Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I’ve just come back

from Cuttyhunk Island. Yes, that island. The one in the memoir. And the one thinly disguised as Bayberry Island in the Summerhood Island series.

Well, they do say write what you know.

I spent some quality time with my sister Nina, who played gracious hostess to my little extended family  not once but several times.

And experienced the joy of helping my kid Megan re-create some of her favorite childhood experiences for her own daughter Malia.

The island I remember is no more. It has changed hugely, not just since the closing of the Allen House  but even in these few short years when I’ve returned to spend part of the summer here with my family.

Yet, there was still a Fourth of July golf cart parade for Malia to experience last summer. 

She can still walk down to the dock for ice cream, and now even have a choice between hand scooped and soft serve. 

If you came here as just a transient visitor you might not even notice the changes. Bruce still sells lobsters out of his shack on the fish dock, even if he doesn’t go lobstering himself anymore.There are still gangs of kids roaming the town, their number and makeup changing fluidly and almost seamlessly as renters come and go. The only change you'd notice from a picture taken 30 year ago is that bikers and skateboarders flying down the hill wear helmets now.

One of the first comments from an old friend who visited us was " I just walked up that big hill and there were children playing hide and seek."

Yes. Hide and seek. Alone in the dusk. Safely.

This year, like so many years before, I begged a ride from a friend and went clamming in Nashweena pond. This year, I took my family.

on our way thanks to captain Arnie

When Megan was eight or nine she joined the Cuttyhunk Yacht Club and learned to sail.
Malia went for a week this year. It hasn't changed much.
yacht club boats at low tide.

I set the Summerhood Island series on an island remarkably like Cuttyhunk Island because I wanted the childhood I gave my characters. And if I couldn't have that, I wanted to give others a chance to experience it vicariously.

Life changes. But in some places, it changes more slowly than in others. Children may not be able to climb to the top of the pilings to jump off the dock in the traditional Cuttyhunk farewell to friends,
after who knows how many years someone decided this was dangerous and capped the pilings
But they still manage to jump.

Megan told me one night at dinner that Cuttyhunk was the most stable point in her life.

I hope Malia can say the same one day. Or at least, read one of the Summerhood Island books and say- 

"I've been there. I did that."