Saturday, September 08, 2007

Summer slips away

Saying goodbye to summer
Grand Bend, Ontario, September 2007

[Click all images to enlarge]

The day before the kids went back to school, we took them to the shores of Lake Huron for one last taste of summer before we all returned to the serious business of school, work and life. Instead of heading to the crowded public beach, we went to a place called the Pinery, a provincial park that's just down the road from the main town.

We drove through the woods for what seemed like forever until we got to the parking area. Then we hiked over a forested trail before arriving at the most peaceful beach imaginable. It was a perfectly sunny, hot day. But as we crested the hill and saw the water, cool winds blew over us, possibly as a signal that we really had left the real world behind, if only for a few hours.

I spent the afternoon trying to remember the little moments from this outing. I kept thinking that it would be a while before they would once again feel the warm sand between their toes. I wanted the day to mean something to them, to help them bridge the transition from a carefree time to one that promised to be a little more formal.

I pushed thoughts of gray, cold, snowy days aside as I watched our kids frolic in the surf, returning to us to recharge with the occasional drink or snack before heading back out. I hoped that when winter closed in on us, they'd look back to this snippet in time and feel warm inside. Memories can do that, I think.

After leaving their temporary mark on the perfectly sandy beach, it was time to pack up and go home. We opened the sunroof and slowly drove back out of the park along its tree-covered back roads. Little voices filtered over the music from the back of the minivan, chattering about the day that was and talking about when we might have another. In a while, we said. There's always next year.

In the back of my mind, I hoped that we'd get to have a lot of "next years", and that the time between now and then would move slowly so we could all enjoy experiences completely different from the one we had just had.

Warm and sunny or cold and snowy, I hope they always find something to smile about when they think back to a day we spent together. I hope we're doing enough to give them these moments for future reflection.

Your turn: A memorable day from your childhood. Please discuss what made it memorable in the first place.


awareness said...

A lovely vignette to embrace in the middle of February. We had a moment together as a family last weekend which I believe will remain with us as well....and it had to do with a beach as well.

My childhood memory? Guess what? One of them was located on a beach you just like how you described so wonderfully. I think I was probably the same age as your eldest son.....I am the oldest of three (all girls, my poor father :). We often visited good friends who had a place in Bayfield situated high up on a cliff over looking the shores of Lake summer days, lots of watermelon and water to cool us down and hardly a soul to share the beach with. Bayfield, before it was gentrified....holds fond memories for me and my sisters.

michele sent me over........floating on an air mattress to cool down and to say hi.

Sara said...

hello, Michele sent me...what a lovely post about your day at the beach...I hope that the days I spent with my daughter warm her heart when she has bad days.

I have lots of childhood memories - only a few are truly happy ones...but, I've learned to forgive and dwell only on the good times...

BreadBox said...

Beautiful photos -- treasure them, as I can see in your children the moment when they suddenly sprout, become adults, grown ups stretching for their own lives,... hold the moment in your eye and in your heart, and treasure it!

Michele sent me,

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I love most about your writing, is your uncanny ability to draw the reader in and make them feel as if they are right there experiencing the moment with you. I love the beach. And thankfully, my children love it as well and I am reminded of the many times we go there during the summer.

I do not think I could name one specific memory of my childhood that would fit the question you answer. We took family vacations, via the car, and thus I was able to see many states and visit so many different places of interest. I do remember, that while traveling, we would eat cereal out of paper bowls, with milk that my mom had stored in an ice chest. For lunch, we would stop at an appropriate place and have sandwiches, and all that went with them. I remember the cooler vividly (in fact it is in my garage). It was a red "Coca Cola" ice chest. The old, sturdy ones made of metal. They don't make them like that any more.

And at the end of our day, when it was time to search for a hotel, we alway had to find one with a swimming pool and my poor father who had been driving for most of the time would take us swimming. We always got to go out to dinner, and I remember we were allowed to have soda with our dinner!

I think, perhaps, I went overboard on my comments. I think I should have stuck to writing a post about it, which, in fact, I'll go do right now.

Thank you Carmi, for bringing me with you on a wonderful day, spent with your children, and filled with memories that will last them a life time.

Jonathon Morgan said...

I have so many found memories from afternoons spent playing on the beach. I'm sure your kids will have the same. Great photos!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post - I have such precious memories of my childhood summers. Enid Blyton twee had nothing on our adventures that we concocted mysteries in our inner minds and trapsed along to local woods to re-enact.

Michele sent me

mckay said...

thank you for sharing such a perfect day. my mom grew up by port huron and someday i hope to visit there.

come visit my blog where i'll share my childhood memory.


OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh I think you do give your kids lots and lots of memorable experiences Carmi....I LOVE these pictures, too! That place looks like a special gem of a beach...And I hope you get to go there next year, a lot!

You must cfome over and visit Carmi...I have a post about my brother and a lovely childhood memory...AND, DO scroll back to the BEAUTIFUL Flowers of the Bromeliad...A Fantastic plane with a very special bloom!

I look forward to speakingwith you, my dear!

Michele sent me over to you today!

Teena in Toronto said...

I got to the beach once this summer ... Sunnyside for an afternoon.

I had a crappy childhood so I'll pass on the "memorable" story.

BTW, Michele says hello :)

JC said...

Terrific post, Carmi... I couldn't begin to name just one or so special childhood memories. I'm the oldest of six and my folks did struggle to keep us in essentials and still did their best to make many occasions special.

BreadBox said...

I have seen a couple of people following up on this meme -- and I think that tomorrow I'm going to give it a try too...

Michele sent me to tell you...

Lara said...

beautiful beach pictures, carmi.

when i was younger, i was going to be in a school talent show, and i really wanted my dad to be there. but he said at the last minute that he couldn't come because he had to work. i guess my mom was pretty mad at him for backing out, and sad for me. i was understandably sad as well.

during my dance, she saw me dancing with a huge smile on my face, and afterwards she found out why. "daddy was here!" i said. "in the back - i saw him waving to me." i was so happy he found a way to come see me.

thanks for giving me a reason to remember that.

BreadBox said...

I sometimes wonder how many of my memories of childhood are remembered, and how accurately --- and how many are imagined from whole cloth. I have very few episodes that I remember: it is more like snapshots of time -- and I have little context for most of them to know whether they are real or not. Strange, memory.

Michele wouldn't ruminate like this, but she doesn't mind if the rest of us do!

Lori said...

I have so many beautiful memories from my childhood so it's hard to set one day apart. I remember lying outside on a blanket underneath the stars with my mother on our farm. I remember walking with her in the flower garden and swinging in the porch swing. And I remember every night how we would look out of our two story bedroom window as she flipped the yardlight that was across the driveway on and off three times. Her signal each night: "I - Love - You."

Lori said...

P.S. You remind me so much of my wonderful brother; a truly gentle man who adores his children and is passionate about his life. He lives far away from me in the state of Washington and I miss him so. Thanks for showing me (and everyone else) that there are still a few caring, sensitive and loving men in the world.

kenju said...

I had a similar day when I was about 8 years old, Carmi, on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. We were visiting my aunt and uncle, and several other relatives came for the day as well. I remember walking on the quay, wading in the lake and eating fried chicken, potato salad and watermelon, whille sitting on a quilt handmade by my grandmother. Such is the stuff that my childhood memories are made of, and they sustain me when the days are closing in.

I think your chilldren are so lucky to have you as their father. Not only are you aware of their every mood and nuance, you can write about it so eloquently.
Michele thinks that too, I'll bet.

Anonymous said...

Growing up I lived out in the country. Across from our farm was nothing but empty land with a thick forest of trees always waiting to be explored. And deep in this forest was the perfect toboggan hill. Come the weekend, my sister and I would grab our toboggans and trudge through the deep snow and fight thick brush to get to that perfect hill. We'd spend hours out there and sometimes even into the night. When we weren't tobogganing, we would lay in the snow and listen to nothing but the sound of our breath in that crisp air. Sometimes we'd laugh but most often we would just be silent, taking it all in. I'm sure it's why to this day I cherish silence...and the winter much. My sister is gone now, but those memories will be with me forever.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems that my cousin Jane and I always encountered when my grandparents took us on our annual camping trip was the rain. The Dog Days of July were always full of short, violent storms that would sneak up on playing children out of nowhere, ending volleyball tournaments or river rafting excursions, just when the laughter and fun were flowing freely.

My uncle noticed that we were particularly bummed about having to sit in my grandma's camping, playing cards, so he offered to take us to into the nearby town of Franklin, NC to look for raincoats. We got in his old, beat up Ford Ranger and headed to the Army/Navy Outlet, where they surprisingly had reversible pink and gray polka dotted raincoats!

Jane and I each got one, and we headed back to camp, ready to stay out in the rain playing, only now we'd really look like twins because our raincoats were identical. As we got back to camp, the storm was already clearing, and the rain was down to a gentle drizzle.

We wore our raincoats anyway... and somehow, when we learned that my grandma had just made a huge pan of airpopped popcorn, we stayed in the camper anyway, watching a rainbow form in the sky through the plastic window of the camper as we ate the light, warm snack and talked about Rodney, the boy we were both crushing on tha summer...

Anonymous said...

Carmi you are indeed giving those youngsters something to remember.

What a great family. You couldn't give them a better gift than the love you obviously have for all of your family.

-E said...

Since I've already commented on your most recent post, I figured Michele sent me back to comment on this one. It sounds like you and your family had a wonderful time and I hope you enjoy the next year too.

Anonymous said...

Aaaw you really have absolutely beautiful kids! They're going to have gorgeous pictures to look back on in the future too, thanks to their Dad. :)