“Do you like it here, would you ever want to come back,” H asks me laying on the bed while I look for my swimming suit in the suitcase. A breeze blows cool through the screen in the window moving the hem of my maternity dress. I look up at him and smile, “Yes, I want to come back.”
We’ve been married seven years and it’s my first trip to the family cottage in Ontario, Canada. A blue shuttered sprawl with her back to the Bonnechere Provincial Park. She faces lavender sky of golden sunsets on a lake of glass, tucked under pines. Her left arm paddles river of sunbathing turtles on limbs of drowned trees. Boats, oars, and life vests lay strewn across her sandy lap.
H embraces summer’s freedom with his grandparents here as a child, where they still call him Sandy, though his hair mottles gray now. The dark paneled walls, mismatched furniture and silverware collect family stories for sixty years.
When mice scurry between our feet, hide under furniture, I scream. His ninety-year old grandmother traps them on the kitchen counter looking for pie.
It’s twenty minutes to the nearest grocery store. They don’t stock natural peanut butter. However, they do sell warm sticky buns.
There is not cable television, internet access, or cell service.
These things, it’s why he asks me.
Every summer since becoming parents sixteen years ago, the cottage calls us back to join two generations. Two weeks of walks down a shady gravel road for an ice cream cone at the corner store. To forget what a mirror looks like and wonder why we bother packing more than swimsuits.
Because sometimes you have to let go of the clock and all her to-do lists of expectation, to remember who you are – in God’s time.
Madeline L’Engle says, “In kairos (God’s time) we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are constantly checking our watches for chronological time.”
We shake off should and have-to and weary shoulders transform Cinderella.
Harrison learns how to walk, paddle a canoe, chop wood with an axe, catch frogs and ride a bike during those weeks. While Murielle stands up on ski’s, pulls fish from a pond, gets her ears pierced and finds out a frozen juice box is better than a popsicle.
Two years ago, Murielle’s namesake, her Great Grandmother Muriel, teaches me how to make a pie. Because we follow directions for years but her pies always, taste better. Murielle decides to film it so we don’t miss a secret step.
We savor every succulent, blueberry spoonful of crusted sweetness washed down with decaf. Then watch stars fall in midnight sky by fire embers glowing like fireflies on still shores.
When grandmother goes to bed, we don’t realize it’s the last time we’ll break bread together, eat from the sweetness of her wise hands. She meets Jesus face to face during a sound sleep in her favorite place, after the satisfaction a good meal, seated around a table with the seed of her womb.
Her prayers linger now in the antique dishes in the china cabinet, on the plastic tablecloth around the picnic table in the gazebo, in the indented seat of the needlpoint chair next to the lamp.
And yes, I will go back again this summer. Because that place, its more than a vacation spot, it reminds me of who I am.
Do you have a special vacation spot or summer memory?