All of Summer in a Week and a Half

All of summer in a week and a half. That’s how it feels this morning, regardless of the cicadas’ buzz outside. Our summer lies dismantled on the living room floor: weary suitcases sag, waiting to spill our recent history, all disheveled, from their zippered seams.

Again I am newly amazed at the miracle of modern transit. A single day of driving, the small and obligatory sacrifice. We are home– and suddenly “now” is transformed, an unlooked for conversion into history, into memory, into “last summer.” I wake to risk: the subsumption of it all into laundry, into errands, into vacuuming up the dog hair.


Will and Everett brought Andrew and Peter this year, adding their names to the small collection we’ve “brought” over the years. Is it unfair to say that you can’t really know us until you’ve been there and heard that wind in those trees and tasted that salt?

My father and I bicycled into town and sat near an open window in the library, and talked about politics as we pedaled home.

We descended (and then ascended) the many (many) steep steps at Horton Light.

I bought sunflowers and blackberries from Krupski’s farm stand.

There was a mound of multi-colored cherry tomatoes from Wickham’s in a glazed bowl on the kitchen counter.

I listened to my mother practice the organ in the Presbyterian Church founded in 1732, and then we sat together in the first pew and talked about the faithfulness of God.

Emma and her grandfather picked raspberries from the bushes along the driveway; Emma and Everett picked raspberries from the bushes along the path to the beach.

We bought deli sandwiches and took them to a winery and shared a bottle of blush.

Some of us clammed with our toes at Fisherman’s Beach, and Bill bought some clams from the little boy with the rake, and I scrubbed the clams clean at the salad sink, and then Bill made “the best baked clams ever,”

Which made up part of the feast: baked clams, and fish tacos with spicy slaw and grilled zucchini, and sushi salad

With homemade carrot cake for dessert, because we were celebrating Emily,

Who turned forty.

We were reminded how to rig a sunfish from a video on YouTube, using the free Internet at the library.

I was reminded of all those sailing terms (sheet and halyard, stern and mast and coming about), and against all my better judgment and some rapidly approaching ill weather, I took each of my sons for a sail and realized I remembered how.

I decided that to sail was a decision against fear and against growing old, and it occurred to me that my grandfather would be pleased with me in any case.

Janke took the boys sailing and now they really know how.

Will and Everett spent the whole day on the water with Iota and Pachysandra (not their real names) and we thought we were very funny, and Will said, “She’s my only friend that I know how to get to her house by sea but not by land.”

I watched the entire second season of Call the Midwife with my parents.

I went for a four-mile run by myself; I went for a four-mile walk with my father; I went for a four-mile run with my son; I went for a four-mile walk with my sister– and every time with That View at the mid-point, where continuing with the walk-or-run means tearing one’s eyes away for the ascension of the hill.

Emma and I (each) read two (2) (different) novels.

Emma and I water-colored.

Everyone (nearly) played Chinese War, and I discovered the playing cards with the paintings by Hiroshige, and one of them was ripped in two, but it was only the extra joker; but still, couldn’t you just have put it safely away in the box, because of the beautiful painting of the hatted men crossing the bridge singly and in the rain?

It rained more than once, charming us (again) with the sound of that rain on those trees.

Theo came with his parents (Janke and Emily) and charmed us with his curls and his dimples and his extraordinary diction (he is only two), and rode his tractor in the driveway and ate everything (nearly) that was put in front of him, and played and played and played with Emma– and Will and Everett, too– but mostly Emma.

The Rochester cousins came with their parents and there were sparklers and smoke bombs in the driveway and taking turns with the sunfish and the canoe and Ben and Jerry’s late at night.

We missed the Alaska cousins.

We went to the winery with Emily and Janke and sat in the shade overlooking the vines and drank a bottle of Cab Franc and ate olives and thought that this would be a very fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And it was.

We had air so clear it was almost sharp, like the mouth of a mussel when you are pulling the sailboat in over the tall grass and it slices your foot open, so could that air, breathing in so gently at the windows, manage to slice your heart wide. And that, with the tawny sand, with the blue-grey-green water of the bay, was enough to make a summer of a week and a half.

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