Monday, June 25, 2007

Smallwood June 2007

Yesterday the lake opened for the season and HH played in the sand and laughed and ran until he finally fell to the ground, cranky and beat and ready for a warm bath and bed. Just before he fell asleep he said that he wanted to stay here, that he didn’t want to get back on the plane for the long ride home to Germany. When asked what he thought about missing his Oma and favorite Tante he simply replied; “They will stay in their house and I will stay here.” He has fallen under the spell of Smallwood.

And so the summer begins, and it is what I had dreamed it would be for him, now that he is big enough to move around on his own and fluent enough to carry on conversations with the old folks under the maple trees that line the lakefront. He is a favorite here and there have been many wrinkled faces broad with smiles upon first seeing him, and ice creams and little surprises slipped into his hands. And there are also faces similar to his own, the boys and girls from previous summers and when they meet they fall instantly to play as if no winter had interrupted their goings-on.

It is a coming home of sorts, returning to this summer community in the Catskills, they are not our blood relatives, these New York Irish strong with Bronx flavors in their blood and speech, but they are a sort of family, one that is acquired over time spent together, a mythic sort of summer kinship that isn’t uniquely American but is something we have had a great deal of practice perfecting in our collective experience and memory.

Our community is called Smallwood it was established in the 1920’s, as a retreat from the hum and drum and bustle of Manhattan. In the old days there was a grand lodge house, a general store and even a small furniture factory that turned out the distinctive pine furniture that fills many of the older cabins here. After the War the automobile and the airplane and the lure of more exotic locales drew the younger ones away and finally the older ones as well and the region suffered an economic decline from which it has yet to recover.

Smallwood changed as well, but this small Hamlet, just a mile or so from the site of the famous Woodstock concert, never completely faded away and enough families retuned each summer to it’s deep woods and cool nights that it remained vital if somewhat diminished from it’s earlier glory days. Today there is a post office and a small general store which changes hands every year or two because there are still not enough folks up here to sustain it, although there never seems to be a shortage of people who believe that their vision of the store will be successful.

There are bears and owls and deer and tall trees that shade and cool the ground and old cabins with stone fireplaces and broken down trucks in the yard. And there are folks we great each June, with whom we share our precious summers and together build the stuff of memory.

Copyright 2007 German Diary



Blogger Carol said...

Do you stay for the entire summer and write professionally from there? It sounds like heaven.


6:57 PM  
Anonymous nyc to new hampshire said...

This is so much like New Hampshire except the locals stayed.

New Yorkers (Summer People to the locals) come and go, but the locals are here year-round to support the general store.

I had to brake a couple of days ago because a young moose decided to cross the road.

Looking forward to you posts from Smallwood this summer.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Carol, it sounds like heaven! Hopefully, the return won't be too tough.

All the best for you and your family and enjoy your holidays.


3:25 AM  
Anonymous nyc to New Hampshire said...

Smallwood, New York, 2000 census: 566!

I didn't think any town was smaller than my New Hampshire town of 1,144!

Have a great summer.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

9890196Carol ... Not the entire summer (unfortunately) ... It is a sweet spot, not heaven exactly but as close as I'll ever know.

Sandy ... Good to see you and thanks for the thoughts.

NYC to NH ... Thank you for reading these posts from the sticks ... I hope you enjoy them.

10:37 AM  

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