Jules' is an incredible Daddy. He never planned on having children of his own and he still doesn't want any more. Regardless, he has fallen in love with the Spicy Barracuda and is the only father Barracuda has ever known. Around our household I have begun to overlook all the ways the two of them have been getting closer. Watching The Barracuda be inculturated into the world of males is quite the experience. There is so much I wouldn't have been able to show him as a single mom; so much I never even realized. This newly forming bond has never been so apparent to me as when we went to Georgia this last couple of weeks.
We go to Georgia every year to visit Jules' people. He moved here a few years ago and left his previous life, family, friends behind. This was the first time The Barracuda came and the first time any of Jules' family had seen him be a dad. From the initial plane rides (at 6'4" Jules' legs need a layover!) it was apparent that The Barracuda had decided his dad was where all the fun was at.
One of the neatest things we happened upon was the Georgia Mountain Fair. This is an old world fair where people come to demonstrate old skills which have been lost. There was soap making, shingling with a froe, apple cider presses, smoke houses, a corn shucker, and all sorts of neat stuff. The Barracuda didn't care much about those however... There were rides!
He remembered caramel apples from Charolette's Web and just couldn't wait to have one!
The Georgia Mountain fair is so named because it occurs in the northern parts of Georgia, right up in the Appalachians. After graduating from high school Jules thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail by himself. He knows these mountains well. So every day we took The Barracuda out on a hike. Hiking also meant climbing trees, learning outdoor ethics, and greatest of all for every boy: peeing outside!
There were waterfalls at the ends of most hikes so we could play in the water. You can't play in the water here because it is just too dang cold! The novelty of actually getting to stand at the base of a waterfall in the pools was quite a delight. Jules also showed the Barracuda the important boyhood skill of rock skipping and the splashing of girls (Mommy) to show your affections. Teaching The Barracuda appreciation and reverence for nature is an essential part of parenting for both Jules and I. This trip did a lot in furthering that education.
After visiting Jules' parents it was off to visit Uncle Campie. Uncle Campie has known Jules since they were in high school together and has two young boys of his own. There was much fun to be had in a household of three boys and two adult boy fathers. The testosterone was thick! Mainly this meant video games and Legos. There were other great moments as well. One large water balloon fight which entailed squeals of delight, driving lessons with the boys' Mustang Power Wheel, and lots of playing on the outside fort. It was nice to relax and let the boys all play together in a working, family household. (Sometimes I forget everyone doesn't have children and two jobs to juggle.) There is just so much I am thankful for Jules bringing into my life with the Barracuda. There is so much about being a boy I wouldn't begin to know how to explain, so much I wouldn't even know I should explain, so much that was evident in watching Jules with his best friend playing with their children.
For our last visit we completed our loop returning to the mountains. Nestled in rural acreage, we relaxed further into the company of old friends and an even older farm house. There is so much out in the country of Georgia that isn't in the city here at home. You can hear bullfrogs at night, the ground hogs come out to scuttle around at dusk, and the cicadas play all night long. Perhaps the most magical however, are the fire flies. Every night they rise out of the grasses and begin their blinking glow. It is as though burning embers are being blown through the meadows. There is nothing even close to compare it to at home. Much time was spent on the back porch, talking in the warm night, and watching the fire flies.
All in all, Georgia was quite a success. The Barracuda was lured home with the faint memory of his beloved Guadalupe. Jules and I were lured home with the all to familiar memories of home. As enchanting as the trip was, fireflies and all, it is no match for sleeping in your own bed in your own house. We breathed a collective sigh as we boarded our final plane home, and though we returned in the middle of heat wave, were very happy to have the vacationing over once again for another year.