You know that feeling when you dive into a pool that’s meticulously managed to hover at the perfect temperature – I often think of the pools at country clubs, but it could be anywhere with a chemist as a pool boy. A temperature that makes you feel relaxed and enveloped and happy the instant you feel the water rush through your hair and down to your toes. That’s how the air in Portland has felt like for several days now, but without the feeling that you’re dripping wet and sweaty. I’d forgotten that summer weather could feel this good. It’s like a welcome home present from Oregon.
When you’re in Montana time is irrelevant, maybe because you’re surrounded by geologic formations like numbers on a clock of gargantuan scale. Or maybe because when you’re at the Rahr’s ranch there are no reminders of the technological age we live in and are hooked into like an IV line. There are no phones, wifi, radios or televisions to remind anyone of schedules, to-do lists or news cycles. Regardless it was the passing of time that permeated the weekend as old friends forged new memories and reminisced over old ones. The weekend was filled with milestones – Lee’s 40th birthday, which was why we had all migrated to Montana; twenty years of friendship between Lee and myself; and exactly thirteen years since my last visit to the ranch.
The ranch is heaven on earth. All that is important – friendships, good food and wine, family, and fresh air are all that is important. Life is whittled down to its essentials – so much so that one phrase kept repeating itself over and over in my mind – a line from one of my favorite books growing up – “the whole world stills to listen”. It does that at the ranch, where you can sense the earth wants to be as quiet as it can so that it can hear every whisper. It doesn’t want to miss a thing about this place or what happens here. I know because I feel the same way when I’m there. You want to heighten every sense so that you can drink it all in and never forget the smell of the air, the light of the sun, and the people you’re sharing this place with. I only wish the clock had ticked a little slower and we were all still sitting on the porch drinking cocktails.
I started going to summer camp when I was a wee child. It wasn’t that I didn’t love summers at home – what’s not to love about making forts in the back of the station wagon during long road trips, eating the best popsicles ever made, going to Sunriver, getting daisies painted on my toenails, and playing in the forest. But summer camp drew me in at an early age.
I think I was 7 when i first packed a suitcase and spent a week singing camp songs, sleeping in a cabin, eating in the lodge, making art, and roasting s’mores. It was the best! And each summer I made my way on the bus to camp, first at Namanu near Mt. Hood and then Westwind on the Oregon Coast. I spent my last summer at Westwind ten years later. Of course I wasn’t a camper by then, but a counselor which allowed me to soak up camp life all summer long. It was one of the best summers and a great way to end my tenure at camp.
I’ve always wanted to relive that experience and I did just that last weekend at Breitenbush. It’s like summer camp for adults with a lot of the things I associate with camp – beautiful hand crafted cabins, a gorgeous lodge with music and a library, bells to ring you into breakfast, lunch and dinner – and a few new perks – yoga classes, hot springs, and masseuses. Ivy, Beth and I were there with Tara to celebrate her upcoming marriage. But you can bet it won’t be the last time I make my way there. It looks like summer camp is back!
Kenny Chesney sings that song and I heard it loud and clear from all my friends before my first visit back to Beantown since moving away last summer. My trip began amidst a city wide celebration for the Celtics after they blew away the Lakers in the final game of the NBA Championships. It was there first title in over twenty years so you can imagine the how raucous the street parties were after the game. I couldn’t help but think… a party for me?! Ahhh, you shouldn’t have!
I flew into the city on a warm summer afternoon and met Amy Houghton at our old haunt – the Barking Crab – for lobster rolls and margaritas. We’d spent so many summer nights there my car just about drove itself. After we’d had our fill of the Crab we headed to Kaitlyn and Andrew’s pad in Back Bay because “Big sporting event+Laurie in Boston=watching the game with Kaitlyn and Andrew.” The ride there was no small event. Amy took us through a sea of Celtics fans making their way to the Garden for the start of the game.
With a start like that this trip was destined to be amazing. And by the next day it just got better when I woke up leisurely and then drove into Charlestown to have lunch with the other Amy – Amy McDermott. If I hadn’t been up late to watch the game and a little weary from the time difference it would have been great to arrive at my former office at the old appointed hour of 8:30 and gone up to my old desk in our 2nd floor office to catch up just like old times. That office was the place of more meaningful talks that any other single place in my life. Of course the fact that someone new is sitting at my old desk would have put a bit of crimp in this grand plan. Ah, but it didn’t matter where we were or how much time had passed since we last worked together at the Olmsted Center. Amy and I hit the ground running and had another great time talking and catching up. My only regret was that we couldn’t do it again the next day and the next day and the next day…
This was only the beginning and the wonderful ride continued throughout the week. There were still so many adventures yet to unfold… drinks out with the girls to celebrate Kaitlyn’s wedding; strawberry picking at a north shore farm with Lauri; banana pancakes at Paramount with Karen, Ian, Kaitlyn, Andrew and Amy; Lauri’s birthday celebration; a pre-funk party for Kaitlyn and Andrew, and of course the main event – their wedding (see other posting). All the things I’d missed since leaving Boston were packed into one wonderful week. A week that allowed me to relive one of the best summers I ever had – my last summer in Boston.
I came full circle on my last day. Two things remained on my list – a coffee run with Amy in Charlestown – just like we used to do every day at work, and to sink my toes into the sands of New England. So after Amy and I sauntered into Charlestown for our last cup I headed north to Singing Beach so I could soak in the sounds, smell and feel of the north shore. I don’t remember being overly impressed with New England beaches when I first moved to Connecticut, but I slowly grew to love them and now I carry them with me. Please Come to Boston he sang and I did. I’m so glad I did.