8/1: Deep Summertime


Competing only, perhaps, with December, does any other month’s name conjure up such memories?  It’s officially deep into summertime out there, with sweltering heat, flash thunderstorms (that aren’t good for the dog), delicious corn and tomatoes and sweaty clothes and no one wanting to do any work, ever.  It’s the heart of summer-summer-summertime.

Of course for me, for man,y many years (too many to be counted here), August has meant The Island, as in Nantucket.  Short of one summer I spent before senior year of college performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it’s meant waiting for the countdown to begin, the anxious, stress-inducing pack-up (“No, we don’t need to bring the DVD player!  Yes, they have a lobster pot!”); the schlep up I-95; the nights spent bunking over at the beautiful, glamorous Cascade Motor Lodge in Hyannis, with dogs, dogs, dogs; the early morning three hour auto-ferry ride to a place we know so well:  The houses on Brant Point, coming into view as the ferry chugs into the sound.  It’s indelibly burned into my memory, and is summed up by one word:  August.

(Those once-a-year nights in Hyannis should have their own category:  Consecutive dinners with my sister at various restaurants (don’t ask), or the night out with Cousin Dave and Captain Morgan, and having good ol’ Dave join us back at the motel a couple of hours before the ferry was to leave._

When we were kiddos, my mother (always the practical saint) packed surprise backpacks for us, stuffed with cool new things to occupy us on the eight hour drive (long as an adult, forever as a kid).  We weren’t permitted to open ’em until one particular spot, and then all the yammering ceased.  Two folks figure prominently into those early ACK years:  My neighbor Bud, an old friend who wound accompany us up like a long-lost brother (or a lost boy from Peter Pan), and our ‘Cousin Dave,’ who would fly out from Arizona for a week or so and become, in our eyes, a superstar.

There’s a house, way out Madaket, that used to bear the quarterboard and name, ‘August.’  I couldn’t think of a better name for a summer home on the Island.  (It’s also, incidentally, the name of the bar in Richard Ford’s terrific Frank Bascombe trilogy.)

This post– on a cloudy August 1st– could be quite long.  I could write about the summer our Jamaican housekeeper Bev came up, and ate the freshly-gutted bluefish out at Great Point; about the two families who came up to the Island with us, and who figured so prominently into our own mythology; and, of course, simply about the Island itself.

And I shall.  This summer’s running a little late.  There’s a play to be presented, life to be both enjoyed and endured.  But it’s deep summer out there, and soon the foggy, saltwater smell of the Island in the air.



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