Published On: Fri, Aug 30th, 2013

Note to Self…What I did on summer vacation

By Lisa Stansell

Remember these? Decked out in shine-y new clothes, the first thing the teacher does is assign a breezy account of how we spent the languorous days of the past three months. Seems a bit twisted now I think about it. Right? How exactly was this supposed to get us in school mode? But now, now that I am fully ensconced in that sometimes very elusive state of mind known as “grown up” I see this was a coalescing. I see the door closing and a door opening simultaneously. A bridge from bathing suits and cloud dreaming to the more defined “school clothes” and more focused, get-your-juices-flowing brain energy. A way to mark the passage of time and crystallize the memories. And so, lovely readers, who have wondered where the heck I have been for the past several months, this is my tiny take on “What I did on summer vacation.”

For me there wasn’t a long span of time that I could daze and dream and dip my toes in the water – lake, stream, river or waterfall – but there were moments when all that happened, all at the same time, and I caught the shadow of the girl I used to be. Caught the feeling of “summer vacation” so strongly it took my breath away.

A trip with two of my very best friends from childhood to Blackwater has us all still laughing. I highly recommend a road trip with best friends. Definitely with a caravan of three cars up the winding twisting Rt. 219 North for three hours. The toe dipping, dreamy daze from a very large rock above Blackwater Falls was rudely interrupted by the very long, slithering, almost sinister looking, snake who determined to let us know by swimming back and forth that we were on his rock and we needed to go. Who says grown women can’t squeal like little girls??

A road never traveled took us to Lake Sherwood via Marlinton … from Lewisburg. Because evidently it had been way too long and I forgot where it was and also forgot my Gazetteer. I know. I heard the voice of my much younger Dad whisper in my ear a few times “It’s a road …who cares where it will take vou.” I could almost smell the warm leather from the paneled station wagon of my youth.

Sometimes time stretched out and the girl I used to be came and stayed a while. The fireworks brought her out with delighted gasps and repeated versions of “Ohh! That one’s mv favorite!” Waterfalls always bring her out. Daylillies left standing in the middle of a freshly mown field brought a smile at the thought of the man who purposely mowed around them. The sound of crickets ringing loud and fireflies competing with the moon almost has her dancing.

Sometimes time wrinkled together in a shimmery haze of memories made and in the making. Pictures of waterfalls in Arizona from the middlest brought together the girl in her and the girl in me. The littlest dancing unawares in the newly created dance studio stops my heart as I see both her and the knockkneed ballerina I was. The eldest – almost new mom proud bearing babies from the garden in my beat up market basket – brought me tomatoes she had grown from seed and I caught the glimpse of the 25 year old me in her every move.

What did I do on summer vacation? I soaked in time and sunshine. I basked in hugs from friends and visiting family. I picnicked on rocks and meadows and abandoned porches. I laughed so hard I cried and had to beg for mercy. I was 13. And 26. And 5. And 39. And 47. The camera overflows with vignettes marking the passage of time. And now, with summer backing its way down the mountains, the crystal sharp memories settle in, find their place amongst others. They bridge the “then” and the “now.” Lucky woman that I am, I know the way.