Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Camp

We have just finished our first foray into summer camp, our first foray into this good old American tradition.  Summer camps weren't a part of the geography of my childhood or anyone I knew in fact. So, remembering my own summer holidays of idleness and unscheduled days I felt a little bad sending Max off with a pack-lunch in his backpack for a morning at school. Because it took place at school, the new one he is going to in September. And part of our thinking was that he'd be familiarising himself with the new building, new playground, new faces.  And part of the thinking was that he's been idle and unscheduled since the beginning of June...and it's now the end of August.  My main objective though was that he would like his new school. And like it he does.
During the course of the week, they designed boats with various bits of life's shrapnel; bottle tops, plant matter, sticks and corks. Max chose bottle tops for his, and enhanced it with paper and sellotape. Grinning, he proudly declared: 'And mine SANK!'  So they worked out that wood and corks were the best boat-building materials and at the end of the week, took just such a vessel down to the sea to float out under the Golden Gate Bridge.  After so much entertainment I was feeling fairly confident about the school transition thing.
'Yes' he told me, he liked his new school, wasn't going to miss the old, and then with emphasis 'because the loos are so much better!'  So much for boat-building!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's been a tricky adjustment back to life in the States after a whole month in the UK. I've been grumpy for a week. I can admit this, but don't even think about nodding in agreement.  Any of you boys, that is.  Anyway, I'm getting better.  It was a holiday after all. It had to end. And it will always be there.
Indulge me a little. Let me wallow in the smell of rotting seaweed, brought in by the ground sea of that stormy spring tide.  It's not to everyone's taste.  The sway of the boat as the rainbow feathers bring in a black, green, glistening mackerel from the dark sea.  Not like it was decades ago, of course, when they were hauled in by the dozen. And never a storm in July back then. That's what I'm told.  In those days, (forty years ago was it?) the boats spent months tied to the moorings and came in only to have seaweed scraped from their hulls like fat sheep ready for shearing.  Who can blame me for a little nostalgia when the past is something everyone there refers to, relishes in, even outsmarts one another over.  The way it was, the way it's always been.  The lie of the rocks, the lie of the land. And so I watch Max catch his first mackerel, his first rock-cod and I try to capture it with a photo, but really I'm hoping it is the smell he falls for, the sway of the boat, the scales on his hands, the sea salt starching his hat; not just a first memory but a whole topography to tread through.
What else? Buckets, spades, a treasured cowrie, lollipops on the beach, crickets on the green, grasshoppers and caterpillars to observe, paths through the maize, the potato harvest in full swing, crabs at low tide, boats in the river, feet in the ford, wet shoes again...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

San Franciscan Summer

We are experiencing our first real San Franciscan summer; foggy and cold.  We've been told again and again that July and August are actually winter in this pocket of geography but never quite seen it in all it's murky glory until now.  How it escaped us for the past four years I'm not sure, but it certainly wasn't this cold and I'm sure we had glimmers of sunshine at some point in the day. But something's not right when you are considering putting on the heating in August in the Northern Hemisphere.
All is not lost though, we have happy memories of summer in blightly to get us through the cold spell here (who'd have thought it!)