Let me take you back.

It’s odd how a random sensation can evoke old memories.

As y’all know, I’ve been helping Eve and Rick remodel, renovate, and upgrade their kitchen for the past week or so. Today Eve and I had to make a parts run to Lowe’s. It was a gorgeous day for a drive: the sun was out, but there were fluffy clouds in the sky; the breeze was blowing but the temperature was moderate; and the scent of someone else’s newly-mown grass was everywhere. I was enjoying a day of bearable July temperatures (as opposed to the oven where I live) and just letting my mind wander.

It chose to take me back to when I was growing up, and the summers I spent in New Hampshire at the family cottage. The place was built in the late 1800s (1880? 1890? Somewhere in there) and has been in our family since 1911. Because of its age and the fact that it was built as a hunting camp, it *always* needed work. Every summer there was at least one major project to be done.

Today’s weather reminded me of the beautiful summer days at the cottage. We’d usually work in the mornings and play in the afternoons (everyone – not just the kids, although the games and activities were different according to age group). I loved the sound of wind in the pine trees and the sight of sailboats on the lake. If the lake was calm, or even remotely quiet, someone would be out water-skiing. In the afternoons, that someone was likely to be one of us.

I remember my dad spending his days out in the barn – a single-car garage, really, with a small loft over it where my brother and I slept – working at whatever needed to be done. If the weather was good, the barn door would be open and we’d all wander in and out, helping where we could, getting in the way otherwise. If the weather was bad, the door would be mostly closed to keep the rain out and we’d run from the cottage to the barn so we wouldn’t get too wet. Wet woods have a delicious scent, too.

I remember my uncle, aunt and cousins arriving from the Boston area every Friday night and leaving Sunday night. My grandmother was there all summer, as were my Mom and I; Dad was able to come up from Virginia for 5 weeks every year.

Some of the projects we tackled over the years included rewiring the place to make it safer and more reliable; jacking it up (it sits on brick and concrete-block piers that settle over time) to level it; repainting it (more than once); replacing the roof shingles; remodeling the kitchen (with a sink that my Dad brought up from our home in Virginia); adding a Heatilator to the fireplace to help it warm the cottage better; replacing the front-porch screens; replacing the front- and back-porch stairs (more than once); and of course the endless tree-trimming and pruning.

Summer was always too short, but we made the best use of the time that we could.

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