The following is a repost- Entitled Winding Down. Over the past year I have spent a great deal of time writing and reading. Not a lot of time outside. It is time to get away from the keyboard and turn off the TV. It is time to chase the little white ball around the golf course and take a few walks in the mountain air and put toes into the cold river falls. Will try to keep in touch by reading posts at cocktail hour or then maybe not. In the meantime, I am desperately seeking Annie.
Decision time as to how much of what and where.
For two weeks every summer our family takes a giant step back in time. We go to Cape Cod and rent in the same neighborhood where my husband and first wife, brought their boys on vacation 40 years ago.
It is wonderful to watch another generation enjoying the respite from the routine of schedules and structure. They play with their children on the very same beach where their father played with them. For two weeks “want to” replaces “have to.” Baseball games, trips to the museum, swimming at the ocean, going to puppet shows and fairs replace the priority of jobs, commuting, health clubs, care giving, and organized sports.
We go there to live differently. We bring our bikes, flip-flops, games, books, and lots of food. Showers are taken outside, towels dry on a line, doors are left unlocked, windows open, and music is playing. Two of our rental houses are near the bay. The children can walk out for a mile and a half during low tide. They play on the beach for hours. Parents can read books, do puzzles, and chat without worry. The family, their in-laws and friends, come and go easily, with two bathrooms and kitchens nearby.The other two families live near a beautiful fresh water pond. Here, the children can canoe, kayak and dive off a dock within feet of their parents. Polliwogs are the catch of the day.
We have nightly bar-b-cues, often decided upon in the late afternoon. It is usually potluck and those with other plans will go their own way but stop by later for a short visit on their way home. After all, we have to catch up on who saw what, bought what, discovered what and ate what. We share the experience.Our rental house is 50 years old. And it, like our vacation, is a step back in time. Never having been updated, it is comfortable and unpretentious. We are totally relaxed.
The screen door bangs and announces visitors.
“N'annie, Dad, you here?”
“We’re going to the beach, to shoot off rockets. The tide will be out in fifteen minutes. You coming down?” (Even our speech is more casual here.)
The door opens again. Trevor “borrows” some Parmesan cheese. They are having spaghetti for dinner. A half-hour later Justine returns the cheese.
I love having the grandchildren close by. We equally love the fact that they can come and go freely. Of course, I make sure that there is child friendly food in the house. A little bait is a good thing. What kind of respectable grandmother doesn’t have treats to swap for kisses and hugs?
The best decision we made after a few years of sharing houses was for each of us to have our own place. Parents can set their own limits without impinging on their siblings parenting techniques. Wives have their own kitchens, and everyone has a comfortable bed.
At the end of two wonderful weeks, the group assembles for the annual group picture. Sadly, when we started the second generation of family Cape vacations, our daughter was still with us. After she died, her husband decided to “adopt” us as his own. Like the rest of us, returns year after year. The first time we began the return to Cape Cod, after a brief hiatus, only one of the couples was married, and no grand children were yet born. With time, most things change. Some stay the same. WE have changed. For the most part the Cape is the same.
Our winding down at Cape Cod evokes many memories and emotions. We miss those who once walked with us on these sandy lanes and beaches. We remember the wonderful times we had together. But the third generation reconstitutes our sense of discovery and we relive the experiences with them.
There will probably be a lapse when the young become adolescents and they forgo the family vacation for summer jobs. But we know that they will be back with their progeny.The old pictures will come out and stories will be retold as memories permit. Tales twice told, will be now be embellished on a third go round.
©Anne Armand 2012