One Fair Summer Evening

July 14, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Kids in the Country, Summertime, Vermont

You can only have good ideas when you have enough space. Last week I caught crabs in the sand and walked endless beaches with kids in search of the perfect wave. No time for the pressing emails or worry over projects gotten or not. The kids woke up early and the perpetual motion began anew. They ran us ragged. I exhausted my body which opened my mind. I was thinking, hanging out at Gay Head around July Fourth where Jaws was filmed, that watching Jaws in our yard would be fun. I don’t know where the idea came from. It was just there. It seemed so fun in fact that we rented it on vacation and watched it at the beach from our cottage instead, where we scared ourselves silly, and giggled at the 1970s street scenes.

But the idea of a movie in the yard lingered. I called all our friends and asked them to come to a classic drive-in right after we got home. Okay, well it wouldn’t exactly be a drive-in since we wouldn’t be in cars, but still…. I’d make a picnic supper and nail a sheet to the side of the house. This felt like a great summer idea.

There were skeptics. My son wondered about the technical aspects of the thing. “It won’t work” he flatly declared. “The picture will be awful, we won’t get everything hooked up. Mom this is not a good idea”

Not deterred I started planning what I would cook. The movie could flop but a whole bunch of fun food can save almost anything. A drive-in seemed to call for a picnic. I’d fry chicken for 25 people. And make a bunch of deviled eggs fresh from our chickens, and potato salad with potatoes from the garden. The basil is bursting so there could be a tomato salad. I have an old metal red checked lunch box that I could fill with blue and red napkins. And we could eat supper on the terrace with the chickens wandering around our feet. The whole thing would scream summer.

My husband worried about the bugs. A movie outside at night with fried chicken was sure to attract mosquitoes. And where would people sit? He bought three million gallons of citronella and a special funnel, ( which he tried out IN THE STORE, leaving a puddle and a confused check out girl who was last seen looking for orange cones to protect customers from the oil spill), with which he filled the torches and still he worried. I think he may have gone back for just a little bit more.

The party was yesterday. We hooked the VCR to the projector that I use for sales meetings. Then we hooked the stereo to the DVD player and the speakers to that. The sound and picture quality were simply superb. (That oldest son, the one who’d been so sure we’d have fuzzy pictures and rasping sound, wants to play video games out in the yard next) We nailed a big white sheet to the side of the house and the yard was filled with quilts and LL Bean chairs wrapped by a bevy of torches casting their little firelit glow onto the circle. We showed Jurassic Park and the ten foot high dinosaurs roaring from the side of our house could likely be heard way down on the Green. We had a free for all concession stand on the front porch with Dots, and Snow Caps. There were Rasinets, and M&MS too. And there was buttery salty popcorn and lots of licorice. The yard was filled with loud little boys drinking coke and grabbing two boxes of candy at a time evidently afraid that the adults might come to their senses at any minute.

Eloise our big Bernese Mountain dog meandered around the edge looking for scraps of chicken. Stuart and Pippi worried about the dinosaurs, and snuggled on the blankets next to the kids. Our friends’ dog Milo barked every time the T Rex came on screen.

Surrounded by our best friends, all of our kids, and the gentle funny man I married, I sat plunging my hand into a box of snow caps getting teary eyed over the sweet perfection of this one moment. Because sometimes, well sometimes, it just all works….


  • akakarma

    Perfect! Can’t say more than that! Jaws would’ve been really scary!

  • library lady

    Too bad I wasn’t there–I spent all those years in show biz, you know. I’ve always thought that Eloise was one smart dog. Who cares if there are giant dinosaurs on the side of the house if there is fried chicken to be found!

  • Anonymous

    Should I bring my own car door to hang the speaker from?

    And what’s showing next…?


  • Kate

    I love it! I just love it! And it kinda makes me a little teary-eyed to hear that it all worked out to perfection.

  • ILX

    ILX said in my town on wednesday night there will be a movie in the city park…going to go….won’t be the same as being in VT….

  • Don Mills Diva

    What an absolutely perfect idea. It just sounds wonderful and kudos to you for pulling it off – you have no idea how much I wish I were your neighbor right now!

  • painted maypole

    tomorrow we’re spending the day in vermont. of course I thought of you. 😉

  • Casdok

    Great idea, and so pleased it worked! You clever thing!

  • Jennifer

    It sounds like a movie, itself. I can just picture all of you…ahhh. I love those Moments. Yay!

  • Nellie

    I think I want to come back as one of your kids

  • Bia

    I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time!! A fellow blogger did something similar for her son’s birthday party in which they watched old King Kong movies.

    It sounds your evening was just lovely. As soon as fall gets here, we’ll do the same.

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