Summer’s End


This is about the weirdest summers on record here at the home that is no longer Apt. 11D.

Some of the weirdness came from the age of the boys. I’m no longer the swim club mom, the buyer of ice pops, the keeper of the pool badges. I never liked the swim club with the bored gossipers and the rubber strapped beach chairs that made red lines on the back of thighs. While I’m thrilled to let the swim club membership lapse, it took us a long time to find new rhythms.

I’ve been working more and finding new ways to organize the day to maximize efficiency.

We traveled quite a bit — Cleveland, upstate New York, and then the Jersey shore. Three trips in three months is a lot for us. The luggage bags are in a deflated heap in the upstairs hallway.

I just returned from Staples with Ian, checking items off his teacher’s bizarre school supply list. I bought some organizational supplies for myself. I’m clearly going need organizational help in another week. I agreed to work on too many school committees this fall. Not to mention the job. Which I’m not going to mention. No jynxing allowed.

We have one more week until school starts, and I’m trying to nurse this nice vacation feeling for another day or so. We rented a small house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. It’s a small strip of land that was nearly washed away in Hurricane Sandy a few years ago. The beach reconstruction is still going on, but the homes are mostly rebuilt. Some were rebuilt into million dollar monstrosities. My favorite are the old-fashioned Cape Cods that weren’t raised on stilts. Somehow you feel closer to the nature, when you don’t have to climb down a flight of stairs.

It took us a few days to get away from the cell phones and e-mail, but we did. Steve took his bike for long rides every morning. I went for runny-walks. Ian had important things to do on his cell phone. Jonah slept. Then we picked up some warm beach donuts or egg sandwiches. We spent a lot of time at the beach. My skin turned from light pink to a deep and majestic shade of maroon. As the week went on, we calmed down more and more. I walked into the town area every morning and bought a new $3 romance novel at the used book store. I found a fun series and was utterly shameless about the hours spent reading. I read five books.

A good beach is one that is remote. Quiet and uncluttered without strip malls and traffic. But it should still have some good food and a couple of t-shirt shops in walking or bike distance. My dream beach vacation would be in a small Scandinavian town with a dozen good books. A dozen well done, bad books might be even better.

10 thoughts on “Summer’s End

  1. I took Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons with me on bicycle tour through Brandenburg. And for when that was done, C.V. Wedgwood’s book on the Thirty Years War. Because cheerful. On the other hand, getting to the chapter on Gustavus Adolphus and thinking, “Hey, that’s where we were yesterday!”

    Not enough Baltic beach time at the end, but what can ya do.


  2. It is very near the end–just two more weeks. Our daughter went back to college for the last time this past weekend. I have read two and a half volumes of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” I have to at least finish Volume 3 (which will get us to the fall of the Western Empire) by Labor Day.


  3. Two Flavia de Luce mysteries while in New Hampshire was my treat. Also just finished the second of Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan books, about two women friends growing up in Italy – highly recommend them. (They are not light but are excellent reads.) That Thirty Years War book is in my Amazon cart.

    Classes started today, so probably no recreational reading for a while. The first day of school is always fun. Really, the fall semester is great until the grading starts.

    Is it “jynx”? I always thought “jinx.” Anyway, good luck!


  4. Jynx would be good, very good score at Scrabble. It may not have been ‘jynx’ before, but I want it to be now!


  5. Julia Quinn is one of my favourites. I have crammed a boatload of recreational reading into my summer, along with endless miles of dog-walking. I think the girls are both doing very well. Next week we move Eldest back to the big city for her third year and after Labour Day, Autistic Youngest starts her final year of high school. I’m grateful for the break all around.


  6. This is from a former homeschooling mother of a large family who ditched homeschooling some years ago:

    “Alas. We spent our summer swimming, watching X Files, sucking down gallons and gallons of ramen, eviscerating countless watermelons, making a meticulous survey of the entire lifework of the master cinematographer Chow Yun Fat, and creating various kinds of heartache for your long-suffering soul sister, the public librarian.

    “As a result, my kids are about 35% less educated, and maybe 36% more resistant to learning anything useful, than they were when you said goodbye in the spring. I made some feeble attempts to enrich them culturally, but then there was that episode where even Scully has to admit that that was no ordinary flukeworm. Brrr. Oh man!”


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