The New England non-cation
Ours is a mixed marriage, a testament to peaceful (mostly) co-existence. Not in matters of religion or politics. We are both godless progressives, so no problems there.
But D is a New England boy born and raised, and therefore a congenital Red Sox/Patriots fan. It sends chills down my Mets-and-Jets-loving spine just to admit that the father of my child is so afflicted. I try to remember that he can’t help it, it’s simply a matter of geographic misfortune, not like some people I know who will remain nameless (McGee) who were born and raised in Brooklyn, but somehow are Patriot fans!
The biggest adjustment for me is to account for his New England work ethic. Being a hard worker is a wonderful quality, and I admire my husband for being able to hold down a full-time job and write books and articles in his “spare” time. I’d like to think I’m a pretty hard worker myself. But come vacation time, I like to turn it off. My idea of the perfect vacation is to find a beach, lay down on it, have someone ferry cocktails to me, occasionally take a dip, eat food someone else has prepared in a kitchen that someone else will clean, and then sleep in a bed someone else has made. It came as a shock to me that although my husband loves vacations too, his ideas of relaxation are a bit more structured than mine.
D’s family owns a charming cottage on Nantucket in a beautiful spot about 50 yards from the most gorgeous stretch of beach I’ve ever been on. I do love it there and I know how lucky we are that D’s parents were smart enough back in the day when real estate on Nantucket was relatively affordable to buy this little piece of heaven. When it was just the two of us, I could still manage to do the things I like to do on vacation (sleep) while D was able to do the things he likes to do on vacation (bike 18 miles round-trip every morning to get the paper, for fun).
D is also an amazing cook, as is his mom. She was born in Italy, and D’s grandmother once told him that she knew of someone who ate tomato sauce from a jar, and DIED. Needless to say, there is no jar sauce in D’s recipes; he makes everything from scratch. On vacation, D likes to plan our days to include playing tennis, shopping for farm fresh ingredients and ocean fresh fish at different markets, biking and maybe some other sports, playing music at night (he’s also a professional electric bass player), cooking a gourmet meal, and if time permits, reading on the beach with a little body surfing thrown in so he won’t look lazy.
We have had some awesome vacations there even though the water takes a little getting used to. At the risk of running afoul the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, I need to point out that the ocean temperature in New England in August is about the same as the ocean temperature in Florida in January. I am not a wimp. I grew up in the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania back before global warming turned the whole northern USA into a suburb of Miami, and I swim in a spring-fed lake there. I don’t think of myself as spoiled. But holy mother of pointy nipples, that freaking water in Nantucket is cold.
Last August we went on our first family vacation complete with my mom and Baby F. He was about 8 weeks old. Having my mom with us was a lifesaver. She loves to sit and rock him in her arms for hours and he loves to sleep in her arms.
My mother would remove my liver with her teeth if I revealed her age, but do the math. I’m in my early 50s, and she was considered a later-in-life mother in her day because she didn’t have children until her mid-thirties. She is sharp as a tack, but years of being a nurse have taken a toll on her back and feet.
To get my mother over the dune to the beach, she had to put her hands on my shoulders and shuffle along behind me, leaning on me. I was carrying the baby in a sling in front of me. With my one free arm, I was hauling a cooler bag of baby bottles and our lunch and beverages. I also had 2 beach chairs upside down on my head. I looked like a fat, Irish Sherpa. It took about 5 minutes of trudging in ankle-deep sand to get over the dune onto the beach where D had set up the baby’s beach tent, our beach umbrella, another beach chair, and a bag with all our towels in it. Of course, we were there for about 5 minutes before the loud ocean and the blowing sand had the baby crying hysterically, and we had to pick everything up and head back over the dune.
Fortunately, our friends Jim and Renee joined us later in the week. They came armed with sunflowers and a recipe for an “Amalfi Cocktail.” (I’ll post the recipe in the comments later.) They treated us by making dinner and cleaning up every night they were there. Renee has an eye for beauty. Here’s the table she set.
The whole vacation would have been a disaster if not for Renee, Jim, and my mom. Even the weather gave us grief. We had to cut our time a few days short because Hurricane Irene was making a beeline towards Nantucket.
We have much higher hopes this year, now that F is almost walking, a seasoned traveler, and basically sleeping through the night.
Next time: My perfect summer ends and it’s back to work
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