Where Summer Never Ends – The New York Times


One summer time, when my twin boys had been three, we loaded up the automobile with pull-ups, crayons, plastic toys and, oh sure, clothes and swimsuits, and headed north on a seven-hour drive to Maine. Our vacation spot was a lakeside resort, referred to as Quisisana, in Southern Maine, the place I’d labored one summer time as a chambermaid once I was 19.

I used to be, it have to be mentioned, a awful chambermaid, overly delicate to cleansing merchandise, dreamy and gradual, inclined to “skim,” for much too lengthy, any novel that occurred to be mendacity on a pillow once I was purported to be making the mattress. And but the sensory expertise of the place, after 9 weeks, was deep infacet me: the carpet of pine needles alongside the pathways; the brilliant, recent odor of the wooden cabins; the sound of the bells that rang out, asserting the beginning of a meal, like somebody’s mom hollering down the road, solely extra melodic. And there was the lake, with its small, sandy seaside, a showcase for sunsets, a dependable supplier of breezes. I had felt linked to the resort once I was cleansing different individuals’s bathrooms; I used to be pretty certain I would love it extra as a visitor.

On the best way up, I puzzled how a lot the resort would have modified: If there can be Wi-Fi within the cabins, or, God forbid, flat screens; if the Sunday night time buffet had been consigned to the annals of gluttony; if the assembled eating room employees, on the Fourth of July (on the shut of lunch), nonetheless sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

The vacation is, by now, an annual summer rite, its traditions and smells so familiar that I sometimes feel my current self blurring into the one who was there the year earlier, or the year before, or even some 30 years earlier. By the halfway point of vacation, I can fall asleep on a grassy finger that juts into the lake and wake, an hour later, disoriented: Which me am I? Am I late for laundry duty or, oh, right, maybe I should be finding my kids?

My kids, maybe especially, regard as sacrosanct this one-week vacation, which promises a freedom and independence that also has a throwback appeal. The children who come with their families the same week every summer tend to travel as a pack, readily absorbing new ones into the fold. The older ones look after the younger, all of them keeping busy with chipmunk-chasing, elaborate games of tag, highly engineered sand excavations that they manage on the beach.

At night, the children, along with the grown-ups, attend performances put on by the staff, who are mostly professional and student musicians and performers: Guests see, for example, chamber music Sunday night, a musical the next. The children want to be included in all of it, which is why seventh graders who ordinarily resist high culture with Maoist zeal have been overheard comparing notes on the performance of the soprano in “L’elisir d’Amore.” After the shows, the tweens and teens stay out as late as we’ll let them; sometimes they lie by the lake, stare at the stars and confide to each other the kinds of things you can tell friends you have known for years — but only see once a year.

My friends, I know, sometimes think that we are crazy to go, time after time, to the same vacation spot. There is an opportunity cost to returning to the same place every summer — adventures forsaken, new tastes that go untried. But there is also something emotionally reassuring about returning to a beautiful benchmark with punctual regularity. We don’t measure the boys’ height on the inside of a closet; but amid the blur of family life we can measure their progress by the lake and recall it distinctly. There was the summer a sweet member of the beach staff coaxed the boys, as toddlers, to dunk their heads underwater for the first time; the summer they believed the older girls really were mermaids; the summer they first jumped off the dock, first swam, first kept an eye out for the smaller swimmers.



Source link Nytimes.com

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