September 2014

4 articles in September 2014

Iit was an odd summer. I am not sure anyone else shares this feeling but there seems to me to be a bit of a pall over our summer season last year, as if we have all been experiencing it through a kind of a haze. I have always found that the best way to get myself out of this kind of funk is to hike down to the beach, as soon as there’s a sunny day, unfold my old beach chair and set it down where the water meets the sand.

I find that a couple of hours of watching the world goes by helps restore my equilibrium. This time I went a step farther. I took a yellow legal pad so I could jot down my impressions. I should have taken a thicker pad! The people at the beach come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are able to develop a deep bronze tan that will cause them problems later in life while others turn a painful bright red that will cause them problems now – like keeping them from sleeping properly for the rest of their vacation.

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Wwhat a wonderful summer week. At least it is for people who don’t have to be anywhere except for a place on the ocean. Last Monday I arrived at my favorite part of the beach where the surf meets the sand.

It was an odd day because there was a cool thick fog directly on the beach. If you walked a half mile away from the water it became extremely hot and humid because there was no sign of any kind of a fog. Also since it was an early high tide I spent the day moving my chair so the ocean wouldn’t fall too far away from me. Thinking of absolutely nothing I discovered my dilapidated old beach chair had a remarkable capacity about it. It could look into the future. Or at least allow the sitter the ability to see where people were heading into their future.

I discovered this by simply opening my eyes. The fog must have helped because I watched people as though I was turning the pages of some novel. People popped in front of me seemingly from out of nowhere and because they had little sight of me played out what there future might be. At first I heard them. There were four young girls all giggling their way toward the water. If they walked ten feet to their right they would have stepped on me. At first I couldn’t understand what they were talking about but when they stepped into my part of the fog I could hear them clearly.

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Sseasons in northern New England never change gradually. One day it’s sunny and warm with people walking the beaches in shorts and t-shirts and then, within minutes, the winds of autumn turn the beach into one big sand-blower that threatens to scrape the hair right off your head.

These are the same winds that ruin fall by stripping the leaves from the trees and turning our tidy little world upside down. This happened to me the other day as I drove to work. The day before was warm and sunny, so, I wore a short-sleeved shirt and left my jacket at home. I guess I was hoping this would be the year summer would last forever. I guess I was wrong. As I walked into my garage I heard the wind howl; a sound I hadn’t heard since last March. It was a harbinger that we were in for some interesting weather and as soon as I left my garage I knew I was right. Backing out of the driveway was like backing into a giant wind tunnel that kept trying to push me back into the garage.

I swear the back end of my truck lifted into the air a couple of times. Until then I thought my truck was heavy enough that it would never leave the road. After veering onto the lawn and backward over my mailbox I knew I was wrong. Driving down the road was like driving through an inter-galactic battle-scene from an old “Star Wars” movie. My truck was swarmed by thousands of little red, yellow, and brown leaf-shaped star fighters that clogged my windshield, trying to block my vision and force me into the ditch. I did manage to stay out of the ditch but only at the cost of driving over my neighbor’s mailbox.

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Hhave you every noticed how good times from the past seem to be better than anything we do now? Especially as we get older. The other day my wife and I joined a group of friends who met at Foster’s Clam Bake in order to enjoy an old-fashioned New England-style dinner.

This, of course, included clam chowder, steamed clams, and mussels, lobster, corn in the husk, baked potatoes and blueberry cobbler. Everyone at our table loved the meal and the entertainment that went with it, which was an older gentleman singing old New England sea shanties. Or, at least, I think they were!

Looking around the large room, filled with long tables of people having a good time, I started to reminisce about a time in my past when going to a clambake took days to set up. My mind wandered back to a time when a clambake meant work for my father and, when I was old enough to hold a rake, the memory of a lifetime for me.

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