Monday, July 7, 2014

forever and ever

We spent last week on Lopez Island, something that has become a summer tradition for us, thanks to our friends Henry and April. The boys and I took the first ferry of the morning a few days before everyone else arrived. As the ferry began to dock, we strained to see our first glimpse of the bucolic landscape. We watched for the farmstand on the drive to the house. The boys have reached the (milestone!) age and size such that they unloaded the groceries and bags from the car while I unpacked, Aleck Bay sparkling in the background. Then they inspected the house and surrounding woods, verifying that everything was just as they remembered it.

When I was a kid, we had our summer rituals, too, as everyone does; we fished, ate gooseberries and rhubarb from the yard, went to camp for a week. We'd go to Texas to visit my grandparents, and it always felt unchanged, even into my adulthood when I visited on my own and with my children, until the last few years of their lives when others helped care for them. They lived in dwindling, dry, windblown towns in the Texas panhandle and just across the border in Oklahoma. At my grandmother Louise’s house, first thing, I would look for my favorite of her salt and pepper shakers from her collection – a miniature toaster with a slice of white bread for salt, brown bread for pepper – and something about it would remind me of the little tabletop sombrero in my mother’s room, full of rattlers my granddad cut off snakes, so I’d check for that, and then I’d desperately need to spin a few times around in the midcentury chair in my grandparents’ bedroom.

We would catch horny toads in the flowerbeds and run through the sprinkler in the blistering heat; we'd swim in the river that ran through my granddad’s Oklahoma farm where the soil was red. I almost always saw a tarantula on the trip, fodder for nightmares until the next summer.

Our first morning on Lopez, as I stirred oatmeal, I watched a doe with her two spotted fawns step out of the woods and walk around the house, eventually disappearing from view.

Involuntarily, I slept like the dead whenever there was a pause in our activity at any time of day; I simply could not keep my eyes open. The boys’ energy was indomitable. They wrestled like puppies; dueled and built with driftwood. We dug for clams, and found five of the seven kinds native to the area. Sand infiltrated everything. We all went to bed and woke up gritty, despite our efforts to leave it out of doors. A couple of evenings, I hosed the boys down before allowing them inside.

Our last night, we sat on the beach in the gloaming for a long, long time, and in the placidity of that cove and the ending of that summer's day I felt a pure, undiluted joy. I struggle to find words to describe it; to convey the emotion it produced.

Summer is forever and ever.


Di said...

You leave me emotional, grateful for my own life, happy and grateful to you for sharing so eloquently with us. Here in the Southern Hemisphere it's cosy craftie days indoors with granddaughters which bring simple joy. We need ask for little more.

Jess said...

Thank you for your words, and these glimpses into a dream of a summer trip.

Lisa said...

I agree with have such a talent describing your journey that makes us grateful for our own.
Aside from that, this island looks like a simple dream. What a wonderful summer!

Molly said...

Lecia, this is so beautiful. Thank you for letting us be a part of it! xx

Deborah Dombrowski said...

I love your photographs and stories---I, too am a big fan of summer in this northern climate!

Lecia Phinney said...

Thank you, friends. xo