Farewell, for real

Winter shows off its resilience at the Lebo Compound in bucolic Etters, Pa.

Winter shows off its resilience at the Lebo Compound in bucolic Etters, Pa.

Yesterday’s snow is melting as we prepare to shove off for good.
We’ve spent a long weekend at the Beer Can Compound in York Haven, Pa. We’ve celebrated Lauri’s birthday, secured Max’s 150th anniversary junior ranger patch from Gettsyburg and learned at long last to appreciate Idiocracy.
I’ve sequestered myself over the past 24 hours in a frenzied effort to catch up on some writing before we say farewell to Pennsylvania. In a couple days, we’ll see Lauri again in Durham, N.C. But that’s another story.
On Saturday, we drove to Gettysburg with twilight looming and reconnoitered with Lauri, who’d delivered a presentation for work at a hotel on the outskirts of town. It was raining when we arrived at the visitors center, and the elements were not favorable for an hour of clambering over rocks in Devil’s Den. We decided on the indoor option, and selected the pricey ($12.50 for adults) Cyclorama, movie and museum option.
We didn’t have time to appreciate the museum in even a small way, but we hurried to help Max complete his requirements for the junior ranger patch. The cashier had told us we’d need to be back by 4 p.m. to ensure a successful mission, but we didn’t make it till 4:15.
As we exited the cyclorama, Max’s face was wet with tears. He was inconsolable. The imagery of death and destruction and thunderous soundtrack were too much for his 5-year-old soul to bear.
“Am I going to die?” he sobbed. “I don’t want to die, Mama.”
Damn. It would be a hell of a failed expedtion if we scarred our son and failed to get him a badge. We were jumpy as rabbits scampering about the trees atop Seminary Ridge in the moments leading up to Pickett’s Charge.

With time slipping away, Becky and Max rush to answer questions about Gettysburg to satisfy the junior ranger requirements.

With time slipping away, Becky and Max rush to answer questions about Gettysburg to satisfy the junior ranger requirements.

We clattered down the steps and raced through the hall in the direction of the ranger station. We would not be denied.
Fortunately, we encountered another gem of a NPS park ranger. They’re all gems. This one is Matt Atkinson, a transplanted Mississippi boy whose 4-year-old son thinks Gettysburg is the heart of Rebel country. Somewhere, Robert E. Lee wishes it were so.
“My 4-year-old boy was up on Little Round Top the other day with a toy gun,” Matt said. “He was shooting Yankees. What he doesn’t know is his mom’s a Yankee, and we’re living among Yankees.”
Matt is a good-natured Tupelo native and an accommodating ranger. He rose to the occasion when the time came to swear in Max as a Gettysburg National Historical Park junior ranger. He did it with gusto, and never once mentioned the lateness of the hour.

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Gettysburg ranger Matt Atkinson swears in the park’s newest junior ranger.

Anyway, it’s past 1. I just wanted to get these photos up and say a quick farewell before we headed south. We need to hit the road before the temperatures plunge and the melted snow turns to ice. Thanks to all our friends in central Pennsylvania for their incomparable hospitality.
We’ll see you again on the other side.

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One Response to Farewell, for real

  1. Didi says:

    Congratulations, Max, on your new Ranger badges!! You look so handsome in your Ranger vest! We miss you guys, and will keep up with you through the blog and phone calls…be safe!!
    Love,
    Didi and Nana

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