Family on the Fly

If I fold the third row of seats down (which was a complete waste of money as an option because no one will sit there anyway) an extra-large dog bed can fit in the back of my car.  And if I curl up tight enough, I can fit on the extra-large dog bed.  And if I am tired enough, I can nap. Anywhere. I tested this theory last fall at Schoodic Point.

Despite the fact it was the middle of the day and Schoodic was rather lively despite the lousy weather, I drifted off and woke up needing to wipe the drool from my chin.  But I didn't unfurl right away.  I listened to the passers-by and even overheard someone admire the interior color scheme of my car which I thought odd. I'm sure they would have thought it odder still knowing the owner overheard the compliment as she lay on a dog bed in the rear.

If you time it right, Schoodic is church on Sunday, a place of quiet contemplation to watch a sherbet sunset from your pew of pink granite. But it wasn't sunset and I didn't even get out of my car.  I watched the misting rain bead up and drip down the windows  I unwrapped a granola bar and chewed as I considered my current state. Granola bars are perfect for this.  They require a serious amount of chewing.  I heard the waves on the rocks and the chatter of tourists.  And I wondered what to do next.

What brought me there is a story for another day but the long and the short of it is I was having trouble figuring out where I belonged.

I needed to sort it out.  I called ahead to make sure The Family Cottage was vacant. Directions are fairly simple including "left at the flagpole" but I didn't need directions. I packed up some leftovers, a duffel bag of ill-thought-out clothing and channeling Cheryl Strayed, I headed north.

There were a few logistical issues- that I had no idea how to build a fire was the primary concern.  Apparently, this thought had occurred to at least one other as well and he had a different idea about me staying in a cold cottage alone.  I considered my predicament very, very briefly.  So, goodbye Cheryl Strayed and hello Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame as I willingly peeled off my clothes in the guest bedroom in The Cottage Across The Road.  I climbed up and into bed slipping between ironed sheets and pulled a six-inch thick down comforter over my head.

I awoke to a view of hydrangeas outside the window of my bedroom.  Their summer pastels had given way to the soft browns of fall.  I heard the click of dogs' nails on the wooden floor and heard them come padding down the hall only to be disappointed by my closed bedroom door.  A few quiet sniffs then they turned and padded away.  I smelled coffee and considered the Maine morning in front of me.

What to do today?  What to do for the next 100 days, for the next 15 years.  How do I solve this problem?  What can I live with?  Which is how I found myself napping at Schoodic. Those are big, giant questions.

The windows started to fog and my legs started to cramp.  I climbed over the seats and landed in the driver's seat with a thud.  I looked to the left just in time to see four women climb into an enormous truck with a Sisters on the Fly logo on the side.

A little googling led me to their website. Once upon a time, a brave unconventional mother used to take her two girls out. As in outdoors to the rivers and the mountains where they learned how to fish and camp and a multitude of other outdoorsy type of things.  Mazie, the mom, passed away but the sisters kept up their adventures eventually deciding this was way too much fun not to find a way to share the joy with other women.  They came up with the idea of a group called Sisters on the Fly and for a nominal yearly fee,  you get to band up with other women all looking for adventure. There are a few rules; No men.  No kids.  Be nice.  Have fun.  

I cheered up.  I made a mental note to join.  The Be Nice part had some real appeal at that moment.

Then I went back to The Cottage Across The Street.  I tried to help with dinner but my offers were mostly refused.  Instead, I sat in a rocking chair in front of the windows and looked out over the bay.   Geraniums lined the window sills ready to winter indoors, though a few plants were still thriving and hanging on to their last blooms on the deck.  The dogs claimed the couch and I rocked in my chair. And I was told stories.  Stories of choices made and stories of those without choices.  Stories of what it takes to walk away, stories of what it takes to stay, and stories of what it takes to reinvent yourself.

The stories paused as dinner was mostly prepared.  I tied my sneakers and went across the street.  I was looking for something left behind last summer and returning something I hadn't meant to take home. Though my grandparents have been gone a long time their cottage remains.

I opened the door and stepped back in time. To last summer when I came with my girls and we saw the seals basking on the islands and pulled angry lobster from the ocean.  To the day we went to Campobello and had Tea with Eleanor.  To the Thanksgiving when I was 14 and I fired a shotgun for the first time.  To walking through the door with one baby, then two, then three.

Tea with Eleanor

I pass from the living room to the kitchen.  The kitchen door jamb is crowded with markings.  They start about at two feet up and go well past the six-foot mark.  Names and dates next to lines marking the height of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  They remind me of the growth rings of a tree. A family growing both in numbers and size.

And I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 1:9

What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.

I am tired, weary even but not discomforted by that thought. Instead, it feels reassuring. Circular. Many of the best things are circular like pizza and wedding rings, sunflowers and the moon.

And I am reminded I do belong.


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