It doesn’t really feel like summer until we trek to New Hampshire for the first time. This weekend, even though the weather was cool and rainy, our summer truly began: we arrived at the house Thursday night, and we ventured out only once—for a few groceries—over the next two and a half days. The girls were beyond excited to be back. Lucia remembered everything from last year, already listing her favorite things to do and play with as we drove from New Jersey; and though it’s unclear if Greta really remembered anything in any detail, she didn’t hold back for a second once we arrived. Both girls were happier over the last few days than we’ve seen them in ages. It’s a different kind of fun there: freer, simpler, more childishly joyful.
We all tramped around in our rain boots most of the time, since it rained off and on and the grass never really dried out. The girls were happiest when they were playing with water anyway: a puddle at the end of the drive—ankle deep—was thrilling for them; they came back from playing in it with soaked clothes, soaked hair. We found an old play kitchen in the barn and put out a pot of water, and they filled and emptied a few toy pots and pans and cups, cooking and brewing. We visited the pond a couple of times, and Lucia was inspired to fish for algae when she found a long stick: both girls were totally engrossed in their fishing, catching algae to entice “pond-maids” to come up for a snack. Andrew built a swing from an old board and some hooks and rope he found in the barn and hung it from the apple tree.
We took a nature walk in the damp woods. The girls ran madly through the bubbles from a new bubble machine. They played for a long time with the cornsilk from some corn they helped Andrew husk, arranging it into pillows. They got out all the old antique kitchen tools and played doctor. We read Jamberry and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Poppleton and Frog and Toad Are Friends.
It was all entirely blissful, not a bat to be found—until this afternoon, just before we left, when Andrew found a small one, still alive, pressed between the screen and storm window in Greta’s room when he took down the dark bedsheet we hang there to block the sun. We don’t know how long it was there, or if it will still be there when we return. Andrew is still scarred from our bat adventure from last year, and even a gently flitting moth, or my reaching over his shoulder to toss a Kleenex into the trash, startles him.
We were all sad to leave. But the summer is only just beginning.