Wind in the Pines

When I was growing up, my Mom and I would drive from Richmond, VA (where we lived), to Gilmanton Iron Works (GIW), NH, to spend the summer at the family cottage. Our first trip was in 1960 – the year we moved to Richmond in January – and our last was in 1969 – the year I graduated from high school. The trip initially took two days, but as the Interstate system was built, we eventually managed to do the entire trip in one (long) day, leaving Richmond about 10 AM and arriving in GIW around midnight.

It was always a jolt to get out of the car at the cottage. That very morning, we had left hot, muggy summer weather (we left very soon after the school year ended). By the time we arrived at the cottage, it was completely different. The air was cooler and crisper; the sky was darker; and the sounds were rural instead of suburban. I still remember getting out of the car and just standing for a few moments, drinking in the sigh of the wind in the pines, the uncountable bright stars in the dark sky, and the scent of the New Hampshire woods. And, often enough, shivering because I was dressed for hot, muggy Virginia and not cool, dry New Hampshire.

For many years, I called that cottage “home.” I first went there at age 6 months, and I spent every summer there except one (when I was in Europe for two months) until I went off to the Air Force in 1973. I’ve been away long enough that I no longer call it “home” – Arizona has taken that spot – but I still relish those memories.

And it’s a good thing, too, because they’ve been resurrected twice in the past year.

The first time was last June, when Wynne and I traveled from Tucson to Silver City, NM, for a conference. We got to our lodging well after dark, and when I got out of the truck … WHAM! The wind in the pines, the scent of the trees, the stars in the sky, and the MUCH cooler temperatures took me right back to GIW. We spent a great weekend in the cabin (well, some of the time was in the cabin – the rest was at the conference) and plan to go back someday, simply for the pleasure of the location.

The second time was tonight, and it was tonight’s tug on the memories that prompted me to write this. Once again, we left Tucson’s heat and drove through the afternoon to get to our lodging for the weekend. When we got to Pine, AZ (yes, there is a town called Pine – go look it up) and found our room, I was again pulled back to a late-May night in the 1960s, at the end of a 13-hour drive with Mom from VA to NH. The temperatures were similar, the stars are the same, and the scents and sounds are close enough. Additionally, the first thing we did was unload the truck and bring our clothes, food, and other weekend supplies into the room (just like Mom and I used to unpack the car and get the essentials into the cottage the night we arrived). It’s one of three in a small cabin with a wide front porch and some steps up from the gravel drive. There were so many similarities between tonight and that May night 50-odd years ago that it was easy to drift back in time and pretend, for only a moment or two, that I wasn’t in Arizona at all, but at a cottage on Crystal Lake in Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire.

I hope your childhood memories, or at least some of them, are as good as this one is for me.

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2 Comments on “Wind in the Pines

  1. About the closest childhood memory to that I have is of a resort my uncle has back in Minnesota, called Pine Haven. We’d occasionally come and visit, and while the distances traveled were not as vast and the temperature change not as pronounced, getting out or the car and smelling the breeze in the pines and on the river nearby has a similar memory. I haven’t been to the resort in years, but I understand time and neglect haven’t been kind to the old log cabins – perhaps it’s best to leave my memories as is.

    • I have to agree – I’ve been back to the cottage on occasion, and it’s just not the same. My brother built a permanent home on the property, which meant (due to zoning) that the cottage had to be “decommissioned” – made unlivable by shutting off the water or some such. Add to that the fact that the crowd I ran with has dispersed to the winds, and it’s not the same place at all. Some memories should not be updated.

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