I spent the last week of summer in the most special place I’ve ever known. Laughing until my belly hurt with childhood friends, laying under the stars, reminiscing of all the moments we shared here. Watching the magic of the Lodge through the eyes of my children…. inherently instilled through the generations. Listening to the splashes in the water, their endless giggles. Skinny dipping until the wee hours of the morning. Going to sleep with wrinkled fingers and toes night after night. And as always, the river healed me. In more ways than I knew I needed.
Black River Lodge, my favorite person from there says, “A place to rest your weary soul”. A place so special, very few ever have words to describe it. Something so much more than a place. We wait a whole year until the next time we pack up the car, round the bend, cross the bridge and finally feel what we have all been missing the past 365 days. A place where our great grandfathers and grandmothers splashed in the river as kids, collected tadpoles, floated the rapids, sang songs around the campfire, slept under the stars and grew together, year after year. The Lodge is a place for firsts. Your first crush, your first sip of alcohol, your first kiss, your first time jumping in the water under the moonlight naked. The kind of experiences you will remember for a lifetime. And as time moves, some of those generations pass on without ever truly fading. Their spirits illuminate around you. They are in the smells from the campfire, the giggles of the children experiencing the magic for the first time, the sound of rapids rushing across the majestic rocks. It’s their spot you always remembering them sitting in at the dining hall for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. They have never truly left us. As all good things must come to an end, the next is born to start the tradition all over again.
While many of our stories have the same bones, we all wrote them differently throughout our time at the river and the years in between. Even though I have grown into adulthood, the lodge still makes me feel like a child again. A week to be born again, to live again in the memories that never end. Every year we are apart makes us closer, we yearn for the laughter, the love we share, the days where time has no meaning. Our children following in our footsteps, becoming our mini-me’s of the Lodge. Starting the beautiful cycle again just as our ancestors had envisioned. As a little girl I dreamed of my future, where I would go, and who I would be. I would build dams in the river to create little pools of water where I could build my tadpole families. I would name them and quickly narrate their life stories and who they were. I would picture growing up, getting married, and having a family of my own someday to share all of this with. To see it all again so innocently through their eyes. I would lay under a blanket of stars on the bridge late at night and watch shooting stars with my closest friends. We talked about where we would live, who we would marry, what our future children’s names would be.
I have always been an open person, and I am known best for wearing my heart on my sleeve. I don’t hide any part of myself from the people that love me. This year, at 33, there was a first for me. I was open about medicating with cannabis. I was confident in sharing that part of me with family and friends who asked me about it. Over the past year they have seen me on social media and the Swade site telling my story and putting myself out there in a way I have never done before, in a way they had never seen before. I expected it to come up but not as much as it did. At our last Swade event, “Marriage, Margaritas, and Mary Jane”, a person in the audience asked me a simple question. “How do you talk to your friends about cannabis?” My gut response was to lead by action, own your why, and stay confident in your beliefs. I felt like I had let this listener down. I was let down. Not because it was wrong or inaccurate, but because it was so surface. It felt empty. Later that night, I began to reminisce on how and when cannabis came up at Black River Lodge. It was never because I was talking about it. It was on their terms when they felt comfortable or curious. I’ve learned that actions really do speak louder than words. I love it when people challenge me, “Wait, you smoke weed? But you’re a mom!”, “You smoke pot and get all that done?”, “I don’t have any energy to work out, I can’t believe you get high and exercise.” Lead by example. This is the only true way to break stereotypes and eliminate people’s outdated assumptions.
At the beginning of the week, there were a lot of great questions that sparked awesome conversation. It was casual and it was really starting to get fun sharing this part of myself so openly. The week was amazing, every day filled with sunshine, the beautiful water of the Black River, good music, beer and endless fun. The days were for the kids, we splashed, collected rocks and crawdads, floated, enjoying every second of the day with zero worries. Time moves slow at the river, it’s most precious gift. After the bell rings for dinner, we gather to eat and head off for the tractor ride. I get to share with my kids the memory of a man that created this tradition, a very special soul, Casey Jones. Me, his namesake. Through the passed down stories you can see the spark in their eyes and feel that timeless nostalgia running through your veins. Every night there is an activity in the lodge that brings everyone together for more laughter and moments that will last a lifetime. We have talent show night, weenie roast night, bingo night, dance night, race night….and the list goes on. When they end, all the parents carry their very tired, nearly sleeping children off to bed and the evening becomes theirs. The night sky opens, and the lodge becomes different. We become kids again, exploring, flirting, singing, dancing, feeling the same way you used to feel playing truth or dare under the bridge. The magic comes rushing back, the ecstasy of your youth. After everyone went to sleep, my husband and I would walk through the lodge and down to the river at its quietest time. Keeping each other accountable to our pact of skinny dipping every night. We swam and kissed, shivering and giggling under the same stars I dreamed under as a little girl. I think that little girl would be proud of me. We walked back to the cabin, wrapped in towels to go to sleep, only to wake up and get to do it all over again.
Most of my friends thought we were crazy, staying up so late and having to get up the next day to hustle with the kids. There is no secret in my game, I am a canna-mom. Medicating with cannabis gives me the ability to fight stress, worries, migraines, body aches, and enables me to properly relax in my down time. Settling my mind and body to sleep was always a struggle for me, and now that my sleep is adequate, I feel like a new me. A better me. I chose to bring the disposable Sinse vapes. I kept it simple and brought 2 strains I know work best for me. My favorite day time pen is the Sinse Blue Dream. It is a sativa which gave me a lot of energy during the day and a clear head to balance all of the festivities and hustle with the kids. I also used it before the evening’s event. After the kids went down for the night, I then loved the Sinse Cherry Pie vape. Being a hybrid, it was the perfect amount of relaxation but enhanced my desire to stay up and enjoy the evening. When traveling with kids and family, convenience is my top priority. This sparked a lot of peoples’ interests. For younger people, they loved the idea of no smoke. As for the older piers, they were intrigued. Growing up in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s all they ever knew was smoking joints. It was thrilling to sit around the campfire and get asked questions from this generation. It brought out a different perspective and acceptance. And in the end, they educated me as well. Never did I picture this as a kid. This opportunity was meaningful and yet another memory that will stay with me.
Even though you have known all these people your whole life, you really haven’t learned everything there is. Life is ever changing, and we never stay the same. I was blessed to share new things about myself because it helped me grow personally. In exchange I helped others see things from a different perspective that broke the mold of what some would refer to as a “stoner” or “pothead”. The stigma is dying, folks. Buckle up and enjoy your ride.