*Originally published on 8/28/2014*
When I hear the words "Summer Vacation" my mind immediately takes me back to the many years my parents took us to VT.
"Why can't we stay in New York?" six voices would whine as my mother drove our fully packed suburban to a little gray house in the country. For 2 months my siblings and I were taken away from our friends and forced to use our collective imaginations to pass the time.
Our tools were bikes, anything found in the woods, board games, books, and the minimal, yet continuously used Wiffle ball and bat.
Many 13 inning Wiffle Ball games and relay races took place on my neighbor's rectangular shaped property. Down at the lake, a cannonball competition was our typical closing ceremony to end a long day. Fortunately, we also had an aluminum row boat equipped with a small engine. Despite having a boating license, I rarely won it over from my brother, an early riser and dedicated fisherman.
Those summer days called for eggs and toast at breakfast, except the weekends when my mom made pancakes for my father who drove up after working Monday-Friday.
Then there was the coupon challenge that took place mid-week when we were running low on the food my parents bought the previous Saturday. My mother made a game out of saving money and we all used to go through the newspaper together, seeking out the best coupons and deals while sorting them into their respective piles... Dairy, vegetables, fruits, cereal, etc. Food shopping took 3 hours and 2 carts most of the time since there were so many mouths to be fed. Our appetites were big... Our family of Italian American athletes doesn't have the word "full" in our vocabulary.
I'll never forget my first cliff jumping experience at a hidden waterfall. What an adventure for a curious kid. My brothers discovered it after making friends with some local teens. We all biked there one morning and one by one we jumped into crystal clear waters that went 20+ feet deep. There was nothing that could cool us off better after an 8 mile journey to get there. Things are pretty widespread with minimal action in Vermont. I'm pretty sure my mother appreciated the company on these long bike rides, too.
Then there was the 4th of July celebrations. This holiday brought the most visitors to our tiny rural town. Our very wealthy neighbor across the lake used to host spectacular firework displays. I loved watching the colors paint the night skies and dress the still lake momentarily. The vivid colors, the sounds each of my sibling's made to express their amazement, my laughing parents... Each time I see the skies light up or hear my family members chuckle, a jolt of reminiscence travels through my bones.
Today I noticed the beginning of changing colors on leaves in the city. September is upon us and I'm okay with that.