Well, okay, perhaps we’re not entirely back to anything that constitutes normal. August may have come to an end, but it’s still summer by my reckoning.
My sweetie and I have a long history of ignoring the whole “Summer Ends on Labor Day” notion. In a move that I suspect was considered subversive parenting at the time, my boys never played any version of organized soccer when they were little–not because of any deep-seeded concerns I had about future head injuries or the nuttiness of distributing trophies for showing up, nothing like that. I just wasn’t willing to give up my early autumn weekends to hang out on the sidelines of pee-wee anything. I’ve always adored the linger-y late summer days that come on the weekends in September and October. I love heading north and hiking when the bugs aren’t so numerous and the sleeping temps call for an extra layer of flannel or wool. Oh, how I love the change in the air, in the light. We kept packing our family up and getting out in it, wherever it may be. And putting on more outerwear, as required.
So when our grad student summer sublet lease ran out, the transition from no more daily walks over the footbridge was offset by a required drive north. New Hampshire beckoned while the contractor scurried to finish up our renovations. We had no where else to lay our heads, so off we went.
Oh, what a week we got.
While the rest of the world seemed ready to call it a season, my beloved and I dove in to summertime, better late than never. We gratefully received the gift of six glorious days, made epic by a seemingly endless supply of blue skies and soft air. Maybe summer had been just like this when we were closer to home, packing boxes and schlepping them hither and yon, trying to remember to look up when the sun set over the river, but no matter–by my estimate, our forced relocation made the best sort of vacation. The kind where you get to just sit still for a bit, and drink it all in by the bucketfuls.
Our favorite swimming hole. With a new and improved sandy beach, a curious happy bonus of Hurricane Irene’s wrath. Water clear and cold and beautiful to swim about in, eyes open. Or goggled, in my case. Yes, we had it all to ourselves for a spell. Then we shared it with happy families and dogs who chase rocks. We loved it, both ways.
Oh, there were some activities: projects that included emptying out closets, prolonged US Open watching (a curious treat, at the end of our TV-less summer sublet), hikes for my sweetie and bike rides and my sacred five mile walk for me, over and over, delighting me with new views of old favorite vistas, every time. New wildlife too–a first-ever otter spotting, a moose with velvety nubs of new antlers, a bear who got up on his haunches to see what I was about. There were cedar waxwings and pileated woodpeckers–who came right to our picture window!–and our beloved beavers, who provide a regular pre- or post-dinnertime show as they swim about their little pond, surveying their realm, pulling up reeds and grasses and lazily nibbling the greenery.
My beloved, in a familiar spot, looking across the notch to Mt. Washington. We were regular tourists, took the gondola up, then hiked to the Wildcat D summit to eat our sandwiches and admire the view. While there, we chatted with two Appalachian Trail through-hikers–a young man from PA hiking north to south, and a 100-pound 69 year old woman, who admitted that she’d only started in Virginia, not Georgia. Through hikers live for days like this–blue skies, and trails above the timberline. We felt lucky to meet them both.
Towards the end of our week, went on a road trip to a wedding on the coast of Maine. We drank up more beauty, more amazing skies. We got misty when the minister (who was also the groom’s father) choked up over the phrase “Love is kind…” It was as if he was hearing the words in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians for the first time–that, or realizing that he was saying them to his son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law. We stood amazed, at the beauty of the salt marshes and waterfront and the longest, loveliest lawn you can imagine, a spot worthy of an Edith Wharton novel.
And then we drove back to New Hampshire, once again through towns with names like Minot and Gilead and South Paris, encountering a pale pink sunset with an ever-growing crescent of a moon. It stayed light long after the sun disappeared, the way it does when the pink hangs onto whatever’s left up in the sky–cirrus clouds, jet plane contrails.
And then the moon disappeared behind Boot Spurr, along the edge of the Presidential range. And on our way through Pinkham Notch, we pulled over at the big windy corner, killed the engine and turned off the lights. And got out, and looked up. To more stars than can be imagined. To the milky way and beyond.
Too much beauty to be contained in life, let alone one blog post. Too much summer still to be drunk deep. More to come.