There is more to a person’s legacy than diamonds and pearls, although seeing those valued trinkets passed down the generations does warm my heart. My mother’s real legacy is her reminder to stand back up after one has fallen into tough years, and not with her words, but with her actions through all those tough years. It is easier to reminisce about carefree summers on the beach or raising a hopeful glass on New Year’s Eve than admit to harsher seasons, but recalling how my mother navigated with 4 teenagers plus 2 younger children, a husband who was intently searching for a way out of his own angst, all amidst the turbulent 1960’s, those years show what tough really looks like. We didn’t have an easy time of it. She most of all. Family photos reveal more about the unseen than anticipated. But never did she stop believing that we would make it through to a sunnier day.
The day after my mother passed I found myself searching for her. Perhaps this is normal. Perhaps even the first stage of grief. All I know is I could not get enough of her. Every dusty photo became a treasure I was seeing for the first time. Even braving the traffic from New Jersey through Manhattan, over the Brooklyn Bridge and past Prospect Park, to stand on these steps, the very ones my mother skipped up and down, the steps her many beaus walked, and finally through this doorway went my father. This home, 1510 on Albemarle Road, that housed my great-grand parents and their ten, then my grandparents and their eight, a house where I brought two of my own for visits. A place to celebrate Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Where my grandfather’s casket was brought and the house filled with condolences. The house my grandmother packed up and said goodbye to, and yet I found myself here, sensing the shadow of generations, of a mother who I miss.
Memories abound where my mother is concerned, but I do have a favorite. Although it is a singular experience, when we attended Alexander McQueen’s retrospective, “Savage Beauty,” that summer day in 2011 exemplifies noteworthy traits that my mother had in droves. Although the Metropolitan Museum of Art allowed its members to skip the monster line or attend on Monday’s, their “closed” day, just to be part of the fun, my mother (who was a member) and I, stood on the 2 hour line with the masses. This curated event of a hundred ensembles and seventy accessories was unprecedented and there was no way my mother would not be part of the crowded excitement; “By the time the exhibit closed, over 650,000 people had seen it, making it one of the most popular exhibits in the museum’s history, and its most popular fashion exhibit ever” (Savage Beauty Exhibition). #1: My mother loved a well-dressed party.
Adrift on whim I spiral here and there during the short summer in Vermont. On the luckiest of days I answer to no one, dismiss errands, and banish have-to’s completely. Apparently, according to several research studies, “The mere thought of pleasant alternatives made people concentrate less” (Konnikova). Beyond my morning ritual of brewing a cup of strong black tea, I set my day’s course as casual as possible. Hot afternoons are spent near a local lake, cooler evenings cruising along on the bike path. In my back field, among the hillside of green ferns, purple flowers grab my attention; I waste away an afternoon photographing countless budding lupines. My fascination over this wildflower originated from a children’s book, Miss Rumphius, which I read to my daughter over and over. Lupines produce offspring freely, and these grow to flower and make more lupines than you can count. Fields are quickly over-run with these colorful spikes and while the environmentalist might look at them as an invasion, I see the rainbow of lupines as pure joy!
Summer is the perfect season for spontaneity and there is no better place than Vermont to make spur of the minute side ventures happen. This week alone I’ve grilled (okay eaten but fully watched the grilling) corn and chicken, swam across the local lake multiple times, picked 6 more quarts of strawberries for jam, biked along my favorite recreation path with the ‘bitchin babes’, luncheoned with my dearest (and recently returned) snow-birds who form 1/2 of my writers’ group, enjoyed two outdoor concerts, first a full orchestra high up on the von Trapps’ mountain with fireworks popping during the overture, then dinner listening to my friends’ blues band while overlooking Lake Champlain, started stacking wood for the winter (well, not exactly fun, but having it delivered this week was pure luck!); I braved a plunge into the frigid river waterfall, ate ice cream more than once, drank plenty of pink wine (my new obsession this summer, although I do believe most grown-ups call it rosé) watched (from my bed) the sunrise and (from my deck) the sunset and thoroughly enjoyed every brilliant and warm second in between, and yet, haven’t sat down to write a word! I did manage to glance back through my blog, and found an apropos summer post from 2012. I truly hope you enjoy this golden oldie reposted below. Afterwards, please go outside and enjoy SUMMER too! xxoo
I’m on VACATION so….posting slipped my mind last night. HOWEVER, today, tomorrow, or whenever possible, I want to encourage you, dear reader, to make some fresh jam (it’s strawberry season in VT, so that’s what is cooking on our stove). Simply stated: Life is so much better with jam. So much, trust me! xxoo
Originally posted on Nine Cent Girl:
Despite a very wet June the strawberry crop at River Berry Farm was coming beautifully, although later than typical. In between the rain storms rolling through our valley I had a fortuitous and dry hour-long window to pick six quarts of ripe and wonderfully sweet strawberries.
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