It was fast becoming one of those summers that got away. And this weekend I decided things had gone far enough. I took Eli to the Vineyard on Friday morning. We got up before the chickens and carried our steaming mugs of cocoa and coffee to the highways. We were there by lunchtime settled into a cool booth at the Black Dog with the two big kids eating burgers and giggling about the way the sun has colored them both. Benjamin is a blond again, even his eyebrows. He hasn’t been this blond in years. But unending days on the beach with a bunch of little boys who want “More Benjamin more…let’s go in again!” will do that to you I guess. Both of them were brown as nuts too. The salt water and ocean winds had mussed and streaked their hair and they looked like flower children with long lovely natural looking highlights and their teeth were shiny white against those tanned bodies.
Hannah had to work in the afternoon so it was with the boys that I headed to Benjamin’s new favorite beach, Great Rock. It is secluded and known mostly by the locals. You walk down a long winding flower scented woodsy trail to get there. I have always had crummy balance and the steep decline was hell on my toes and my posture. I tippy toed along hanging onto my six foot three inch oldest son, who wondered how in the hell I was going to manage ever being old. We kvetched all the way down the hill and then there it was. The beach is surrounded by small clay cliffs and the great rock 100 yards from shore where we swam, and which Benjamin climbed and dove off of like a teenage porpoise flipping and splashing and playing with his little brother. We came home tired and sandy, full and happy.
The next day he worked and Hannah was off so she took us to the secret pond. Ice House Pond has just been opened this year to the public. Only twenty bathers at a time may swim and the Land Bank fellows meet you at the trail head to take your count and dole out the rules. On the day that we went we were the only people there. The water stretched out before us, a shimmering flat mesmerizing invitation. Surrounded by a piney wood we swam and swam feeling like maybe we were the only people left in the world. Eli and Hannah played with the fish who were as curious about us as any critter seeing a new mammal might be. Un-used to people they darted in and out of our legs and swam up close to get a better view. While they giggled over the fish I floated, just me and the water, the distant hum of my kid’s voices and the wide open sky. It was in all ways a lovely moment in what has been a hectic summer.
Then yesterday they were both off and back to the beach for another long day of salty breezes under a perfect blue sky. We spent Sunday evening cuddled up on the dock in Menemsha listening to the local Bluegrass guys pick out the old songs for a whole new generation. I left Eli there yesterday and he reminded me that he is practically a teenager and the reminders I called in every half hour on my way home were no longer necessary.
What was completely necessary though were those moments in the water, on the trail, and on the dock listening to the sounds of these almost grown up voices reminding me that we have a whole nother lifetime ahead of us. They are making their lives, and these bits outside of college offered us all a glimpse of what the next ones might be like. Somehow they get up every day go to work on time, and on their days off find these places filled with natural beauty where they spend their free time. These are the people whom I love deeply with a fierce passion, but they are also people I respect and like. They are smart, well informed, funny and kind. And they understand that a quiet perfectly beautiful spot is often better than a busy popular one.
They spend their extra dollars on ice cream and wonder that all the really good stuff is free, Oh they love the shops too, but hadn’t felt called by them in all the weeks they had already been there. They are learning how to please each other and themselves. There is no one to mediate their squabbles and so they are quieter in the mornings until coffee has been drunk and the edges have been softened. They are becoming who they will be in this next phase and we held hands as we tasted each other’s cones and felt amazed by it all together. It didn’t need words, just rich chocolate ice cream with raspberry swirls and sand between our toes. This summer didn’t get away after all….