Sunday, August 28, 2011

Restoration and Maine

I'm sitting in our house listening to the after-effects of Hurricane Irene. She turned inland earlier, and we are now getting the windy side. The house sounds like a subway as the train is coming into the station. Earlier, we had an old maple come down next to the house, and when I say next to the house, I mean that it is touching the house. And it's a big tree. The kid woke up and wouldn't go back to bed for a while.

After a summer of relationship and PTSD hell, tons of transitions and personal learning, and a week of earthquakes and a hurricane that almost scuttled our trip up here, I am about ready for some respite. Some sense of moving forward. Cooking again. Talking about beer, literature, and whatever else seems cool again. New music. Time with the kid. New horizons, and maybe a trip or two this fall. Certainly, there is a puppy on the horizon, and that's as much of a new start as anyone could ask for.

In any case, Maine. I have a love-hate relationship with our history up here. As the youngest of eight grandchildren in an old New England family, warmth isn't exactly the first word I'd use when describing my memories of summers up here. Nonetheless, it's one of the places I know best and one of the places that has been most restorative at times in my life. Driving up from Boston yesterday after we had flown out just ahead of the hurricane, I spent a great deal of time remembering my visits here over the years — the food, the music, the beer, the company, the quiet moments, the joyful moments introducing the place to people. I remembered it in part because I had only ever been up here this late in the season once, 20 years ago, when I last experienced a hurricane.

More than that, the memories came at me because so much has happened this year, and because I am doing so much rebuilding. And this is a place that has allowed me those moments in the past. When we got here, I opened a Geary's Ale and watched my mother and the kid make crab cakes with the local peeky-toe crab meat. It's a delicate meat that has a softer, less buttery flavor than the backfin crab meat we get in Virginia. But in the past, taking over the preparation of the crab cakes and corn would have been my purview. This time, however, I was happy to sit back and watch grandmother and grand-daughter work as a team. Not only did it mean I got to relax after a long day, but it was a reminder that sometimes we can let other people do what they do well.

Even if I had an opinion about a touch of this or a touch of that in the crab cakes, the moment wasn't about control. It was perfect as is. And the food was perfect when we ate the corn, crab cakes, and local leaf lettuce (something we miss in VA right now) and tomato salad. Letting life be perfect and happy as-is (but with potential for greatness) is something I'm trying to remember as part of this rebuilding.