Happy New Year! Toot! Toot!

Thanks so much for hanging in there with me.  I know it’s been a while since I posted last, but I HAVE been writing. And recovering from being burgled, and from having a serious illness, and from moving.  I think the last was actually the hardest…  Anyway, I am so pleased you’re still with me, still reading this little blog, and sharing your own thoughts with me.  Much more is to come…

I am a child of the school  year.  Oh, it’s been a while since I prowled school hallways as either student or teacher, but I still think of Labour Day as New Year’s Day, a time for resolutions and new beginnings and all in better weather.  In January, that other New Year’s Day, is just a bonus day off to me… sometimes, with leftover champagne!

Labour Day weekend means returning from the cottage and spending Monday night sorting through clothes to find something clean and relatively unembarrassing to wear as the new school year begins.  Labour Day weekend means one long last blast in the lake, swimming and boating and maybe catching a fish or two to be eaten with the last of the summer peaches, the last of the summer tomatoes.  Labour Day weekend means one last bonfire on the beach, with one more roasted hot dog and three more burnt marshmallows and one more chance to bundle up in an old cotton sweater while bare feet stretch toward the glowing embers.  Labour Day weekend means saying good-bye for another year to my “summer cousins”, some of whom are actually cousins, some of whom are their cousins, and some are just friends of such long familiarity they ought to be cousins.

Labour Day weekend means my mother hollering at us to get out of the water, out of our bathing suits, to put our clothes and sandy towels in the big green garbage bags.  Labour Day weekend means the dog running around, trying to catch a seagull and failing as she has every other day of the summer.  Labour Day weekend means my father sitting on the deck reading the newspaper begging for a little less confusion.  Labour Day weekend means the end of running on golden beaches, catching frogs and fireflies, watching falling stars, scratching mosquito bites, sand in our clothes, and total freedom to be, just to be.

My brothers Michael and Max, their wonderful wives Rita and Gretchen (respectively) and their three children each, have side-by-side cottages on the same beach where we spent our childhoods.  For the boys, who for much longer than I did, having two working parents meant summers that were different from my own.  For them, there was more time spent in day and summer camps, more time working than I did.  But still, they are trying to give that same glow of sunshine and water and freedom that we knew and loved.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t had that cottage experience, those lazy summers that carried me from school year to school year, that gave me unstructured time with my grandparents and an angel food cake every August for my birthday, that taught me how to play Red Rover and baseball, that gave me hours in the water and time on my too-big bike, that gave me… childhood.

When I think of one year ending and another year beginning, I don’t think of December and January, I think of the first Monday in September.  I think about making resolutions to study hard and read more books and try not to argue with my brothers and sister (any more than was absolutely necessary).  I think about giving up sand for pavement, sunshine for indoor air, fresh caught fish for tuna salad sandwiches.  I think about exchanging a magic place for a place of work, but both places still filled with family and friends, and the promise of what every New Year brings, new plans and new hope for what lies ahead.

So… Happy New Year!



4 thoughts on “Happy New Year! Toot! Toot!

  1. How scary is it, Big Sis, that I had those very same thoughts as we drove home from our British Columbia lake paradise just yesterday…. The memories of the Labour Day ‘finality’ of what summer was and the reality of colder nights, shorter days and the ‘real world.’ Trying to tell SJ about Staines Island, that wasn’t an island at all, shore dinners, raiding old abandoned cottages & mom finding that special captain’s chair, the carp coming in to spawn, pedaling those stupid huge monsterously heavy bike’s to the Oliphant Cafe for a BLT – imagine sending young kids that far all by themselves on a mostly deserted 1 1/2 lane road – sleepovers at Grandma’s; the best moth killer ever, and, and, and…………. everything.
    I should write a book! “memoirs of soft summers” by Vicky VCR (dad would’ve loved it)
    I love that I grew up believing that EVERYONE went to the cottage for the entire summer and was sad when I realized that wasn’t true. I’m thankful that we had that rare kind of golden summer childhood.
    There hasn’t been a summer in my entire adult life where I haven’t spent some time daydreaming of time past and the sadness that comes knowing it can never be recaptured….
    Thanks Mom & Dad, Poppy’s and Grandma’s………

    • Yeah… every summer day should be spent at the cottage. Bats in the eaves and snakes in the underwear drawer notwithstanding, it really was a golden way to spend childhood…

  2. Never had a cottage – but lived in a “beach” town……I feel the same way about the first Monday in September too! Thank you for sharing! Miss you! Happy New Year to you!

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