We traveled East for family – to pay our respects to a cousin whose big heart gave out on him and to get acquainted with a new generation of family members. We honored family past and future.
Bookings were a challenge yet we managed to find a few places. The rather high prices must be written off as an investment in our mental health. This was our first trip that included air travel and mixing with strangers on a regular basis so we needed a safe retreat at the end of the day.
Michele found this Beach Cottage gem before all rooms were booked in the region. (Everyone was finally having the weddings that they postponed during COVID.) The architectural style is classic Cape Cod. Weathered wood shingles are mandatory to achieve the look. Our space in Scituate Mass was just a block from the working waterfront and a unique coffee/breakfast-lunch spot Lucky Finn’s. Beyond the one working dock was a vast fleet of pleasure craft moored in the harbor aligned with the ocean breeze like so many seagulls on a beach facing into the wind. Tanned, privileged children, schooled in yachting and teeing off the front nine, paraded or posed along Front Street. And tourists were also sampling the life, e.g. lobster rolls at $40. They were packed in the bars and restaurants as if there was no tomorrow. (With the delta variant drifting in the breeze, maybe that is the case for some anti-vaxxers.)
The memorial service for my cousin Peter brought back memories from when my brother and Peter and his brother, Jamie, were all at college together during the Vietnam war. Protests were erupting on campuses everywhere. As a senior in a New York high school, I had commuted to school on the IRT. Early mornings in the spring of 1968, I walked under the SDS protesters led by Mark Rudd who were hanging out of windows in an occupied Columbia University building. I clutched my book bag and diligently passed by to the subway, my steps in rhythm with the cadence of angry chants. At college the next year, my cousins occupied the Administration building and I was amazed. This is what direct action meant. Engaged in the protests, I took their examples to heart and eventually became a community organizer in Seattle. Power to the People!
Brilliant Peter mellowed with age after taking some challenging paths, and became a closet Buddhist striving to help countless people on the street and crippled by addiction. After the service, and leaving Peter’s house filled with all things eclectic, a woman with tattoos on both arms jumped out of a passing van and clutched my sister, and sobbed. My sister had been gifted Peter’s walking stick and the woman recognized it. She credited Peter with saving her life. Good on Ya, Mate!
A Lions Club Fair had taken over a section of the waterfront. Each night we were treated to fireworks, which we took to be a celebration of our break-out from COVID solitary confinement and a send off for Peter.
Our next refuge was to be the Willard Inn in Burlington Vermont. I had booked the only room for miles, and did not realize the one room available had a grand bay window and view of Lake Champlain. Breakfasts are included and they were extraordinary. Presented in baskets to take to the conservatory or your room, the selection provided over the week included French toast and pancakes with a variety of ingredients and toppings, and various egg and mash blends plus muffins/scones, fruit juice, fruit and fresh coffee. Granola was available but with these options, I had to go for something to pour Vermont Maple Syrup over.
For a little bite of French culture, we returned to Leunig’s Bistro on Church Street. This spot is just a block from City Hall where Bernie held office for a few years prior to heading to Washington, D.C. Waiters wore black vests and long white aprons. A nice touch for pseudo-authenticity. People promenade on the boulevard, as well as a few very well groomed golden retrievers. What else would you expect in New England?
Joining a niece and her family for an outdoor concert in Shelburne, I indulged in two ice cream orders from the Sisters of Anarchy food truck. This was bliss. Classic rock and roll was belted out across the soccer field by grey haired musicians. Besides the amps on stage, I wonder if they bring along defibrillators. As I sang along (sotto voce so as not to embarrass anyone) with the rockers , my grand niece climbed into my lap and just stared with her blue eyes at this living breathing anachronism.
Shelburne offers other attractions including the Shelburne Museum. This is not to be missed. So you might ask, what’s too see in some musty old buildings? Plenty.
In one building, an entire NYC apartment was transported and installed complete with wood paneling and impressionist paintings. Beside Monet and Degas, they have examples of work by Grandma Moses, Andrew Wyeth and wildlife artist Carl Rungius in another building. Now this was all taken in before walking around with our grand nieces…and they had other priorities.
Our last retreat was the One of a King B&B where I had stayed six years ago in order to attend the wedding of one niece. Only one night was available and that is a good thing, since prices had gone up since the last time.
The family reunion was much needed after so much time apart. We drove my sister to the airport in Lebanon. I was a bit reluctant since the last time she was in our rental car on another trip from Maine to Vermont, a deer grazed our fender and she screamed and blamed herself for not chanting a mantra that protects animals. Each to their own belief system.
We headed for Boston…where our plane caught on fire…in the luggage compartment while still waiting for boarding. Jet Blue found another plane within an hour (with better entertainment system) and we were off. I don’t drink on planes…but I watched three movies to distract myself.