“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better;
Some have gone but some remain.”
~ ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles
During this time of staying “Safer At Home”, I have begun a photo project converting snapshots in my family albums to digital files so that I can share them online with my loved ones, most of whom live on the West Coast while I live in Wisconsin. Scanning these precious images, I keep returning to a very special vacation spot that has been in the family for four generations.
We call it simply The Cottage. It’s a beach house built on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan some time in the 1940s by my father’s parents. My father first brought my mother there when they were courting as college students at Harvard/Radcliffe in the mid 1950s. I spent long weekends and extended weeks there in the summers while I was growing up. Here are some images from the party we had for my third birthday.
I last visited The Cottage with my mother, my sister and brother, my husband, and my four children in 2007, following my oldest daughter’s college graduation.
To me, The Cottage will always be about the feeling of summer freedom. Walking right out the front door onto the beach at any time, free to explore the sand, the water, the endless horizon, the numerous bits of driftwood and stone, I felt that my life was my own to create. We built sand castles, buried each other up to our chins in sand, jumped waves, collected “glassies”, scared seagulls, threw balls and Frisbees, and lit campfires. I wanted my children to have that same freedom.
We also challenged ourselves to bigger adventures, like canoeing down the White River and riding over the huge dunes, and treated ourselves to local summer pleasures, like root beer and ice cream.
Freedom and fun are the summer hopes of many children. In the present climate, these are threatened. But these are not frivolous dreams, these are the experiences that demand and build real growth. The ability to make choices and the motivation to make choices for joy must be modeled for the next generations. Limiting choices to staying insular, to keeping things as they are out of fear, is a dangerous example to give our children.
I fervently wish for this global pandemic to teach us the moral lessons we need to learn about continuing exploration and adaptation while treating all living things with compassion and wisdom. May each of you be safe and healthy while you look forward to freedom and fun.
Thank you, John, for hosting this week’s challenge and inviting us to go back into our travels, to remember fondly and to learn.
After a week of cool, wet weather with low temperatures in the 50s overnight, the Midwest summer has hit Wisconsin. My garden is thick with arugula, and the tomato plant is growing at the rate of a jungle vine. The heat index today is in the danger zone with a high temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 78%.
I refuse to turn on the air-conditioner in the house; I have none in my car. I rely on all those passive techniques my mother taught me when we were living in the 1875 Victorian in the Chicago suburbs. I don’t have an attic here; this is a Lannon stone ranch-style house. I open all the windows and the front door at night to let in the cool air and shut everything up when the sun rises in the morning. I have a box fan in the living/dining room, no ceiling fans.
Steve converses about Buddhist mindfulness. What does it feel like in this weather? Without judgement, accepting what is, what do I notice?
The trees are swaying outside my window. As hot as it is, there is a stiff breeze. I see a million shades of green. I hear the hum of the fan. Birdsong woke me at 4:40 a.m., before I shut the windows. I noticed smells inside the house after I shut them. Melting soap in the bathroom. Coffee. My body feels slow, swollen, lazy.
I am trying not to dread the fundraising event I am working tonight. The dress is “formal”. The open bar and silent auction are outside, on the patio. My dress is made of an unfortunately synthetic material (long story). I imagine I will sweat. I fear social embarrassment…and I do not. I don’t really care that much. I like myself. I do fine work. The rest is unimportant. I will practice being gracious and compassionate, and I will come back home to my cool stone house at the end of the evening, strip down and lie beneath an open window, waiting for a thunderstorm. All will be well.
Outside, the butterflies and chipmunks, the birds and deer and Charles the woodchuck go slowly about their summer growth. I imagine that while they may sweat, they do not fret. I aspire to learn their wisdom.
The longest day of sunshine in the whole year…and it’s Father’s Day. You have hours and hours to spend with your dad today! What will you do?
– go camping, go sailing, have a picnic, play on the beach, go to the zoo, take a walk in the woods, play in the back yard, snuggle on the couch, climb a mountain, go out to dinner, eat ice cream cones on the porch, sing silly songs, read stories, play with his beard, watch the sun set….
Spend time with your Dad. All you can. There will probably come a day when you have no more hours of sun or darkness to spend together in the world. In those days, you may spend time with your photographs and memories of him instead. It’s not a bad time…..but it’s not the same.
Dedicated, with love, to my dad (George) and the father of my four children (Jim). I miss you this long, sunny day.
Perfect timing! Believe it or not, this week’s photo challenge coincides with the first anniversary of my daughter’s wedding. Susan & Andy became engaged on July 28, 2012 and married one year later. We joined them for outdoor ceremonies in Madison, WI both years. The first year, the temperature was in the 90s (Fahrenheit). And humid.
For the wedding, although the sun was shining, the mercury never reached 70!
This morning, as Steve & I walked to a local breakfast cafe, I was wearing a sweater and a nylon jacket…it was 59 degrees out. Summer may not always be HOT, but here in the Midwest, it comes bearing flowers and greenery. Which is a wonderful way to show Affection, Tenderness, Beauty, Grace…and LOVE! I’m lovin’ summer here in Wisconsin!
We haven’t had rain in a few weeks, and things at Old World Wisconsin (the outdoor living history museum where I work) are very hot and dry. We closed down to a skeleton crew on Thursday because the heat index was over 100 degrees. Only 25 visitors came the entire day.I worked both yesterday and today, and now I have my swollen ankles propped up on the couch. I don’t have air conditioning at home, either, but I do have a ceiling fan and a strategic plan to keep the house cool. That plan involves making it as dark and cave-like as possible. Here are some other tips for surviving the heat:
cheat on the number of petticoats you wear (I went down to only one, but I don’t think anyone knew).
hide a wet dishcloth under your skirts or drape one around your neck.
plunge your hands and wrists into cold water from the pump.
skip the corset, if you dare (I haven’t tried this yet).
move as little as possible. This means I opt for sewing over playing the pump organ.
drink lots of water and stay in the shade (well, that’s obvious).
take a cue from the oxen, Ted & Bear, and get a friend to lick your ears. Strategic evaporation, you know.
Hmm. That sounds rather interesting….I think I’ll go find out what Steve is up to. ‘Bye!