On holidays, most of my neighbors head for the lake or campground in search of quiet and relaxation. I don't have to because when they leave, they take their noise with them and I'm left with all the quiet I need, and some bird songs to go with it.
It is, of course, the 4th of July, which is my favorite holiday of the year even though I have no particular plans... ever... for it. But it's a good time to sit in the quiet of a holiday morning and reflect on how great summer is, and, of course, think of summers past.
Growing up, I'm sure we did other things in the summer besides head to the beach -- we had a trailer on the beach in Newburyport which at the time -- and even, today -- seemed like the height of luxury, but most summer memories begin and end with Plum Island. We might've stayed up there for weeks on end; we might've stayed up there for five days, it all blurs to me.
This, of course, was back in the time when parents let their kids out in the morning and expected them back for dinner. We'd go fishing, or scavenge for lures that washed up overnight, play "Army" on the dunes, build a sand castle, sit out on the tip of a jetty as the tide was coming in and pretend to be the captain of a ship in rough seas (scurrying off the jetty before the rising tide cut off our path of exit).
At night the family would have a fire on the beach and do the marshmallow thing. At least once, we'd head over to Hampton Beach for fireworks. A kid can't ask for better memories and my parents did a great job of providing them.
I often wonder what memories my kids have of their childhood and what will blur together as they get older. Will they be good ones?
When they were much younger, we'd take them somewhere and quite often it seemed as if they weren't having any fun. Then later they'd be telling someone about it and we'd overhear them talking as if it was the best day of their young lives.
But I wonder what summer memories will survive? Will they remember Sheffield, Mass. and the great cast of characters in that neighborhood on the mountain? Will they remember the July 4th up at Lynne and Robert's pond, with the picnic and the nighttime fireworks (real fireworks) over the water? Will it be Oshkosh? Will it be pounding golf balls into Newark Pond in Vermont, and then swimming for them, only to shoot them right back into the pond?
The picture at the top of the page is from 2003 and Sean and Patrick were atop Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. It was during their "paintball period," so I think they were plotting what sort of strategy they'd employ if they had their weapons, which they didn't. My parents took us to Mt. Monadnock for a picnic at least once a summer, it seemed. This was the last time I went with them. A few months later, my Dad was dead.
This week Sean and Patrick moved out of their apartment up in Maplewood and moved into new places. Sean has moved to a complex in Woodbury, just 2 1/2 miles away from the empty nest. Patrick has moved into some student housing in White Bear Lake, a stone's throw from Century College, where he'll be finishing up his paramedic training.
I rented a truck and we packed them both up, they spent a night at the nest, and then I unloaded them at their respective places the next day. I wouldn't be 20 or 22 again for anything. Setting out on new frontiers is always a bit disconcerting for young people, made more so now by a difficult economy and rising prices. But I'm betting they're already making good memories.