Oz. The pump for the domes was broken, so we ended up with a choice of Liberty, Newbird and the yurt; we took Newbird again, and Salome and Jack took the yurt.

R: Already less drama than last time!

S: Really?

Jeremy: Yes, by the time we got here, people had been arguing for three hours over who got which cabin.

Jack (without irony): Damn, and I missed it. I love interpersonal conflict!

Newbird was raw and sort of plonked into the woods when we were there last, in 2003; now the woods have grown up around it and it belongs. There was a very cheerful and friendly hopping mouse in our outhouse. I also saw a deer and fawn, and an opossum and a gopher. Salome and Jack saw moles. Nature being red in tooth and claw, about half of these instances of wildlife were dead when the weekend was over.

It turns out it’s completely impossible to concentrate on games with a three-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old spitting up or trying to eat the choking hazards. Lord of the Rings: Risk never got further than opening the board. Simpsons: Monopoly ended prematurely when we all nearly fell asleep in the yurt. We actually achieved two hands of gun rummy last night, before Salome declared the game stupid and announced that it was bedtime.

Instead of trouncing each other at things, we talked. This led to some oddly dreamlike results, as for instance:

Jack: Yeah, Heather used to be a huge activist.

S: That’s right, she grew gills.

Jack: Right.

R: Wait.

Jack (merrily): What?

R: Heather. Grew gills?

Jack: Yep.

S: Didn’t she break into a nuclear reactor?

Jack: Yeah, but the doctors never figured out if it was a mutation from the radiation, or just, you know, one of those weird things.

R: She grew gills.

S: I didn’t believe it either, so I went and asked her, and she showed me the scar where she’d had them removed.

R: Gills.

S: Well, she couldn’t actually breathe through them, they were just these flaps of skin.

R: Okay, I see what’s happening here. You two were lying in bed this morning, complaining about how I’m always making these authoritative statements with no evidence to back me up except what I read on the Internets, and you thought ‘How can we mess with her mind?’ And one of you said: ‘Gills!’

Jack and Salome (in unison): Nooo!

We cooked mountains of organic food, we ate it, we baked in the sun, we swam naked in the ice-cold river, we napped, we had hot bubble baths, we sat on the deck and looked out over the apple orchard and the meadows and redwood forests of the Garcia River valley; hawks screamed and there were turkey vultures, which last caused a certain amount of confusion among the child population:

Claire: Yummy turkey!

No Net, no cell service, no TV. I take all these big old books and end up reading a six-month-old copy of Harper’s someone left in the kindling pile. In short, Oz rocks. Next time we go, you should come.

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