A little back story about the trip I made this week, file it under things you didn’t know about me. I was born in the late 60’s, my dad a Naval officer based out of Newport, RI, my mom a school teacher born and raised in Plymouth, MA. When I was eight months old my mom became pregnant with my sister. By the time she was born we had moved here, Duxbury, Massachusetts.
My grandparents were always travelling on cruises brought us back the coolest stuff like colorful embroidered shirts and marionettes. My grandpa used to tape dimes in my birthday card, a dime for every year. I loved those heavy envelopes. My grandparents used to send us a hug box filled with individually wrapped gifts at Christmas time, he always spoiled us and it was glorious! He also started the tradition of US Bonds for our birthdays, something my dad continued for my kids. I have such great memories and miss them both. I recently discovered a stack of cards from my grandpa and was surprised how funny he was. But when I look at this photo you can see that mischievousness in his smile. I’m sure that’s part of the same silliness gene my dad handed down. My grandmother died in 1983, I was only 13. The only thing I remember was her soft voice and wrinkled smile.
I remember thunderstorms that sounded like explosions.
and my stupid sled that would never stay flat.
I remember the parades, 4th of July was such a HUGE deal back east. HUGE.
Beaches has soft white sand and tall grass.
In 1974 when the price of heating oil became too high we moved to Southern California. I was a kindergartner. Every summer we would go back to visit our family and friends. One week on the shores of Cape Cod the other in Land’s End/Rockport where my family own a cottage built in 1927. We had enough neighbors, friends and cousins to stay in New England all summer and sometimes I wish we did.
Hand made bathing suits? check. Clams? check. Rope bracelets? check. Sunscreen?
One of the places we always went to was Garden Cottage, a prefab summer home that was constructed a few decades after the turn of century. Placed on a small parcel of land in Rockport as a place where extended family would stay when they visited my great-great-great grandfather Dr. Alfred Worcester whos home was just a few yards away.
The back of this photo reads: ‘It was they who built Garden Cottage for their nieces and nephews and their families. ‘ My dad said that “Uncle Alfred” always had candy in his desk just for them. You can still see the very top of their house from the backyard of Garden Cottage.
That’s corn in the foreground, there was a large garden just a few yards off the porch, giving it the name Garden Cottage. The Worcester’s home is the one on the right.
After graduation and our parents newly divorced, my sister and I got jobs, she with a popular advertising agency and I at Nordstrom. Within a year I met my other half, Dr. G. Soon after we stopped looking behind us and focused on a future together, somehow New England just wasn’t a part of that and I stopped visiting. Massachusetts brought my mother back for a brief time while she prepared to care for her second husband, a commercial pilot whose life was cut short after being diagnosed with brain cancer. By chance he was landing his aircraft at Boston when he had a seizure. My sister and I were able to spend time with them while they were unable to travel by air because of his health. Being stranded among old family and friends wasn’t the worst place to be.
My sister married and nine years later we both found ourselves pregnant with our second child. We decided in 2010 to show our kids a taste of New England and spent a week at the cottage. I never got around to blogging about that trip and Instagram was not around. Still I took a ton of photos (I had just bought my Mark II) some of which are still favorites after four years.
Fast forward to June this year, Week 26 to be exact. Kids just wrapped up the school year and we had nothing on the books. My husband had mentioned there was a course he wanted to take and it just happened to be in Maui. Sounded perfect to me, we took the kids to Maui back in 2012 and they loved it. Weeks went by and still nothing. Maui sounded too expensive anyway. An email came to me about the cottage, there were 2 weeks that had not been filled and would I want one of them? I replied, maybe. I thought about it and asked my husband, he suggested I just go by myself and take Super A. Not another separate vacation I muttered. They did that last year, that was the summer where I lost my son’s bearded dragon in the yard. I had to confess after picking them up at the airport that Chompers was gone. Thankfully as soon as my son went in the back yard and started talking Chompers poked his head out from the vine he had buried himself in. Thank God.
One morning a few weeks ago I sat with my coffee at the kitchen table and looked at my watch, I was supposed to get back to them about the condo today I thought. I just didn’t know if I should do the trip myself. My sister couldn’t go and my mom was supposed to be with my sister that week. I sipped my coffee and flipped through the pages of the July issue of Oprah. There it was. A picture of what looked like Garden Cottage.
I picked up my phone and emailed my cottage dates. The next day, plane tickets were purchased. I had no idea where the boys were going to end up but I knew one thing, I’m going to Rockport and anyone was welcome to join us!
Shortly after my mom decided she wanted to come up. She listed herself on a flight and on Friday the 1st she flipped over her drug store calendar and texted me this:
That the famous buoy house in Rockport Harbor called Motif #1. Hello Universe!
Jump back to Week 32 for the Boston pics.
We drove up Saturday morning, got a crash course in Massachusetts drivers. Holy H-E-double hockeysticks. New Englanders you really have the offensive driving thing down with your no-blinker, tailgating, brake riding, pass on the shoulder ways. Roundabouts? fughettaboutit. My husband would never make it here.
We turn off the highway as we drive through the salt marsh, my parched aging skin begins to rehydrate. I roll the windows down. Low tide. Roll windows back up. Everything is just the same just more green.
We pull open the creaky screen door and immediately were hit with the waft of cottage smell. That combination of wood, peeling insulation and who knows what. I feel like I’m revisiting my childhood. There are some new pots on the wall and the lightbulbs are now efficient. I see the clock has stopped and it looks like no one has touched the game shelf in ten years. We open all the latches and push out the windows. The yard is full of chick-a-dees and robins with droopy worms dangling from their mouths. Ava wants to go chase them.
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I love that first day, unpack clothes, put on bathing suit, run to Shaw’s for cheese, crackers and corn toasties. Swing by the package store, as my mom calls it, and buy your wine and beeyah. We drive around and head north towards downtown for an early dinner. We can’t find parking anywhere it occurs to me that I may have chosen to come here the busiest week out of the entire season. I’m so hungry I risk resident parking only.
We’re told for red tide reasons the lobsters aren’t more than a pound, my mom actually cried out when she heard that. We solve that problem and order three. Ava has her first taste and proclaims, too buttery. I sneak out and get couple captures of Motif #1. before ice cream. That’s a big thing here and by here I mean all of New England, everyone “goes for ice cream.” In California we go for yogurt.
The rest of the trip is much the same, blueberry pancakes, beach, lobster rolls, trips to the candy store, more lobster for dinner.
Every night I write about the days activities, tucking Polaroids in the back and taping little keepsakes to the page. I wish my mom could stay for the whole week. I’m inspired to document after reading an journal tucked into a dresser. The author writes a single sentence each day. This week was especially harsh, the author now blind in one eye from a vaccination worried his baby isn’t going to make it through the night. This has to be from the late 1800’s. I find myself completely absorbed in it.
Good Harbor Beach
Nothing is as soothing as baby waves and sand bars. What a concept for Super A, if you walk way out it actually gets shallower. She has a healthy fear of the ocean, mainly because our beaches have shorebreakers that will slam you face first into coarse sand. This is probably why you rarely see us at the beach except for sunset walks. I grew up on the beach so I find it mildly amusing that my kids object to getting sand anywhere above the feet.
I don’t think Super A has ever spent so much time just frolicking in sea water. This is Good Harbor beach where the waves are small and parking is nil.
My mom had an early flight home on Tuesday, so we got up at o’dark hundred to get her back to the city. I decided to make a day of it and head towards Cape Cod, at least I could get a taste of FarFars (THE BEST ICE CREAM YOU WILL EVER TASTE). We ended up in the cape so early that we decided to keep driving all the way to Hyannis, where the ferries leave for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. In the spirit of wanderlust we pulled up and asked when the next boat leaves, the attendant said you have perfect timing pull up here and the shuttle will take you to the terminal and you can grab the 9 o’clock boat. Before you know it we’re on a boat.
I loved visiting Nantucket, renting bikes to ride over to the seagrass lined beaches. We would watch surfers get pounded by the waves before heading back for blueberry pancakes and back-to-school shopping at Murray’s. I wore those pink and green plaid pants proudly in 8th grade.
Brant Point Lighthouse circa 1983, below my sister looking none to happy about the photo op.
I took a quick Polaroid of a pair of bikes that reminded me of me and Les.
This is the Nantucket Lightship, once a floating lighthouse, now travels up and down the New England coast. You can charter this floating hotel.
We stopped by two places on the way home very dear to me, Lobster Hut and FarFar’s Ice Cream. Two of the finest foods known to man, friend shrimp and handmade Danish Oreo Ice Cream. FarFar’s is owned by family friends which makes my visit even sweeter. I sat outside ice cream dripping down my arm as I listened to a young group of girls speculate on who was going to take the best selfie with their ice cream. I thought to myself how different things would have been if we had stayed.
Armed with nothing but flip flops and and a light jacket we went out in the torrential down pour, bought an umbrella, stopped at Roy Moore’s for a bowl, ran through the rain and ducked into a gift shop filled with puzzles. Came home and started sorting.
Meeting up with my good friend Lara, we bonded in 8th grade over our obsession for pink oxford shirts and Bermuda bags. We both wrote for the school newspaper and commiserated over unrequited love. We share the same handwriting and love for New England, so much so she moved here last year! How is it I got to see two of my very very closest friends in the same month? We had dinner in Gloucester and watched the fishing boats come in and out, it was such a beautiful evening.
This was crazy, we woke up and decided to drive to Maine at Lara’s recommendation. We pulled up top 10 beaches and chose Ogunquit, translated, “beautiful place by the sea”... sounded great but by the time we got there, found parking (that seems to be a theme this week), high tide was coming. No sooner had we found a place, the lifeguards were clearing people off the beach, something about 8-9 foot waves approaching. They weren’t kidding a few minutes later I was scrambling to grab cameras off the rocks and upwards to safety. People still went in, there were small children on untethered boogie boards, inflatable mattress, you name it, these people have no fear. Us Californians? We watched from the parking lot, inside our rental car.
Perkins Cove, ME
Time to just roam around, listen to the bugs and the birds, walk down the gravel path and just be.
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At night it was cards or games, no electronics.
Super Moon over Thatcher Island, at Loblolly Cove.
My husband and I traded pics throughout the week until we maxed out our data plan. They were having a good time ziplining and swimming with turtles. My son tested out his underwater case with near disastrous results, the phone dried out eventually. Super A really missed her dad.
We head back to Boston on Saturday to catch the 5:30 flight into Long Beach, I spy an familiar face on my flight, a coworker from a former life. I decide I’m too tired to flag him down for a reunion. I settle in to my middle seat and flip through the channels. There was no less than 5 of my favorite movies playing simultaneously, including The Switch and Blackfish. I think about the post that I haven’t finished about orcas, one day I will get that done I say to myself as I sip of my Ginger Ale. I peek across the isle, other people are watching Blackfish too. I’m sadened and angered all over again and start scribbling notes pushing up “finish BF post” towards he top of the list.
Smooth flight, we get in too late to go grab Weebee, she stayed at the animal hospital, she’s too old to leave with someone now. The other half of the family is sitting in an airport waiting to board their flight home.
I’m glad we will all be back together soon.