My grandfather on my mother’s side always said summer was finished once the Royal St. John’s Regatta was over. My mother repeats his saying ever year, reminding me how there is suddenly “a change in the air”. “You can smell the change. Fall. My father was always right about that one,” she’ll say.
Well, as mothers often are, no doubt mine will be right again this year and the remaining weeks of summer will be a little different.
Moms and dads of school age children will soon begin the yearly ritual that is back-to-school shopping. My son is heading into grade 11 this year. He has a job and earns his own coin, so besides picking up a few exercise books, a pack or two of mechanical pencils, and handing over of bit of cash to make a small contribution to some wardrobe additions, a backpack, and a pair of sneakers, there’s not much he’ll need from hubby and I this year.
My daughter is another story. She will be starting kindergarten, and while I had visions of bonding over shopping for back-to-school clothes, I went the practical (read easy) route and did it myself, piece meal, over the past few weeks. I think I did ok, though she isn’t sold on the backpack I picked out. She wanted Barbie, and I was “so last year” and went with Hello Kitty. I’m not buckling, though there are signs her dad might, if he hasn’t already on the sly. We’ll see soon enough.
But summer isn’t quite over yet, at least not on the calendar, and I’m determined to get out around the bay a few more times before the September long weekend. Hubby and I have decided that, this year, we’ll be closing up our outport house for the winter once the Labour Day weekend is over. With that in mind, I’m always looking for that next, maybe last- for this year anyway- excursion around the bay.
Shutting her down makes sense. Keeping the phone, internet and cable hooked up year-round is getting expensive and for the scatter weekend and few days over Christmas we’re able to get out there, it really isn’t worth it. Again, like the back-to-school shopping, we’re trying to be practical.
So, why is making that call to cancel services so damn hard? Maybe it’s because our old outport home has been so good to us this summer. Two of my son’s closest friends may have graduated last spring, but both lucked into summer jobs in the community, so visiting for him means hanging out and last kick-at-the-childhood-can good times.
And my daughter is finally old enough to squeeze every bit of good there is to be had out of our outport. She’s enjoying the freedom that hooked us in the first place; running the roads, eating at the home of anyone offering food, (she discovered the magic that is Vienna Sausages the last time we were there thanks to one friend’s grandma) coming home for brief pit stops throughout the day- usually for money to spend on Popsicles at poppy’s shop- coming in at dusk, exhausted but happy. A few nights into one recent trip out home I caught my daughter gazing intently into the bathroom mirror. “Just look at my face”, she said. I looked. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, and said as much. “My face. It looks so happy in mirrors in this house”,?she replied. I took another look, and my smiling image joined hers. She was right.
But come September things will change. The kids who were visiting nan and pop or aunt and uncle, or enjoying some time with extended family in summer homes, will head back to their real lives. The roads will once again be silent. No more delighted squeals and hollers will echo through the playground. Plus, two of my son’s close friends will be heading out of the bay for schooling. And while my son will have his drivers license- and the freedom that comes with it- come March, he won’t find it much fun visiting the harbour if his friends are gone.
And dad is closing the shop, and that social hub of activity will be greatly missed. Or he says he’s closing it. Like that phone call I haven’t yet made to cancel those communication services, he’s also dragging his feet. I get it. As far too many before us have felt, it’s hard saying good-bye to a sea-side saltbox home, even if only for a few months.
But it has to be done. Though… I guess there’s no harm in keeping things hooked up till the end of September. If the weather is good, we might get out on the water again for the fall cod fishery. And then there’s Thanksgiving. And Halloween is on a Thursday this year. Maybe we could make a long weekend out of it? And then Christmas is really just around the corner. Followed by Easter, and the Victoria Day weekend.
Reminds me of another saying of my mother’s that also came from her father; “a fool and their money are soon parted.”
But then fools often have wide ear-to-ear smiles. Like the ones to be found in mirrors at our outport home.