My New England Summer
An ode to my memories of summers in New England 🐚🌊🦞🌲
Last weekend, my family and I attended a wedding on the Cape. For those who don’t know, “on the Cape” is what they say once you’re on Cape Cod. Though the Cape is not exactly an island like Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket (except, figuratively, it feels very much so), as soon as you cross either of the infamous bridges, you’re out there…on the Cape.
Prior to this family trip, I’d never been to the Cape before. I didn’t know what to expect! And it’s not like I grew up that far from Cape Cod, but we had our own beaches in Connecticut, and if we ever ventured out-of-state for a summer beach vacation, we’d go to Rhode Island.
I left my home in Brooklyn at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning and drove the lengthy car ride from the New York borough (stopping twice for gas and bathroom breaks). I had my snacks (tamari crisps, dried mango), podcast (“Every Outfit”), and Hydro Flask full of water. At a quarter to one, I arrived at my destination. It was torrentially downpouring when I arrived at the hotel room my parents were staying at, a little inn by the beach. We were all giddy with excitement to be in a new place for a cousin’s wedding.
Outside, the rain continued, so my father grabbed the whole family sandwiches at a little deli in town. We picnicked on the hotel room floor, laying out towels to make it fun for my niece and nephew, who were soaking up the fun, rainy day indoors in a small room with the whole family packed in, dancing and playing games (Duck, Duck, Goose!).
When I unwrapped my sandwich, I was more than delighted to see that it had been packed between two slices of the softest marble rye on earth. Turkey, mayo, red onion, lettuce, and tomato. Everything was fresh—there was no sad lettuce. It was a big, perfect, hearty New England deli sandwich, a perfect refuel after a long day’s drive.
The memory of my family and me dancing around the hotel room, sandwiches in hand, potato chip bags open on the bed, as the rain fell outside…well, it’s one I will never forget.
Around 4 p.m., it stopped raining, and we headed outside. As the petrichor smell led way to the salty air of the ocean, I was immediately transported to my childhood summers, those trips to Rhode Island where everything smells of ocean air and shoes are not required to go into town. In fact, you’re barely wearing shoes the whole vacation. Calluses grow on your feet to protect your little toes from rocks and the heat, a badge of extra skin for your bravery and toughness.
On those summer trips to Rhode Island, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would rent a house for the whole family. We’d pile in, cousins all sharing a room. We’d camp out there for the week, and the house’s screen door would always be open, little ones running in and out from the deck, inside to the air conditioner-less house to get a handful of goldfish before running outside again.
The days were filled with the same rhythms and smells: beach; sunscreen; shell collecting; dips in the ocean; trips to the general store for taffy, ice cream; and nightly dinners at home, cooked by my father, who usually served up the local fare of lobster, corn on the cob, and a mozzarella and tomato pasta dish made by my mom. These epic meals were a family affair, every night, dinner together, a beautiful table set my grandmother: always a tablecloth, flowers, linen napkins.
The cousins, us kids, we had our own table - but we always ate what the adults ate. There was no “kids meal”. My parents were, and are, some of the best cooks in the family. (Though, we have a lot of talented cooks in my family!)