Discover more from Beagle Voyage with Jane Liaw
We move to Costa Rica in less than two weeks, and we’re starting to get ready. I’m looking forward to this next chapter—Taz set up a WhatsApp group with a few new and returning TIDE Academy families, and some of them have been meeting up already. I’m hopeful we’ll find an element of what we’re seeking this year—a chance to meet likeminded people and build our tribe.
Before we get there, though, we have some packing to do. Last time around, when we came to Canada for the school year, we found we’d packed too many clothes but were glad for the other little extras we’d brought to create a sense of home. So this time, we brought a similar collection. It includes:
Our own towels and face cloths. I pack them in those vacuum bags that you can push the air out of, so they take up a little bit less room. Still quite bulky, but we’ve found a good towel to be one of the creature comforts that significantly improves daily living. If we could’ve brought our Toto Washlet with us, we would have (this is not the first time I’ve mentioned our beloved Toto Washlet, and it won’t be the last).
A portable Bose speaker that is occasionally used in the yard or at the beach, but more commonly used for good, clear audio when we watch shows together on an iPad.
Big Ziploc bags with some favorite Lego and Plus Plus pieces for Beanie’s portable fun.
Our Zojirushi thermoses and my Yeti steel mug, to be used with my…
…Aeropress to make coffee daily. The Aeropress fits well over the Yeti, and then I decant coffee into the thermos so I can bring it with me for school drop-off without spilling everywhere, which I always do when not using a thermos.
Also an Aeropress milk frother to froth up some homemade cappuccino (or latte? I don’t remember the proportions for any of these espresso drinks, I just foam the milk until it looks like an appropriate amount of foam.)
A collection of kitchen tools, including five good kitchen knives, chopsticks, meat thermometer, Microplane, peeler, and two silicone spatulas. YES, the knives are not light, but short-term rentals have the worst knives and I cannot be getting angry every time I make a meal. Last time we came to Canada I’d wrapped the knives in paper and towels, and every time we moved rentals I had to carefully wrap and unwrap them again. This time I sprang for a chef’s knife case, and that has improved my mood even more.
Having these few key items really makes a difference in adjusting quickly to new accommodations. What would you bring with you to make a long trip better? I’m curious to know.
Beanie tried two new camps last week: the first was a week with Wildlings, a forest camp different from the one run by her regular forest school, Red-tailed Hawk (RTH).
Wildlings doesn’t have its own campus—instead, they meet at Metcalfe Rock, a popular rock climbing spot on public land. It’s a “wilder” forest camp than RTH, and the kids did long hikes and scrabbled around rock forts. They lay down on a tarp and meditated together while listening to the wind, they explored caves (Beanie said she saw fairies in the cave—tiny sparkles all over the cave walls), they stuck their hands in mud at the creek to make clay gloves and cool down in the summer heat, they had a scavenger hunt to find various colors in nature.
They discussed big questions every morning, such as, “What does a good friend mean?” Beanie said a good friend shares with you. Others said, “They help you if you fall,” and “they hug you when you’re sad.”
One of the counselors has Indigenous heritage, being Metis and Mi’kmaq from the Eastern Woodland Territory, and she did sacred smudging with the children. She lit sage, using a feather to direct smoke into each child’s hands, and blessed them:
“I cleanse your Wildling hands that will build beautiful things in life.”
“The sage smelled smoky but also not smoky. It was strong,” reported Beanie.
There was probably more to the ceremony than this, but this is what Beanie remembered.
The second camp Beanie tried this past Saturday was Paddle-and-Paint camp: the children paddled a canoe out to a quiet beach, where they painted under an art teacher’s guidance, cooled down in the lake, had a picnic by the water, then paddled back. Doesn’t that sound idyllic? (It actually sounds like a scene out of a Victorian novel to me.)
Beanie did the Paddle-and-Paint camp with her friend from RTH forest school, Ladybug. Ladybug’s family also moved up here temporarily after the pandemic began, like us, but they had to leave partway through the school year. They’re back for a summer visit, and it was joyous for both the adults and children to reconnect. We didn’t see them as much as we’d have liked, but we hope we’ll all be back next summer to try again.
The previous week, while Taz and I were in Montreal, Beanie spent several days with her second cousins who were visiting from Toronto, and got to know them much better. They got on fantastically, and Beanie had a lot of giggles as they played together. Beanie said she’d like to go to a camp together with them next summer.
Beanie is an only child, so I feel it’s especially important for her to be close to her cousins, and to develop strong friendships. At 8, she’s changed schools several times and is already quite used to getting thrown into unfamiliar situations. She’s more adaptable than I was as a child, and that’s a good thing. But the downside is she hasn’t experienced going from year to year to year with the same group of kids, and really becoming fixtures in one another’s lives. I did get that advantage, and as a grown-up I realize how special it is to still have close friends who have known you since you were five or seven or nine years old.
When we were planning out this summer, Taz was worried about Beanie returning to RTH for forest camp. She’d had such a magical year there, what if summer camp tainted her memories? I disagreed. I wanted her to start off this peripatetic year with something familiar that she loved, since she would be facing so many unknowns later.
I used to believe as Taz did, that beautiful experiences should not be revisited; it could only detract from the memories. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t even consider returning to Stanford for graduate school. Being a grad student would be very different from being undergrad, I knew, and I was afraid it would suffer by comparison. I thought if I went back to the same university, I would be stuck, like I hadn’t moved on.
Two decades later, I feel differently—special connections don’t happen every day, and I find returning to the ones in my life can still be growth opportunities, can still be special, as long as I allow the second time to stand on its own and don’t look to repeat the same experience.
Finding the people and places that resonate with you is not easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some are there for a season and that’s their role; some will grow with you as you change—going back to these evolving relationships is a delightful discovery of new facets on both sides.
Even beyond this year, we’d like to continue a mobile life in some form, but we’ll have to be conscientious about maintaining strong threads through Beanie’s life. I hope that keeping some constants--friends, belongings, experiences—will help anchor Beanie as she’s moving through the world. We want her to find kindred spirits, people she can grow with, even if she doesn’t see them all the time.
After two weeks of RTH forest camp in July, Beanie said she liked the camp and it was even better than going to regular school there (“There’s swimming every day and no math!”). Then, a few days ago, Beanie told us she didn’t want to go back to RTH camp next year because most campers are younger, and she wanted to be around more kids her age. I think this summer was the appropriate coda for her RTH journey, a chance to be embraced again by a safe and happy place, while making fresh memories with old and new RTH friends. I’ll feel sad to leave RTH behind, but the camp was what I’d hoped it would be, and now Beanie recognizes she’s ready to launch forward to the next step—whatever that may be.
Pretty Good Things
Heel click thumbs up
Today, as we drove past a boy walking on the sidewalk, he did a heel click in the air, kind of like this:
and then he kept walking.
Seconds later, he did a bigger heel click, and as I watched, he grinned and gave himself a thumbs-up. He didn’t know anyone was watching; he was just pleased with his good heel click. It made me happy to see. Everyone should give themselves a big thumbs-up once in a while.
My Inner Wild
During the winter we lived here in Collingwood, we went snowy owl spotting with a guide who was somehow able to see the white snowy owls across white fields of snow. We were so glad we’d gone with him instead of trying (and failing) to spot them on our own. Chris McQuarrie is also a wildlife photographer who spends much of his time out in Ontario nature, taking amazing photographs. You can see them on his Instagram account My Inner Wild.
One of these things is not like the others
Thanks to my good friend Nik for this find: a Smithsonian story about fake sea turtle eggs 3D-printed out of a soft and pliable material called NinjaFlex, used by scientists to track turtle egg poachers at four Costa Rican beaches. An innovative use of 3D-printing technology to help save baby sea turtles!