I’m taking an abbreviated vacation to Goose Rocks Beach, in Maine, where my father’s family has been spending a bit of the summer for the last fifty or so years. When I was a child, I came with my parents every summer for a week. Most of the 4ths of July of my youth were spent lighting sparklers and dodging mosquitos on the lawn of the tiny cottage my grandparents rented.
We listened to, and later watched, the All Star game together, draped over couches or lying, chin in hand, on the floor. Grandma always brought fluff, a delicacy we only experienced with her. We lived in our bathing suits and ate sandy peaches and slept in sandy beds. And I could always entice my older cousin John into going to the tide pools with me to look for crabs. My aunt tells me I called him “Nicey John.”
My cousins, John and Sara, always came with their parents, too. There were never enough bedrooms so we just crowded together, sleeping in all sorts of odd configurations of parents and children.
It’s nicely reminiscent of those days here tonight: there are four teenagers in the house from the next generation. So I’m in a room with my 14-year old sister while my cousin’s daughter crashes with my aunt upstairs and the boys make do with air mattresses and couches in the living room. At some point, in the wee hours, my brother David will arrive from Denver and sleep for a few hours before everyone wakes up.
Tonight my grandmother, the original Jane A. Lindholm (we were always “big Jane” and “little Jane” or “old Jane” and “young Jane”), came over from her retirement home an hour away for the annual lobster dinner. At 96, she no longer comes to sunbathe or search for sand dollars on the beach. And I think at this point she’s earned a sand-free bed. But it was wonderful to have her at dinner. It was she and my grandfather who started the tradition so many years ago.
Things are changing. The current crop of teenagers is almost in college. There are big summer houses replacing the cramped shabby-chic cottages of yore. And there’s a move afoot by some of the beachfront property owners to try to privatize the public beach that we’ve all enjoyed frolicking on so much. So this could be the last year here for the Lindholm family.
So I’m doubly glad I’ve made it. I haven’t visited very often in the last 15 years–college and then jobs in other parts of the country took precedence. But these 36 hours have sent me right back to some of the best days of my childhood and I’m thankful to be reminded.