I’ve never been a woman to “make memories” or cherish photo albums, but here’s the thing: memory and story are so intertwined. The other night, eating dinner around a fire with the parents of my brother’s girlfriend, we began stitching our baggy and cumbersome story into their long and craggy story.
The daylight dispersed, dark pressed in around us, rain began falling in sprinkles, and still, patiently, back and forth, question by curious question, we kept at it.
Come January, sea fog, a curious barred owl, driving through a pounding rainstorm — these elements of August days we’ll remember in January.
I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel.
What’s up with the lilies in Vermont this summer? Even my kids noticed they’re crazy tall — like an advancing army of flowers, about the coolest thing imaginable, in a summer that’s turning not so temperate.
Now fully a teenager, my 14-year-old is not a street-legal driver, which in rural Vermont makes a real difference. She and her friends have their eyes on the road, anxious to spread beyond this small town.
Summer to her now seems interminable; I remember that sense as a small town girl myself, as though the hot days would just keep appearing, one after another. While I’m at work, I leave her alone for long periods of time, with two cats and a list of chores and the freedom to do what she wants, within these physical confines. I don’t know if that’s wise or not — but at the very least it gives her the space to imagine….
For four summers running now, my youngest daughter, her very closest friend, and I go camping every summer on Burton Island, far north on Lake Champlain. The lake is noticeably cleaner than it was four years ago; the girls are definitely older. We recount the year the raccoons ate our food and the year I forget the stove. This year became the year we forgot the tent poles. The girls fashioned a tent from a tarp and rope.
Always, this island enchants me with its summertime mystique, the fluff of seeding trees wafting like fairy confetti in the warm breeze. We’re never eaten too badly by bugs. The girls drink a crazy amount of hot chocolate.
I wake up early in the mornings and read by the lake — this chilly year in my jeans — watching the loons and the ducks with their offspring.
It’s both sweetly idyllic — how could such innocent happiness not be? — and simultaneously not idyllic at all. I write this not to draw attention to my own particular family scenario, but because so much of social media pushes families to believe that everyone is living that glossy, idyllic life. So, in my family, we are, and we aren’t. And I’m darn glad for every bit that we are.