Preview of Ponca

This was most of our collected kiddos at the time, with a few cousins from the West coast.

A few years ago we planned a surprise 70th birthday party for Mom, and it was also to be a reunion of sorts.  Mom’s one sister Maria lives in Minnesota, and her five children and their families are scattered hither and yon, mostly split up between Minnesota (hither) and California (yon).  We called and e-mailed and plotted and rented cabins and set in motion a reunion of all the families at Ponca State Park, a beautiful woodsy park in Northern Nebraska.

Mostly everybody from both extended families came, and mostly Mom seemed surprised.  It’s very difficult to keep secrets from our mother, since she can read our minds.  Seriously.  We told our cousins if they would get themselves there, we’d provide all the food.  These are amazing people, my cousins (more about this later) and we really sweated over the food (literally).  We pulled out our best recipes and doubled and tripled the quantities for what we thought we’d need.  We dreamed up new recipes.  We tested and tasted and tested some more.

You think I am exaggerating.  I’m not.

We ate all weekend.  We had a wonderful time.   It was excellent.  We decided to do it again every year, in the fall, forever and a day.

The picture above was of most of the children that we had at the time, and it was taken, probably, during an unusual break in the week-end rainstorm that happened, all weekend long.

I was carrying a secret–I was expecting little Mack, but nobody knew it, yet–unless they studied my face carefully, since it was an unusual shade of green (typical of my pregnancies), and guessed it.

Every fall since, we’ve planned an ambitious menu, cooked, baked, tasted, tested, and headed for the hills of Ponca together as a family.  The amount and the amazingness of the food that we cart up there is a running joke.  We all wear stretchy pants and laugh a great deal. We’re heading there tomorrow, and I can’t wait.

I’ll have a whole slew of pictures to share with you next week.

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