saw you in. Can’t put my finger on what exactly- a feature or the turn of her head- not sure, but something.

  17. woohoo!!!!! congratulations mary and jeff and fern!!!!!! i’m so happy for you! i’ve been enjoying your maine photos this morning, and what a lovely note to end up on and be all caught up! that is one sweet ring.

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