That Summer Place

Summer has arrived. YAY YAY YAY. (If you haven’t picked up on this by now, I’m a major warm-weather girl.) But this year, I’m a student in the big city. I need your help getting to those special summer places we’ve all been before… The ones that give you chills of excitement during the winter, the ones for which we wait all year, the ones that come with dripping slices of watermelon and pink toenail polish — BBQs outside, humidity-heavy breezes, and road trips out of the city, the ones that are about to arrive because TODAY is the very first day of my favorite season… It’s sweet, sweet SUMMER TIME!!

View of Adirondack chair and pool at my parents' place upstate. Dutchess County, NY.

Last year I spent my summer in the perpetual spring of Quito, Ecuador. I was over 9,000 ft up in the stunning Andes mountains, but couldn’t stop dreaming about sea level. This year, I will fill my summer with as many weekends in Dutchess County by the pool as I can. Man, I love summer weekends.

No matter where future summers take me, the summers of my childhood can never be replaced. Back then, life was as simple as the crinkly grass under my feet. All I was looking for in my life was blue sea glass or an extra pretty shell. I spent each summer at a beach house on the North Shore of Greenport, LI called Rocky Bluff. My parents began renting the house with another couple before they even got married. We continued to spend our summers in Greenport until there were just too many Tavels to squeeze in the old cottage. Not to mention, rents skyrocketed as the nearby Hamptons became, well, THE Hamptons, but Greenport always remained a slice of Heaven; it had the happiness and peace of a still-undiscovered perfect place, far away from the swankiness of the it-town.

Summers revolved around life in the backyard eating corn on the cob with our neighbors, and playing imaginary games of shipwrecks with my then three siblings using the washed up driftwood, seaweed and garbage that covered the shore. Our backyard smelled constantly of ocean and honeysuckle, fruit was as ripe and fresh as I’ve ever tasted it, and we’d eat only vegetables from our overly successful garden, which we tended to daily with the help of my once organic-farmer dad and our neighbor Byron, who looked like Elvis Presley. Oh, and the fresh fruit pies from Briermere Farms – the best, freshest pies in the world. How could I ever forget the pies?!

This summer, I’m obviously doing the whole student-thing (and they weren’t kidding: it’s hard work!). I’m also writing, and working on a book dream. But no complaints! Things are off to a wonderful start. I’ve got some really good new people in the picture and great old ones, too. I’m doing my best to balance everything (school, writing, pressures of academia, friends, special friends…) with summer’s sweet charm, but  things are inevitably going to spin off-balance here and there, and that’s ok. I just hope I can get some “summer” out of this summer, while working my butt off.

Wave. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

As we all know, I’m staying put for a bit. (Read: a “bit” — this is deliberately vague, as we never really know where life will take us next. Can I please still believe in that a little?) I’ve begun wanderlust-ing for Thailand pretty hardcore. Not to mention the constant yearning to stroll beside the Alhambra with the sweet citrus scent of orange trees and ham in Southern Spain, or even the simple and constant desire to be by the sea, near wild blueberries, somewhere far away from the city…

But summer as a student in the city is different. And mine needs your help.

Because I cannot travel right now, I would like everyone to contribute — as a comment — a few sentences about their favorite summer place (how does it feel, smell, sound, and taste? where is it? why there?).  What is your ideal summer setting? Let’s all sip a sangria (or iced coffee, depending on time of day people!) while we read, and let real life and it’s imperfectly busy moments wash away with our footprints in the sand, at least for a few shared moments on TwT…

Take us to your summer place, wherever it may be, and feel free to recommend exact hotels, beaches, B&Bs, or whatever…

Now, about that sangria… I’ve gotta make some. And soon.



Filed under Contributor, Life Stuff, School, Travel, Uncategorized

14 responses to “That Summer Place

  1. Lovely post, as always, Tavvy. Glad to hear things are going so well for you!

    My favorite summer place is Harpswell, Maine. My family and I have spent summers there for as long as I can remember. It’s how I found Bowdoin College, my alma mater. Lately we’ve been renting the same small little cottage right on the water on Basin Cove. It’s a short walk from the Dolphin Marina where we often go to watch the lobster boats come in, sometimes buying dinner there. A short walk in the other direction is a family owned ice cream shanty. Nothing beats summer in Maine. Picture: mid 70’s, sunny, a wrap-around porch, with the smell of the ocean on the fresh fresh air.

    Miss you Tavel!

    • travelswithtavel

      Thanks Jackie!! Mmmm, Harpswell, MAINE. Have to agree with you on the Maine = summer thing. The coast, the lobster, the ice cream, the air… Miss you (and Maine) too! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sarah Z

    My best summer memories are from my grandparents’ house in Col de Vence, France – just 40 min from Nice. Every summer my family and I would spend a few weeks, months whatever time we had picnicking in the surrounding mountains, exploring the old French towns, drinking Rose by the pool, and looking out over panoramic view of the Cote d’Azur. That will forever be my favorite place in the world…

  3. Geordie

    Well, that’s an easy one. For about 20 years my family rented a little shack (literally, it was a shack, that had been joined to another shack) in Little Compton Rhode Island. Outdoor shower, beach every day, barbecues, reading tons of books, catching crabs in tide pools, flying kites, listening to Red Sox games on the radio, playing scrabble, playing whiffle ball in the front yard, fresh corn on the cob. Peaceful and idyllic, amazing.

    • travelswithtavel

      Sometimes all we need is a shack for happy summer memories, right? Sounds perfect. It has all the elements I love, too…. Just summer in its simplicity.

      Thanks for sharing, G.

  4. Sarah D

    We never did one regular place for family holidays when I was a kid although we usually went somewhere in the Med (Spain, Portugal, Balearics – from the UK). One consistent factor was a swimming pool – my brother and I would spend hours jumping in, getting out. Jumping in, getting out (etc). The horrendous sun burn across my whole face one year is a lasting memory and will forever make me paranoid about getting in or on the water without a decent SPF! Before I peeled, I looked a lot like a wrinkly old granny at the age of about 12. Yuk!

    • travelswithtavel

      I guess it’s only fair that if you get to spent your summers in Spain, Portugal, Balearics, that you end up with a nasty sunburn. Such is life, right?!

      Sounds wonderful — minus the sunburn (and yes, we’ve ALL been there!). Thanks for sharing Sarah!!

  5. Julie Love

    How about the lake by the mountains in NH! That is my idea of summer! A ride in the boat to the sand bar. Set the anchor and go for a swim. Short amount of sunbathing and swim some more. A few snacks and a refreshment….Ahhhhh. Thanks for putting me there. I hope to see you this summer!

    • travelswithtavel

      Mmm, a ride in a boat to a sand bar sounds wonderful right now!! Take me, take me!!! Thanks so much for sharing Julie 🙂 Hope to see you soon too!!

  6. Dawn

    Since I was four years old, my mom, sister, grandparents, aunt and uncle have spent a week at my uncle’s childhood house on Sebec Lake in Dover Foxcroft, Maine. It’s in the exact center of Maine, which means four hours north of the NH border and no one knows about it 🙂 The things I dream about the rest of the year: waking up for a spectacular sunrise over the lake every morning, usually alone; kayaking; blueberry pancakes with Maine maple syrup; vigorous hikes, getting either lost or poured on and still loving it; midnight swims, the cold taking my breath away and then feeling extravagant and rejuvenating; reading/napping on the gently rocking, creaking dock; lingering dinners full of laughs on the screened-in porch; listening for the perfect call of loons after dinner; stars, so very many stars; the clean and pure air and scent of pine trees; the feeling of being blissfully relaxed, days unscheduled, mind free of worry, at peace. Oh summer 🙂

    • travelswithtavel

      Dawn! I love everything about every moment you just described, and I am going to make blueberry pancakes as soon as possible. Favorite bits: the cold taking your breath away and then feeling extravagant and rejuvenating; the gently rocking, creaking dock; lingering dinners on the porch; so very many stars… I’m there with you right now, savoring every second before I write my paper. Thank you.

  7. For a while I, too, jumped on the Jitney/bandwagon and used every weekend to ridicule NYC in the summer. I lamented the heat and the tourists and clogged the bridges and tunnels to escape a city I found insufferable. But lately I’ve been thinking about what that leaves behind.

    Nobody seems willing to speak up for hazy afternoons in central park, laconically throwing a football around sheep meadow while sharing plates of cold meat and thermoses of colder sangria. Nobody seems willing to celebrate the idea of dollar bills fished out of cargo short pockets to pay disdainful-looking Upper East Side doyennes for the privilege of escaping a summer thunderstorm underneath a Vermeer inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nobody seems to remember that the thrill of an indoor city turned inside out — with families on stoops yammering over each other in Chinese, French, Arabic and Spanish, all blocks from each other — is why we moved here in the first place.

    There’s many reason we all live here, and mine don’t take the summers off. I’ll bet yours don’t, either. So I’m not going to share memories of summers spent elsewhere. I’m going to encourage creating new ones from summers spent right here.

    • travelswithtavel

      You know, you’re right. New York in the summer can be a wonderful place, too. New Yorkers tend to have an escapism problem, but there is much to be said for those sultry nights in Central Park (it’s been too long since I did one of those), beer by the Hudson River, and the joy of sipping sangria at a curbside table with the best people-watching this world has to offer. (And even activities that do not involve alcohol!) There is SO much to love about NYC in the summer… I’ve got to savor it while it lasts.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts so articulately, Michael!

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