Saturday, May 8, 2010

Summer vacation??? Longing for Maine.

Going to the strawberry field later's our tradition here to pick for the first time on Mother's Day weekend. There's nothing like those first berries, warm and ripened in the sun. For me, it is the beginning of summer here in the south. And speaking of summer...I've been thinking about this season quite a bit lately:

When I was little, summer was one big long day of relaxation. My parents never went on a family vacation...EVER. The week my Dad took off from his job in the woods was spent in his garden. The most vivid mental picture I carry of my dad--he died 21 years ago--is of him on his knees in his garden, Dickie work shirt rolled up to his elbows, forearms swarming with blackflies. (If you are a Mainer, you can appreciate this mental image more than a non-Mainer...just take my word for it, those of you "from away," these little critters are nasty and leave you covered in red welts.) But Dad never seemed to mind. I think he was most at peace in the garden, working the soil and harvesting the crops. Perhaps that's why I always think of him when I till my own soil and why, as an extended family, we all pull a few weeds in Dad's garden spot when we are home, even though my brother Jerry and his wife do the majority of the work. Have you seen or read A River Runs Through It ? The garden is the "river" of our family.

So, anyhow, summer...when I was little it was just a time of relaxation....egg salad sandwiches, homemade popsicles and  red kool-aid consumed under the pine trees with a good book in hand and long afternoons spent building little dams and running through the cold waters of Lowell Brook.  My parents didn't see the need to put me on sports teams and sign me up for summer classes (not that there were any in rural Maine); they didn't cart the family around to amusement parks and vacation spots. Mom and Dad did what they did the rest of the year and I was left to just be a kid.  Perhaps that's why I take my kids to Maine every summer for a month---to try to recreate those lazy days for them, to somehow step off the merry-go-round that we have somehow allowed ourselves to ride endlessly in our NC life. I don't know how to change things, maybe part of it is just being an adult with all the endless responsibilities, but then again, when I look back to those days, sitting on the porch with Mom and Dad, shelling peas and smelling the sweet Maine air after a warm summer rain, I can't help but think that my parents weren't spinning quite as fast as I am on the amusement park rides. " What is that Bible verse in Mark, "...Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Or how about, "Be still and know that I am God."

Call me selfish, but I hear the pine trees whispering and I can't wait to get to Maine...


  1. Hello,Being a cuz and in Maine I had to respond.Your blog made me so homesick. (and I am sitting here on the same piece of land where I grew up) I too can see your Dad(uncle Bobby) on his knees in that garden and yes the garden was the "river" of our families.Sitting on our porch shelling peas what can I say some great stories were told doing that chore.You so vividly pulled me right back on that porch with your blog.What I wouldn't give for one more day with Mom and Dad on that porch.The highlight of my Dad's summer vacation was having a bonfire under the pine trees and roasting marshmallows after a day of gardening and chores were done.Simple times long gone, but entwined in our souls forever. Thank you for sharing....Suzette

  2. Awwww, Suzette, you make me teary-eyed. Lots of wonderful family memories that grow mor special the older I (we) get...wanna come shell some peas this summer?? Love ya, Trish