Monday, 15 November 2010

Of sandy towels and memories

Originally posted on Multiply July 30 2009

The grandson is here for the whole summer, which is a perfect excuse for spending afternoons at one of the Arrow Lakes beaches.
The picture above was taken in early June before tourist season. It shows a place about 15 km South of here that we still call Legion Beach, because it started as a project by the local Legion in 1976. Legion Beach is now a major provincial park with a huge campground. To think that we used to go skinny dipping there...

This is where we go for serious days out with company, like the day with nephew Tim and his family, when we gathered there with a fleet of three vessels.

The rental canoe holds Tim, Marjel and the little sisters. This is the kids I nannied for in the fall. It was so much fun to have them camping on the lawn here. They loved everything, though at one point Shanna asked: "This is just your little summer home, right, auntie Ien?" She expected a Bearspaw -style mansion as a normal main residence. Sorry kiddo, this is it!

Anyway, back to the Hout fleet. Chris had heroically loaded our heavy Coleman canoe on the Subaru, and we enjoyed a paddle across the lake. We were barely back when it got seriously windy. All of a sudden the lake was covered in whitecaps.

Alex had a great time testing out Wessel, his gorgeous sleek kayak.
For more daily outings there is 'Town Beach', a mere block from the heart of the village. This is where grandson K. and I spend the hot afternoons after a sweaty morning in the garden. This picture was taken in June before tourist season.

K. is not much of an outdoor kid, but he sure loves the water. He now swims well enough to hang out on and near the Dock. This is great! It means no more pressure on me to come in when the water is cold. I can just relax without worrying that he is drowning somewhere. 
You know you are getting old when the zero gravity recliner on the shady lawn is just as appealing as a hot sunny beach. K. will be at his other grandparents tomorrow, and I shall opt for enjoying a book in the shade. But today and the previous 2 days we have done the beach thing.

Beach and summer vacation are almost synonymous in my mind.

The only part I don't like is coming home loaded with sandy towels, wet suits, the remainder of the picnic hamper and other assorted paraphernalia, and having to sort that all out while making dinner.

In retrospect I totally marvel at the competence with which my mother managed to do this without appearing flustered or cranky, in cramped surroundings, with 4 kids. Alas, the organization talent skips a generation. Or rather, it skipped me. My siblings are well endowed.
During my childhood the month of August was the reprieve from the third floor flat in Amsterdam. We spent the month in the seaside town of Noordwijk, where one of my aunts lived. I 'borrowed' these photos from Google and am truly sorry to have lost the credit.
Locals used to rent out a part of their home, or retreat to a tiny laneway building in the backyard and rent out the whole thing. We did the partial house thing the first 3 years. It was wonderful for us kids. A backyard to play in, and kids from the resident household to play with. I was blissfully unaware of the stress it must have caused my mother to have to share a small kitchen. Tasty meals appeared magically, as always.

Later my parents opted for the privacy of renting a laneway "summer house" instead. The summer houses were tiny. A kitchen along one wall, separated by a counter from the living space with a dining table, small couch and one semi-comfy chair. A ladder and trapdoor led to the sleeping loft. We stayed there with 4 kids, and all of us have the fondest memories of those vacations, rainy days and all.
I wish I had more pictures, but here are 2.
Above the whole family, probably 1956 or 1957. I remember those silly elasticized bathing suits. As Margaret Atwood once said, "I resurrect myself through my clothes." Or rather the memory of them. In those tight times getting a new piece of clothing was a major event. So I remember that the bathing suit was a weird dark yellow and the shorts in the later picture were blue. I was 15 in the second one.
In 1988 we took the kids to visit the Netherlands and spent one nice day on the beach. We played in the surf. I told them about my childhood vacations. Sighed my paradise-born daughter: "It must have been wonderful". It was.

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