I’m starting to realize that the reason cliches are cliches is because they’re often true. Maybe not all, but certainly some. And the adage that summer goes faster every year? Oh, yes. My, that one is true. And it’s just so bittersweet; so bitter because it IS so sweet.
I’ve been reflecting on what this summer contained and on what it was.
Right after school ended, the four of us spent a weekend in New Hampshire. This was a very successful example of taking an important family tradition and morphing it to adapt to our growing children. Instead of going to Story Land during the week with just Grace and Whit, the four of us went ziplining over a weekend. We stayed at the same hotel, ate at the same restaurant that we loved, visited the same water park. The weekend was both familiar and new, and it was absolutely marvelous. The kids loved the adventure and I was so happy to mark the end of a school year with a joyful celebration.
We spent a long weekend with my sister and her family at my parent’s house on the Massachusetts shore. As always, there was noise and tumult and many, many special memories. It poured on the 4th of July. And it cleared into a lovely weekend. We saw fireworks, we swam in the rain, we went to the movies, we tried to take a Christmas card photo of the 4 grandchildren, we had family dinners around the large oval table, we watched my mother blow out birthday candles. I love this tradition.
Our hydrangea bush had very few flowers. We’re chalking it up to the long, cold winter in Boston. As usual, I can’t stop seeing metaphors everywhere – with the hydrangeas and in general. The bush is not flowering very much because it is bruised or wounded from a difficult winter. Hopefully it will heal and burst into bloom next year.
This year our children were away from us more than ever before. They spent 2 weeks at my parents’ house – a magical interlude with freedom to bike wherever they wanted, a happy and calm camp experience, new neighborhood friends, and lots of downtime with their grandparents – and then 3.5 weeks at camp. I missed them like a howling ache. But that’s not why I cried, after dropping them off and sporadically when they were gone. I cried because at this point I realize the future is studded with more and more goodbyes. The red cord that ties our hearts is going to keep stretching. Yes, I trust it. But I also find it difficult and sad.
Grace, Whit and I went to Niagara Falls for a few days. I have never been there, and they were excited to see it. It was just a little adventure and an opportunity to be away, together. Niagara was home to some of the most staggeringly beautiful natural vistas I’ve ever seen and some of the the least attractive man-made ones. Fascinating, paradoxical, enchanting.
I had a passionate love affair with peaches. I can’t explain it. I learned how to make jam (peach, of course). I even made pickles. Just call me Ma Ingalls.
Grace and Whit went away to camp for 3.5 weeks. They went to the same camp that I went to as a child, a place that remains crucially important to me. In a childhood of moving around, where I always felt like the new kid or the one about to leave, it was the only place I was just normal. I treasure their camp, and to watch them love it is a remarkable thing. I spent the last night of my 30s there, with them, celebrating the close of another wonderful summer. It was truly magical.
We spent a week on Lake Champlain at the end of the summer. This has become such an important marker in the summer for me: it’s a way to retain a connection to Vermont, the state where Matt grew up, and a way to reconnect as a family after the children have been away at camp. They love it there and so do we.