Tuesday was the Swett family bike ride. I didn’t ride, I was part of the picnic crew. The plan was that we would all meet at Two Lights State Park around noon. The 12 cyclists, ranging in age from 10 to 63, pedaled off mid-morning from CycleMania, where the out-of-towners rented bikes.

Around the same time, back at the camp we had rented for the week, my sisters-in-law were setting up their sandwich making assembly line. We loaded all the food into the cooler and headed out, leaving the sunshine behind and driving straight into a deluge. We kept thinking we’d outpace the storm, but it was persistent and kept up with us the entire way, with a bit of thunder and lightening added for good measure. Hope was in the blue skies and sunshine we saw in the distance — where our children and siblings and spouses were cycling in formation.

They rode across busy streets lined with cars and along quiet winding roads lined with trees. All the while, everyone was in sync, my sister told me, often communicating without words. When someone did have to speak, to warn of a pothole or a car up ahead for instance, it was like a comforting echo that reverberated from the front to the back of the line. 

It was on the final stretch, just a few miles from Two Lights that they realized there would be no picnic. Instead, they managed to wheel into the parking lot of the Kettle Cove Creamery and Cafe just as the rain hit. They quickly parked their bikes close to the building and dove inside, where they were greeted by dry and friendly faces.

The picnic brigade had just turned onto Two Lights Road when my brother called with the update. Seconds later we pulled up in the pouring rain and burst out laughing. Clearly, no one was moping or complaining about the turn of events.

They just trooped up to the counter and ordered ice cream. Happy grinning faces, saluting us with their ice cream cones. What a rush of love I felt.  And of course we joined them.

Eventually the rain let up. We didn’t make it to Two Lights, but the picnic still happened, out in the parking lot and later at our mother’s house. The wet seats got wiped off, the helmets went back on, and off they pedaled back to Portland. No dark clouds, just the blue skies and sunshine and lovely memories for all of us. We have been creating these summertime memories for the past 16 years, ever since we rented a big camp on Sebago Lake and threw a surprise 50th anniversary party for our parents. Even with the stress of planning everything and keeping track of our own children, who were all little at the time, we managed not to kill each other! There are eight of us (Diane, Debi, Cathy, Bob, Bruce, Mary, Patrick and Becky.) We’ve all got our different personalities, our foibles and quirks, and of course, our baggage from childhood. Still, each summer we spend a week together, the camp often so crowded with our children and grandchildren that all the couches double as beds and we have to set up tents outside. Our dad is with us now only in memory, but even though she’s anxious to get back to the solitude of her own home, our mom has been with us the entire week. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Thank you Bob and Beverly, for having so many kids!”