In 1965 my father had the good fortune, and wisdom, to buy a rather tired house a few hundred yards from the north shore of Dennis Massachusetts. It became our summer home, and is still in the family today.
Cape Cod 50 years ago was a far away place from my home town of Trumbull, Connecticut. It took 5 hours of driving, in a non air conditioned two-car caravan that left the driveway with a couple of cats, a dog, and more stuff under a tarp than anyone has ever successfully put on top of a '63 Ford Falcon. We would all jostle for the preferred seats. If you were fast, political, or lucky, you luxuriated in the "way back" of the station wagon where you could make faces at the cars behind you, stretch out, and keep out of mom's way. It could be a long drive.
Opening the Cape House at the beginning of the season usually happened in April, when the trees were still shivering from winter, and everything visible was a shade of brown. Yet when we arrived at our little house and opened the car door we would smell "summer"; an indescribable blend of sand, warming dirt, salt, ocean air, and last year's memories. We would pour out of the car and scatter across the twig strewn yard, corralling any animals we were careless enough to set free.
Entering our locked up cottage after a long winter's hibernation was a unique experience. Once the old Yale lock was turned, and the stiff back door shoved open, our senses were met with a mixture of nearly gone mothballs, deceased houseflies, and many decades old wall board. The house seemed dormant; hardly the vibrant and lively place we left the previous fall. But bit-by-bit, after the lights were turned on, the furnace fired up, and our things brought in, we had a home again.
Why am I sharing this? Perhaps it is because this winter was so damn long, and spring arrives at such a glacial pace in southern New England, that I feel the need to be reminded that the seasons really are changing. That despite evidence to the contrary; snow showers up north, and 35 degree mornings, the warm months really are on their way.
Our spring rituals help pass the time. We take the cover off the boat, rake the roadside sand off the lawn, check the gas grill tanks, and start planning our vacations. We watch the Master's, read the account of opening day at Fenway (even if we aren't crazy about baseball), and wash our car in the driveway for the first time since October.
For me, I head up to the Cape house, as a much older boy now, open that sticky back door and smell the mothballs. There isn't a green leaf in sight, but I know from doing this many times that summer is slowly creeping in. Meanwhile, we prepare.
Happy Spring everyone.