Looking back, I can see that I was extremely lucky. My summers in Plymouth were darned near perfect. New England summers by and large have wonderful weather, a great time to be outside, doing whatever. My brother and I were free range kids, year round. Our playmates were spread over a mile or two, and we could be found anywhere, and unless we were at the Eel River Beach Club, Mom used to ring a large cow bell to summon us home for supper. I used my memories of this club to write about the scenes at the swim club in my first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair.
So let me tell you about where I lived. My family and I lived in a then 100 year old house with 14 rooms, three stories high, counting the gables for the third floor rooms – square and unyielding even to hurricane force winds. Its many windows reflected the sky and ocean. It sat across the road from the beach, and at night, you fell asleep to the sound of waves or the lonely fog horn on Gurnet lighthouse. The house still sits on roughly five acres of land, arranged in terraces leading up from Warren Avenue; while it has been on the top terrace for many years, there was evidence that the entire thing had been moved from the first terrace by the road, back in horse and buggy days. You can only imagine what that might have entailed.
The house has a porch which wraps all around it; at that time, the part off of our kitchen was screened in and we ate there almost every evening to the accompaniment of crickets and warm breezes.
What I plan to do with this series of posts is tell all y’all (as they say here in the south) a few stories about my summers.
Imagine warm, lazy days – Mom handing clothes out back in our drying yard to dry, bees and humming birds buzzing around the blossoms on the trumpet vines that covered the lattice work wall surrounding that space. Wind rustling the pine needles of the enormous tree in the back yard where perched our tree house (a platform two stories up, no ladder, you climbed), and in the two other tall pine trees, between which ran a 4×4 to hold my swing. My Dad had put the seat of the swing up high, so I could hang by my knees from the seat and swing with my hair brushing the ground. On the porch to one side of the house on the porch was a hammock, great for dreaming away an afternoon.
Summer chores were few: help with hanging out the clothes and taking them in, setting the table, dishes after supper, keeping my room in some order. The rest was just FUN!
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!