Pine Trees. Blueberries. Lobster. Stephen King. I was proudly born in Maine and lived there til I was five, at which point my parents moved us back to Canada, where they grew up. My maternal grandmother (‘Tanny’) still lives in a house right on the sea and so every summer I make the trip to visit her and to re-experience a little bit of that laid-back New England charm. This is the source of all my early sense memories – sand under my fingernails, damp slaps of little feet on the boardwalk, the squish of tart wild blackberries from the secret patch discovered by my dad.
But the place is stubborn – after nearly 30 years, those blackberries are still growing exactly where they used to be, and the boardwalk sounds the same even under an adult’s footfalls. As a visiting teenager, the whole place felt backwards, even mildly oppressive. “Thank God we moved away,” I’d say to my parents, “or I’d probably be ‘pah-king the cah’ at a friend’s house and doing whip-its in their basement every weekend.”
It’s different now, though. Being a little older, debatably a little wiser (or maybe just more nostalgic), and with a family of my own to share all those things that never really changed, that are actually pretty great. Clambering over barnacle-encrusted rocks, inhaling the scent of wild roses, bringing home pies from the Higgins Beach market. Sometimes it’s damn nice to exist, for a little while, in the realm of the absolute.
Speaking of absolutes, I think it’s fair to say that I absolutely must stop wearing my husband’s cast-off jean shorts in public.
This beach outside my Tanny’s place is the one that I spent all my time on as a little kid. Isn’t it beautiful?
We were lucky enough to have a week of seriously fabulous weather. In fact it was the first visit in memory where I packed a heavy sweater and never even had to pull it out of my suitcase.
We moved around a fair bit when I was little, and this is the first house I remember living in. We used to rent it from a couple who still own it to this day, and I got a sweet and generous hug from Mary when I ran into her on the beach last week.