Ah, the traditions of summer vacations. We have friends with a home on Cape Cod--no running water in the kitchen sink or the, um, throne room. But that's another story. The house had been passed down in the family for generations. Today, whenever their kids, now grown, bring a friend to the summer house for a visit, there are stops that the visitor needs to be introduced to. The places that represent a rite of the family's summer traditions--the hidden beach where the family built over-large sandcastles till the tide carried them away; the lake where they paddled a canoe at sunset.
We had no house passed down to us. Nor did we buy one. But starting when our children were very small, we drove to Vermont every summer for a two-week vacation. We would rent a two-bedroom apartment or, as our earning power increased, a townhouse near a ski resort. We would hike, play tennis, skip stones across mountain brooks, swim at the local swimming hole. Our kids learned to pick wild raspberries and eat them with breakfast. On Friday afternoons a farmer brought a huge plastic trash can full of just-picked corn to a spot near a gas station. We would buy a dozen. The taste was unlike the city corn we were used to.
When our kids hit their late teens and young adulthood, those trips to Vermont were put on hold. Our children had summer jobs, friends to visit and plans of their own. Instead of heading for summer in ski country, we the parents pivoted: We went on bicycling adventures abroad.
The trips to Vermont didn't start up again until our kids were parents themselves. We would rent a large townhouse--this time within a resort near Stowe and its summer delight of a 7-mile long bike path that ran from town, through forested glens and to the foot of the mountain. Our kids and their young families would join us for the week. Eventually our son rented his own place and made summer vacations in Vermont his family's own. We rented a unit near his but it was at a time of his family's convenience, not ours. After all, they led busier lives and had more moving parts to consider. When they were in Stowe they developed their own traditions--swimming in the rain, climbing the rocks at the nearby brook. We joined them at the swimming pool on sunny afternoons to watch our grandchildren do handstands in the water. Idyllic moments in the bright sun of Vermont.
Time moves on. Children grow up. Our son's two oldest children now have summer jobs, friends to visit and plans of their own. He managed to find a week when all three of his children could come up for part of the week in Vermont. The older children had little interest in splashing in the pool rain or shine. We were unable to join them.
Vermont family vacations are on hiatus again--certainly for us and possibly for our grown son as well He's at the point we were when he was a teenager and outgrowing the family Vermont trip. But the cycle will likely repeat in another decade or so. If there is a generation of great-grandkids to splash in the pool, we may fly up there for the pure pleasure of watching them.
painting: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, G. Seurat