This particular spring brought some new things: new baby kicks, trees blossoming (always new, even if an annual event), surprise snow showers, and a new element of Mister's job--attending conferences. He had gone to a few conferences before, but this spring, it seemed that there were always multiple conferences looming on the horizon. Some were short 1 or 2-day affairs. Some were small and by invitation only, like seminars. Some paid Mister to attend, and others had attendance fees. The eclectic nature of conferences was still a mystery to Kate, but she came to understand through this season that they were an integral part of Mister's work. The conferences where he presented papers helped with his name-recognition and networking. The smaller seminars were important for learning and discussion, hashing out ideas and in some small way trying to change the future of how economists think and operate.
Spring Break was just such a time for a conference. This was a large, annual conference--though one that Mister had never before attended, about 4 days long. Mister went to Charleston, South Carolina for those days, which fit perfectly into their Spring Break plans to go down and meet the Millers in Florida afterward. And for those four days, Kate got to stay in Savannah with their dear friends who had moved away from Fairfax.
This surprised Kate--the fact that she thought of them as "dear friends." The Millers and Kypes had not known each other long before the move, nor had they spent considerable time together. But there was a certain, unexpected understanding of heart that had formed an instant bond, and Kate was altogether thrilled when she first realized that in the last several years, God had given her not just one, but several friends who had surreptitiously moved from "acquaintance" to "dear friend"
The drive down to Savannah lasted between 6 and 7 hours, and Teddy behaved better than either of his parents expected. He slept and played with crinkly plastic things in the food box and drank formula like it was his job. Kate was feeling under the weather with a slight cold. Normally, she didn't mind being sick. She liked the excuse to slow down, and generally dealt with the stuffiness and sore throat with her tried and true remedies of non-stop tea and decongestant. And of course, easy days at home were always welcome. But with a baby, she minded. Getting up in the middle of the night to make a bottle for a screaming baby wasn't tops on the list of helpful recovery activities.
But there was no better place to be sick without Mister. The Kypes house was that big, gracious, old Georgian style, and their family was just the same. They had a 1-and-a-half year old (exactly a year older than Teddy) and Kate once again had the joy of seeing the special kind of interest that small children have only for each other. Kate's friend, Jillian, had a sister from Ethiopia who was visiting for the first couple days of Kate's stay, and Teddy was completely taken with her. He would stare and stare at her beautiful chocolatey skin and giggle in delight if she so much as graced him with a smile (which she was always happy to do.) Kate actually felt a little jealous...but it was so fun to see him notice things and start having preferences.
The long weekend ended with a jaunt to downtown Savannah, driving past scenic parks full of wedding parties, exploring the boardwalk, and (ever Kate's favorite occupation) investigating a large candy shop which rewarded them their troubles with fresh pralines. Kate marvelled at the ancient houses, monuments, and bridges of the old city.
"You know," she said, "growing up in Alaska, it was easy to understand the beauty and power and grandeur of God from nature. The hugeness of the mountains and the wilderness, and the smallness of myself...they were both obvious and overwhelming at times. But moving to the D.C. area, I've learned a whole new appreciation of the amazing knowledge that God has given man to create things...these huge buildings with intricate carvings, fountains, machines, mathematics and architecture. And then to remember that man's wisdom is foolishness to God! It's vast and humbling in much the same way."
And of course on Sunday, Mister finally returned from his conference! They celebrated their happy reunion with a lunch from Green Truck, the famed Savannah burger joint with enough rapport to increase the value of the houses lucky enough to be within walking distance. Burgers might sound anti-climatic, but this was far from the case. These were famed burgers for a good reason, and Kate had been craving just such a juicy, savory, avocado-ey, mass of goodness!
So they ate and loaded up their things and said their goodbyes and hit the road again. Together once more, with a baby, off on another adventure to Florida.