Summer was the closest we came to pure joy when we were young. Freedom from school, being set loose on the beach, with adventures so plentiful we didn’t even have to go looking for them. We had a group of close “summer friends” who we’d see every year from June till September, and we’d be together from first light till we were too exhausted to do anymore.Read More
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A great beach friend from childhood and, in some ways, even before--our parents had been friends when they were young, and our grandparents before that--posted on my facebook page today. We were reminiscing about Helen Hubbard--a neighbor who lived on the Point, and for whom my fictional beach town "Hubbard's Point" is named. Betty reminded me of how we used to crouch under Helen's window to listen to her practice. Helen was an opera singer and voice teacher, and when she sang it was beach music--as much a natural sound as seagulls and wind blowing through the pine needles. Once or twice a summer she would give recitals and invite grownups from the Point. That didn't stop us kids from sitting outside and enjoying the performance.
Betty and her sisters and brother and my sisters and I were across-the-road neighbors, and pretty much inseparable from Memorial Day through Labor Day. We loved summer and each other. The beach was OURS. As I wrote back to her, we swam and laughed all day. Mim, my grandmother, and her great-aunt Florence would hang out together too, tell old stories, go for swims in their skirted bathing suits and white bathing caps.
When Betty's family visited Ireland--often--they would come home with Irish linens, wall-hangings, and tea towels. My cottage is still filled with the many gifts they brought us.
Her family had a party every Labor Day. Such a bittersweet gathering! The weather would still be summery, but fall and school and--especially-leaving the beach--were in the air. We'd walk down the steep steps from their cottage to glacial rock ledge sloping into Long Island Sound. Black-eyed Susans, bright pink sweet peas, and lavender flowered spearmint grew at the top of the rocks. A picnic table would be set with plates of sandwiches, platters of sliced honeydew and musk-melon, and--the piece de resistance--Aunt Florence's soda bread and blueberry buckle.
We'd make that party last as long as possible, because as soon as it was over it was time to pack the station wagon and head up to New Britain for the school year.
As Betty says, our memories are a treasure in themselves. She is so right. Just connecting with her today makes me remember everything, and smile, and feel so happy. I wish I had a picture of us all as children--if I did, no doubt our hair would be wet, someone would be adorned with seaweed, there'd be sunglasses, flip-flops, and a few Good Humors in the picture. And we'd be doing our best and not succeeding to keep from laughing.
Today was gray and overcast, the perfect time to curl up with a book ("The Wave Watcher's Companion" by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a gift from Adrian,) some iced tea (made with mint from my sister's garden,) and three cats. They came and went--Maggie slept by my right knee, Maisie dropped a catnip apple at my feet and wanted to play, and Mae-Mae reclined on the windowsill watching birds fly by. Madeleine stopped on her way home from the library, and she had iced tea but wanted fresh ginger grated into her glass, and we visited for awhile, and told me she's currently rereading "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. As you can see, Maggie is enjoying both the book and the catnip apple. Some summer days are nothing but bliss.
I’m writing this in a beach house with doors open to the sea, listening to the waves and feeling the salt air. A pod of pilot whales swam by a little while ago; I watched their glossy black backs lift just before then sounded, and felt strong love for them and all creatures in our beautiful oceansRead More
Coolly sophisticated and steadfastly single, Caroline Renwick has always been the sister everyone could count on. As she and Clea and Skye gathered at Firefly Hill, their childhood home, Caroline thought that they had all put the past behind them. But as summer gets under way, a mysterious man arrives—a man who has the power to bring it all back...Read More