Thomas, Anna and I went home for the month of June to visit my family in upstate New York. First we flew into New Jersey, arriving at Newark airport after a long flight from Germany the last week of May. We spent a few days at my aunt’s house visiting with my aunt, uncle and cousins and going to the beach for a day of windswept fun in the sun, sand and chilly end of spring ocean waters. We built castles, collected shells and smooth rocks, and drew pictures in the sand with Anna. We even ventured into the waves a bit letting them crash against us up to our knees, lifting Anna up every time a large wave would overpower us getting us wet but not thoroughly soaked. I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures of us on the beach this summer so this one from two years ago will have to suffice but it looked pretty much the same as the last time we were there, minus the boots and heavy winter clothes of course. ;)
After leaving New Jersey we headed home to where I spent most of my childhood and young adult life in a quaint town in upstate New York. You can just barely see my dad’s house next to the barn hidden behind the bushes below. This is where I grew up and were I spend most if not all of my summers after I moved away to Rhode Island to go to college and then to teach.
I would always come home on as many weekends as I could when I was still attending the University of Rhode Island and then a bit less once I started teaching math at a community college not far from where I went to grad school but by the end of each scholastic year, in May, I always joyfully made the summer long retreat back to my hometown in New York spending as much time as I could with my family and friends and enjoying the lazy summer months of tending to my garden at my grandfather’s house and working a summer job at the town pool/recreation center for the summer.
Since I’ve been in Germany with my husband and daughter we only get to spend about 4-6 weeks at home with my family when I come to visit in the summer. It’s bittersweet for me since I miss the land, the wide open spaces and the pastoral countryside that holds such a large part of my heart while I am away but while I am there I try to enjoy all the things that I miss so much when I’m gone. This year I was able to put in a garden at my grandfathers house again. We started in late May tilling the soil by hand with an old shovel from my grandfather’s shed, hoeing and pulling out the weeds by hand and then sowing seeds and planting seedlings in the first week of June.
I used the grass clippings from after mowing the yard as mulch, raking up as much as I could to put around the plants and in-between to keep the weeds from coming up and to keep the moisture in the soil. I was busy watering, weeding and mulching the garden for a good part of the time that I was staying at my family’s home. Since my grandfather’s house in only about an 1/8th of a mile down the road from the house where I grew up and where I was staying I would walk there most mornings, before it got too hot to do anything, to work on the garden for about an hour or so every day.
Anna would happily come along with me to play in the large yard behind my grandfather’s garden looking for snails to play with and to build homes for, finding sticks and pine combs and an empty birds nest, eating the ripe currants off the currant bush and exploring the wet tall grass lined field that divides the property between my grandfather’s and my dad’s house.
This summer I planted onions, beans and beets from seed,
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumber, Swiss chard, two types of kale and basil plants from seedlings.
Then to relax Anna, my sister Jess, my niece Ava and I would cool off at the town pool and have an impromptu pic-nick lunch there or in the afternoons take a dip in my dad’s pool at the house. We often went out for ice cream with the girls and before Thomas had to leave we went to one of our all time favorite summer destinations, a gorge in a nearby town, where the ankle deep water flows through carving its way through the steep walled shale, periodically collecting into waterfalls and little swimming holes along the way.
We also spent quite a bit of time at my mom’s house playing with her animals: chickens, rabbits, cats and a very sweet, hound dog named Rags Tucker. I got the chance to sew a summer dress for myself and take yoga and exercise classes with my mom at her home and town studios. Anna loved jumping on the trampoline in my mom’s yard and swinging in the aerial yoga hammocks that hang in the spacious yoga studio at the back of my mom’s house.
We even went to Massachusetts for a few days to spend time with my mom, my sister and my brothers at a resort in the Berkshire mountains and my aunt and cousin on my mom’s side came to see us all there too!
— My Mom and Me
We had a lot of fun spending time with my family this summer and saying goodbye at the end of our trip was definitely the hardest part.