We spent last weekend with our friend B at B's family's house on Martha's Vineyard. B gets a couple of weeks each year at the house, and for years, A and I used to go. But then R came along, and it just didn't seem like he was old enough to go until this year. B's family's house is not one of those giant compound/mansions that the Vineyard is known for. It's very rustic. It's really more like luxurious camping. It's wonderful - a couple of cabins sitting on top of a marsh and overlooking the ocean. I've always loved it there, but I forgot just how much until this past weekend.
R fell in love with it, too. He had the most amazing time. It was the quintessential boy's summer experience: he rode a ferry, he hiked, he canoed, he fished, he climbed trees, he carried firewood, he used a hammock as a spaceship, he peed in a brook (the men have to do that so the septic system doesn't get overloaded - luckily for me, the women get to use the bathroom!), he collected shells, he slept in the top bunk, he showered outside. Most of all, though, he had freedom, and he was surrounded by nature.
The epitome of the weekend was when we let R stay up late and told him we had a surprise. B grabbed flashlights, we tiptoed in the dark through the wooded path down to the nearby dock (where Jaws was filmed!), and we shone the lights into the water to see giant fish, crabs, horseshoe crabs, and other sea life. I think B is R's new hero. :-) We watched the fishermen board their boats and head out for their nightly catch.
Of course, we also headed into town during the day and took rides on the old-fashioned Flying Horses carousel to try to grab the coveted brass ring and win a free ride. We ate lunch at a little seafood joint with the most incredible coconut shrimp, made to order. We had old-fashioned ice cream at Mad Martha's.
It was very hard to leave the island.
Being on the Vineyard made me realize that life there is the life I've always dreamed of for myself. I even love the stereotypical house style - with the weathered gray shingles, white trim, etc. - and accompanying flowering gardens. It's the look I've always wanted for my own house. The quiet, easy-going feeling, the friendliness of everyone you meet, the nearness of the ocean, and the constant humidity in the air (despite its effect on my hair) - all of that is part of the experience, and I would love to be able to live there year-round someday.
But R's reaction to the island and to the back-to-basics life at B's house made me want all of this for him, too. I would love for him to spend his summers in a place like this, where he could explore the woods and the ocean and have this sense of freedom that is lacking when growing up in a major metropolitan area.
I don't think R will ever forget this weekend. Hopefully, we'll be able to take him to B's family's house a few more times before B's dad finds a buyer for the house. :-(
I'm going to start saving money wherever I can so that maybe when I'm 85 I can afford a little cottage on the island that I can pass down to R and his children. In the meantime, I'm going to look for ways to give R that freedom and experience with nature closer to home. (We've already promised him a fishing rod and tackle box as a present for his graduation from preschool.)
If you're ever up New England way, definitely spend a weekend on Martha's Vineyard! It's amazing.