Every summer since I can remember, my family has spent time in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. My parents were both teachers and in the summer they would work in summer camps to get us all out of the city. When they retired they bought a little house there so they could enjoy the area whenever they wanted. They have a little pillow on their sofa that reads, “You never know how many friends you have until you have a house in the Berkshires." This statement rings true summer after summer when I plan my trip home and have to schedule seeing my parents around all of their friends visiting them.
From the first few months my daughter came into this world, I have brought her with me back East. My first flight alone with her was when she was seven weeks old, and I flew cross country to stay with my family. I go for about two weeks each summer, and my husband joins us for about a week. My son entered the picture and these summers are just part of what we do. Just like me, when I was a kid, we leave the city and land somewhere filled with mosquitos, fireflies, crickets, frogs, woods, and space. Lots and lots of space. I look forward to it all year, and when it is over, I feel such a sadness come over me.
Some days when we are there we go to museums, or shows at the local playhouse. We always go to Tanglewood at least once, which is a beautiful outdoor concert venue. You bring a picnic, lie on the grass and listen to gorgeous live music. Every few nights we go town for ice cream at the local shop, but most days we just go to the lake. We pack our bag, and stay all day. It has a sandy beach, and a designated swim area. There is a playground too, and plenty of kids for mine to play with. We bring nets, and in between swimming my kids like to try and catch the tadpoles. We swim out to the buoys and sometimes even past them. If it is a nice day, that is where you will find us. Year after year, summer after summer, I see the same faces, the same friends.
My friends that I grew up spending summers with in the Berkshires now have children too. Their little crew together with mine are quite a group. This summer all six of them did a little horseback riding day camp in the mornings for a week. It is wonderful to see how many new little people we've made that now get to appreciate summers outside the city. It is, like everything, also bittersweet. Each summer I spend with my parents, the less they are able to join in on the fun. The older and more tired they are. My parents had me pretty late, and I was also late to have my kids, and the obvious downside to that is that we have less time left to be together.
As the end of my trip gets nearer, I always get sad. I am of course sad to say goodbye to what is truly a relaxed, beautiful vacation. I am even sadder to think that there is a time limit with my family. It's too hard to even think too much about. On our very last day this summer, I took my kids to the lake late in the afternoon when very few people were there. I wanted to squeeze in one more swim. I wanted to say goodbye to the lake. I needed to get my fill to last me the year. I told my kids I was feeling sad about leaving, and wished I could have extended my ticket. My old-souled daughter responded by saying that if I did, I would only feel this way again next week. She is right, so we packed our bags and said our goodbyes. We plan on returning next year to the very same spot.