Photo a Week – The Great Outdoors

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: A Photo a Week Challenge – The Great Outdoors

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF NATURE.

 
For twenty years my young family and I packed up the station wagon to travel 90 minutes north for our annual week-long summer vacation…

…to the Great Outdoors.
A conference center/family camp on Lake Winnipesaukee. A fairly rustic setup, we roomed together in a small bedroom (until we outgrew it & also needed the room across the hall), ate together at a communal dining hall and spent the better part of every day playing together. The 2 of us. Then the 3 of us. Then the 4 of us.

No television. No phones. Long before the internet and cellular phones. No distractions.
And no cooking. No cleaning. No dishes to wash.

It was eat, sit, talk, explore, swim, dig in the sand, play cards, games, read, sing, sleep.
Repeat.

Lots of walking…especially through the woods surrounding us. Sometimes via the walking trails or sometimes blazing our own…collecting “natures” as in…leaves, acorns, pine cones, twigs, pebbles….

Several times each day we made the trek down the path to the lake…our feet crunching over the layer of finely crushed gravel. Breathing in the damp mossy air. Spotting little critters dashing through the brush on the forest floor. Looking up, squinting in the bright sun, trees standing high above our heads…branches spread as if protecting us, little and big alike. Slapping a few buzzing mosquitoes.

Eerily quiet. Peaceful.

When our children were small, the walking time depended on the amount of equipment we needed to bring with us. And how fast little feet could walk. Or needed to stop and rest from the weight of pails, shovels and sand toys. But it didn’t matter. We were in no hurry.

With just one 3 year old…it was only a swimming tube, towel and a chair for mom & dad.
A ten minute walk.

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Let’s go to the lake, oh daddy, let’s go to the lake

(35mm film)

Windows

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #30: Windows

It is interesting to note what it is you miss after it’s gone.
Not appreciating its significance while you had it.
As cliché as that may sound, it can still ring true.
Which brings me to the subject of windows.

Two years ago we moved from a house into a condo. I don’t miss much about the house…but one thing I do miss is the kitchen window. Over the sink…facing the backyard. Watching the sun as it hit the trees, the grass, the deck.

My hands deep in soapy water…cleaning dishes, washing pots. Rinsing vegetables for cooking. I was a loyal spectator to the changing seasons…which appeared with comforting regularity. From my window in the kitchen.

A robin would perch on the clothesline, pausing between flights. Squirrels and chipmunks raced across the deck railing…their own private balance beam.  Over the years the errant cat from next door would creep close, sit right below and stare at me, as if to say…what are you going to do about it lady? So what if I use your backyard as my litter box? I’d glare back, the window between us. This game continuing for years.

Winter brought icicles hanging down – eventually blocking and distorting the sight of blinding piles of snow beneath. Storms poured gallons of rain over the eaves past the sill. Hurricanes hurled wet leaves and twigs onto the glass and screen. Mother Nature everywhere. Putting on a show.

Warmer months showcased children throwing balls, making sand pies, swinging on the swings, climbing on the jungle gym. Eventually cutting grass and raking leaves. Opening the window swept in sounds of neighborhood life. The whine of distant lawnmowers. Splashing in a pool. Voices…young high pitched and older booming ones. Dogs barking. Car radio volume cranked, music a dull roar as it passed by. The faint hum of traffic down the hill. Smells of steaks on a grill. Next door neighbor burning brush. Every day a little different. Every hour just a bit changed from the one before.

That’s the thing about windows.
They give you a peek at your world. If you take a moment to notice. Not just quickly glance as you hurry by. But really look. Noticing the world outside. As young children do, with faces pressed against the glass taking note of…everything.

Sometimes the sight will stop you. And you put down the sponge. The pot. Turn off the water. Slip outside…maybe even sit on the back step and look around.
Listen.
Be grateful for this patch of earth.

One of the final things I did on that last October day – almost as an afterthought – was take a photo of my view out the kitchen window.
Through the screen, crooked shade and all.

It may be the only photo I ever took from that spot at the sink…following an intuitive hunch that it would be important to me.
Like I said, I took it for granted.

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Although we have plenty of windows in our over-55 condo, there is no window over the sink.
I miss it.
And sometimes the world I left behind there as well.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Gentle

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is: Gentle

Fifteen years ago we – my husband, daughter, son & I – attended a large family reunion in upstate New York. It included 18 of us – my parents, sisters, brother, spouses and all 7 cousins/grandchildren plus family friends. It was the first (and only) “away” reunion held at an all inclusive facility on Lake Teedysuskung in the Pocono Mountains. Reunions had been held at my parents’ or sister’s homes until that year.

My parents were the hosts (ie: paying for it) and were anxious for everyone to partake in all the activities…especially the 7 grandchildren.

Keeping everyone well fed, happy and engaged (ages ranging from almost 5 to 74) was no easy task.

As might be expected, there were some conflicts and misunderstandings along with the fun and camaraderie. Unbeknownst to all of us, it would be another 10 years before the 7 cousins were together again.

One image stands out in my memory from that special time together.
The lake.
The kids laughing and jumping off the dock.
Where we went swimming, boating…and watched the sun set one evening.

A slight breeze gently skimming the surface…
A welcome sight after a long…busy…active…drama-filled day.

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Homecoming 1964

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Homecoming

Homecoming

Prompt questions: Have you ever left home? Have you ever returned?

Answer: Yes and no.

I left home in my mind many times growing up. I had a small knapsack tucked in the back corner of my overfilled closet…containing what I must have considered necessities. Quarters. Tissues. Comb. Toothbrush. Underwear. Perhaps Bazooka bubble gum.
Since I never followed through on my plan, there was never any homecoming.

Coming home from summer camps, summer jobs, college…all happened without much fanfare. And my uneasy life would fall into place once again.

More joyous childhood homecomings were wrapped up with my grandparents, who I adored. One in particular took place in 1964.  My widowed great grandmother lived in Ohio and traveled to the East Coast to visit only a few times before she died in 1968. She was sweet and very soft spoken. Her skin…smooth and powdery. Fragile. She was my mother’s grandmother.

When she made the trip, it was a homecoming of sorts as she was able to spend time with her daughter (my grandmother) as well. We always made a very special occasion out of her visits. Celebration meals. Trips. And…lots of photographs.

The 4 generation pose was popular. My sisters, brother and I took turns sitting with my mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

I don’t remember if we were instructed in how to pose.

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Four generations – 1964

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Floor

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is: Floor

 

Days before the sale of our home in 2016
***
Looking from part of the living room into the den…

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This floor of plywood 1 ¼” thick – covered with a carpet…supported a family…
Standing. Sitting. Running. Jumping. Crawling. Sleeping. Rolling. Walking.
Witness for more than 36 years.

Sometimes it squeaked in mysterious places at certain times,
but it never wavered for…

An infant crawling for the first time. Never minding the spit-up.
A baby, lying quietly, carefully picking out carpet lint. Fiber by fiber.
Popping it into her tiny mouth.
A toddler sprawled out “reading” a board book. And then tossing it aside for the next one.

This floor held…
Three cousins lying face down, chins propped in hands, watching television.
A sister and brother doing somersaults. Watch me mom!
Monopoly games…bank money, hotels, houses and the boy in charge of the bank.
Father and son jumping so hard the walls rattled when the Red Sox won the series in 2004.

Birthday party marching bands parading up one side and down the other.
Jump shots and slam dunks in the Michael Jordan Shoot-the-Ball hoop on a stand. Until it broke.
A young girl’s entire dance interpretation of NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” including costume changes.

This floor remained sturdy when…
Standing for photos against the bifold doors: Easter. Halloween. Prom. Birthday. Group party pics. Or just because.
Teenagers collapsed in hysterics trying to master Twister.
Christmas trees were decorated.
Waiting for the gifts Santa would put beneath it.
No chimney required.

This floor supported a couch…chairs…coffee table…first hand-me-down…and then new.
Piecemeal furniture piled high with books, records, toys, magazines, framed photographs.
All steady and secure on this base for our home.

One might think a floor is just a floor.

But sometimes it isn’t.

 

Bologna Pie

Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Roast Beef
New Year’s Day = Bologna Pie….say what?

When I was a kid, my parents often hosted an Open House on New Year’s Day. Neighbors and friends streamed in and out all day long. Eating, drinking, laughing, talking, smoking.
Lots of drinking. Eggnog (2 pitchers: labeled “with” and “without”). Punch with fancy shaped ice floating in the center.
Conversations morphing into a dull roar.
Alongside music from my dad’s hi-fi.

My younger sister and I helped prepare the party food the day before…
…and that’s where the bologna pie comes in.
It was (and still is?) slices of bologna with cream cheese spread between each slice.
The higher the stack, the better. Cut into pie shaped wedges – hence the pie label. And there it was.
We always sampled the greasy concoction as we made the pies…and I hate to admit we really liked it.
How times change.

Loaves of miniature rye bread were transformed into chicken or tuna salad mini sandwiches. Sometimes toasted french bread topped with canned crab & cheese dip was on the menu.
Always delicious.

One memorable January 1st Open House was worth an entire diary entry:

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January 1, 1967

 

I have no photographs of these Open Houses.
Which is probably just as well.

Happy New Year!