Friday, September 2, 2011

The Beach House

I know I promised I'd post this yesterday, but it was a long, long day.  I couldn't summon the energy to deal with this.  But, now, for you guys, I will.

When I was a sophomore in college I met someone who turned out to be one of my best friends ever.  One of those people I can sit in a room with and say nothing at all and be completely comfortable.  I could drop my kids at her house snotty nosed at midnight with no explanation, and it would be fine (if we lived closer).  Her family "adopted" me, and I ended up spending many Christmas holidays and summer weeks with them.  During the summer they live at their beach house in Connecticut.

Now, to look at, the beach house isn't glitzy.  It's over 100 years old, and hasn't been modernized much other than electricity in the 50's.  The items inside are relics of a past age, many from her mom's father's childhood (that would be when her Great grandparents lived in the house!)  The truth is, though, the beach house is magical.  When you get there, all worries fall from your shoulders.  Your biggest concern is making sure you don't track in sand.  Chores that normally drag you down (doing dishes, cooking) are fun there.  And you're almost never alone (unless you want to be).  Sigh.

 This is the living room.  My friend, Jess and her younger son, Sam.
 This is the view from the front porch swing.  Keep in mind that the "front" of the beach house faces the ocean, and the "back" faces the street ;)
 Same space with a little o toddling by.  The retaining wall is only about 3 years old.  Before it was just a stone wall up to the grass.
 This is the side yard.  We brought the castle tent with us, and it was a great hit (thanks Wootkids!)
 Little o enjoying the porch swing and the ocean breeze.
 Me invading little o's swing for some little boy time.
 The view of the porch from the swing.  The awnings all fold down when it's windy or raining so you can still enjoy the porch!
 It was like a clown car.  How many kids fit into the tent.  Answer 5, easily.
 Little o and Sam on "the rock".  The rock comes with rules if you're under 10.  You must be with an adult, lest you fall into the ocean.
 Another view of the living room.  Isn't it gorgeous?  Sigh.  The floors are beautiful, with the sockets build right into the floor!  Those french doors are normally wide open.  Here the boys are having a little early morning fun with cars.
 This is the side of the house.  Jess is practicing for a triathlon (I know, she's crazy, right?  Amazes me regularly.)  The point of the picture is to show you the outdoor shower, though.  Most of us just wash off the sand and salt water.  The little guys can take a full shower out here, though.  Jess' Mom, Sally (the nicest lady on earth) delighted in bringing down the baby soap and towels so the boys could have an outside bath.  Nothing like naked boys running on the side lawn, right?
 Sallie taught LG how to get up onto the porch swing all by himself.  He LOVED that an adult showed him that.
 This is the view down the beach.  When we would come for breaks from college we'd wander down the beach to the public beach (all the beaches in front of the houses are private, the beach at the end of the street is public.  Traditionally, your neighbor across the street has a right of way to the beach in front of your house.  Most neighbors don't care if you walk along the shore, as long as you're not loud!)  We'd collect sea glass and sea shells to bring back to school.  Chat away the afternoons along the shore.  I took the boys walking along the shore when they got restless.  O darted in and out of the surf, and LG poked at piles of shells and seaweed with a stick.  Little boy stuff.
 Little o will now tell you that a seagull says, "Squawk, squawk!"
 Some quiet time in the living room.
 PB relaxing.
 Here's the kitchen.  The old cup boards build into the walls.  I can't tell you how many cups of tea I've enjoyed in this kitchen.
 Another view of the sea wall.
 LG and PB chilling on the porch.
 From the rock, facing the ocean.
 Same spot towards the house.  We stayed up on the 3rd floor which has one full sized bedroom, one tiny bedroom and a bath with a HUGE tub.

 Here's the tub.  The boys loved to take baths in it (almost as much as the outdoor shower.  They were either squeaky clean or completely sandy all week.)
 The boys bedroom.  LG really like his little bed (which is a left over from another era.  It's not a "twin" it's a "single".  There is also a "double" (versus the modern full) in the house.

 Another view of the kitchen.  Yes, the phone on the wall still rings.  You can't answer it here, but it is still connected to the line.  The old enamel "counter" in the middle is one of my favorite pieces of furniture ever.  The high chair that o sat in (happily, I might add, which he never did at home) is that white chair there.  Jess grandad sat in it when he was o's age, over 100 years ago.  Sturdy as ever.

This is the dish room.  All sorts of dishes, all for you use and enjoyment.  None are off limits.  Bamboo print, little anchors, flowers, blue stripe, take your pick.  And enough cocktail glasses to get the whole neighborhood souced..  The room is a pass through from the living room to the kitchen.  The boys were not allowed through unescorted.

Take in all the loveliness.  Feel the ocean breeze and the sun on your cheeks. Listen for the sound of the ice cream man coming down the beach road (LG's favorite thing.  I didn't realize he's never seen an ice cream truck before!  He loved it.  Even better, it came during nap time, so he could order all the blue treats he wanted with no little o to worry about!)

Ok, now take a deep breath.  This is that same house from across the street last Sunday:

Nope, you can't see the lawn, or the yard for that matter the street.  The rock was completely submerged, as was the wall.  Since they knew the storm was coming for days ahead of time, they prepared and boarded up the house as best they could.  They moved all the porch furniture and awnings to storage and moved up as much furniture as they could to the second floor.  Water came in, but they weren't washed away.  It has long since receded (unlike the folks who got flooded and still have water rising).  Now they're just dealing with having sandy mud in the place.  Without power.  But they have water, so they're sitting tight and cleaning out.  They've done this before. 

I know it could have been much worse.  Whole towns were wiped off the map.  People had houses split in two.  But to me, this is just a tragedy.  The house has been in her family for many, many generations.  The notion that they still use the plates and couches and things that her great grandparents bought before the depression always afforded me some comfort.  Some things do last more than a life time. We don't all fade away immediately into memory. 


VandyJ said...

That looks like a fabulous place to vacation. I'm glad it weathered the storm so well. Some things are built to last.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Oh my God, that last picture just shocked me! The same house! So many items of history there, how could one not have the best time just being there?
You're linked! Counting it with this week since you've been regaling us with vacation shots all week! :-)
You're linked!

The Crazy Coxes said...

It's beautiful! Beach houses aren't supposed to be glitzy because....they are beach houses and are going to full of water and sand. I love the dish room!

Captain Dumbass said...

What a fantastic house! And at lease the neighbours house didn't get washed away. More importantly, at least nobody was hurt.

SuziCate said...

What a fabulous place! I love that highchair, and oh, the dish room! Thanks you for sharing these lovely photographs. I do hope the damage was not too severe to this wonderful piece of family history! I love old homes that travel through families and stack up memories for many generations.