Every year I post about our summer trip to my family’s cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. (One of my favorite posts on the subject can be found here). Each year we J-Ms make our annual pilgrimage to the cottage that has been in my family for 5 generations. I’ve written lots about our trips to the cottage — how they are an anchor in the rhythm of the J-Ms year, how much this place means to us, and the roots of the history. Summer cottages like this one are a rare and precious treasure passed down to the people who get to enjoy them. A tiny fraction of the population will ever experience what we get to live out at the cottage every summer. This profound form of privilege is not lost on me. We did nothing — absolutely nothing — to earn this. We do not deserve it. But we have it. What lessons will we learn from it? What will the next generation receive in the riches of all this? And how are things constant, yet evolving, all the time? We are so much not what the generation before us was. But we are not all that different either. How can we be intentional and purposeful about how we inherit all this and pass it forward? These are the things I think about as we speed over the surface of the crystal clear waters, with wind in our hair, and astounding landscapes all around us.
From the back of the boat I’m also usually spotting our young water-skiers, and snapping photos of them, and cheering them on as they fall and get back up again. I feel like that is sort of a metaphor for my life right now — as we speed along at incomprehensible speed and I try to capture these moments and encourage and uplift, all the while just hoping and praying that this next big wave won’t be a big one that knocks us over for good in some unpredictable way. And I can’t help but have other thoughts too (like, ‘how many black kids ever learn to waterski?’ and ‘how will the fact that we do this for a week — and see no other non-white people the entire time — impact our boys?’ and all sorts of other things like that). All of it is a lot. So much. And, like I said, we don’t deserve it. But it is ours. For now. And so I try to use it wisely, be humble and grateful, and be thoughtful in how we proceed.
This summer was special at the cottage. They always are. But here I want to record some of the really outstanding things that made this year’s time at the cottage most notable. For one thing, there was a whole day when we were all there. By all there, I mean — as my mom says, “the whole family” — my parents, us, my sister and her family, and Maria and her family. It was really, truly, a glorious thing.
Photo above: all of us out for ice cream at Bailey’s Bubble in Wolfboro. This pic is precious. So is the one below: Maria and Meera on the boat. For anyone who knows Braydon and me from way back, you can just imagine the emotions this evokes. How many weekends did we spend with Maria, at the cottage, on the boat at Winnipesaukee, when she was the age that M, K, and O are now?! It is just so crazy to think about. Here are our two girls — our ‘first’ girl, and our ‘last’ girl. To say “we love these two” just does not cut it.
This summer was Lukasz’s first trip to the cottage. My sister now has a family of four! A beautiful thing:
Here’s another beautiful thing– Kyle and Owen finally have a boy cousin! This photo just melts my heart:
And this summer, at the cottage, Braydon turned 42. Thanks to MorMor, Meera got to make him a cake:
And, perhaps the biggest milestone-marker of all from the cottage during Summer 2013… Kyle caught what was the biggest fish ever caught in the memory of recent generations! He caught a 22 inch largemouth bass right off the dock! This is really, really, really noteworthy!!!!!!!
Just for the record: we threw it back. We throw them all back. “We are Sports-Fishermen-And-Women” (I repeat this to the kids, over and over and over, as I put countless worms on hooks and spend endless hours untangling lines. Note: although I’m willing to deal with the catch-and-release of pulling hooks out of fishes, I am not yet willing to embark on the whole filleting and chopping process.)
It was, truly, a memorable annual summer trip to the cottage. Here are some of my favorite pics: