Friday, April 6, 2012

Flying Fantasies

I spent most of my summers in Calais, Maine.  That's pronounced "callous," not "cal-lay," as they pronounce it in France.  Calais sits on the northeast corner of the United States across the border from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada.  Mother was, in fact, born in Canada as there was no hospital facility in Calais in 1916.  And when we were young and wanted to see a movie, we walked across the bridge to catch a performance at the only cinema.

Calais was a wonderful place to summer.  Around my grandparents' house were fields for exploring rocky streams and woods and wonderful things.  The town was small enough so we could walk downtown or to the river or to the cemetery where we would picnic with our great aunt.  There was a garden where my great aunt and I would pick raspberries for breakfast and green beans for dinner.  We picked butter lettuce, which we then sprinkled with sugar and popped into our mouths.  Just like candy.

When it rained, we would spend the day on the sleeping porch playing canasta or board games or reading.  The sleeping porch must have had a gazillion beds in it.  Or so it seemed.  And maybe one actual piece of sitting-on furniture--some overstuffed, long worn out and discreetly covered chair.  From the porch, we could see the world go by--though in Calais, there wasn't much world that went anywhere.

When I was very young--but old enough to remember, the water arrived in a pump in the kitchen.  When the house upgraded to running water, flush toilets and showers, it was luxurious.  Nana made our meals on an enormous wood stove.  I'm sure she had to heat water on the stove just to wash the dishes.  It's hard to imagine for those of us who grew up with modern conveniences--even if our conveniences were a whole lot less modern than most of our neighbors'. 

Yesterday as I walked the dog, I came across spinners that brought me back to those summers in Calais.  Spinners are the seeds from the maple tree that are attached to what looks like a wing and fall from the tree--often in pairs--and spin like helicopter blades.  We used to open them at the seed part and stick them on our noses. Here's a photo of (l to r) Samantha, Christine, and Sam sporting the helicopter blades on their noses the way we did as children. 

Funny, though.  We never did lift off--except in spirit.