Last weekend, guess what we did? Hung out with our cousins at Claudette and Roger’s camp. We try to do this once a year, just for the heck of it. What a hoot!
Sure, some things have changed. Instead of talking about work, it’s all about when we plan to retire, how long we’re going to try to wait to collect Social Security. Instead of our kids, we talk about aging parents and grand kids. Instead of envelopes of loose photos, we take turns squinting at our smart phones, trying to find that great shot we just have to share. We travel more. We drink less alcohol and more decaf.
But some things stay the same. We still overeat. Oh my God, do we ever! This year, we had a donut theme going: plain donuts with maple icing, apple cider donuts, glazed molasses, you name it. I don’t know how many I ate, ‘cause I never took a whole one, just a half here, a quarter there—like all the calories spill out if you break the donuts in pieces. If only that were true!
Mostly, though, we talk, sometimes in French, sometimes in English, and we laugh a lot. In our gang, if you want to get the chuckles going, just bring up the church. Michael goes, “My parents told me that if I went to a Protestant church, then got hit by a bus, I’d go to straight to hell.”
“Right!” says Paul. “Sister Clémence told me that if I did anything bad and got hit by a bus, I’d go to hell. This didn’t make me stop doing bad stuff, of course, but it did make me very cautious around busses!”
“Remember when we used to play church?” Rosie asks. “And we’d all fight over who was going to be the priest?”
“Monique always won.”
“That’s right! ‘Cause I used animal crackers for communion wafers.”
“Much better than Guy’s Saltines.”
“Hey,” Guy says, “I didn’t want to waste my animal crackers on all of you. I only got one box a week!”
“Okay, okay,” Stephanie chimes in. “You know how in the kitchen you have two towels, right?”
“Yeah. One for the dishes and one for wiping your hands.”
“Right! Well, did anyone’s family have a name for them?”
“Sure, the dish towel and the hand towel.”
“In our house, our mother called the towel that you use on the dishes the ‘Virgin Mary towel.’ And the other towel, the one you can use on anything else, she called the ‘Mary Magdalene towel.’”
“Oh, my God! I never heard that!”
“Try explaining that to your Protestant husband. A guy who never got the separate towel thing to begin with. Right, Joe?”
“Nope. A towel’s a towel. I dry my hands on both of them.”
“Sacrilege!!” we shout.
At times like this, I’m reminded that home is not so much an actual place as it is a feeling. Don’t get me wrong: I love Maine and our double-wide and all that. But being with folks that I have a shared history with, who look at things in a similar way, who are familiar and comfortable, that’s a wonderful thing. I see a gesture out of the corner of my eye, and remember my mother. I hear a French expression, and I’m transported back to a lazy day of fishing with my grandfather. I know that we could be anywhere, in New York city or the middle of the Mohave desert, and I’d feel right at home. ‘Course, it’s a bonus that I’m at Claudette and Roger’s camp on Moose Megantic Lake, hanging out with some of my favorite people. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Upcoming Shows & Book Events: Summer
July 1 Reading, Brooksville Free Library, 6:30 p.m., Brookville, ME
July 8, Reading, Belgrade Public Library, 6:00 p.m., Belgrade, ME
July 14 Reading, Freeport Community Library, 7:00 p.m., Freeport, ME
August 9 A Visit With Ida, Storytelling by the Sea, 7:15 p.m., Castine, ME
August 14 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 8:00 p.m., Portsmouth, NH
August 15 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 2:00 p.m., Portsmouth, NH
August 19 Reading, Southwest Harbor Public Library, 5:30 p.m., Southwest Harbor, ME
September 4 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 8:00 p.m. Portsmouth, NH
September 5 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 2:00 p.m. Portsmouth, NH