This is our fourth summer at Smallwood. The earmarks on HH’s bedroom door show his growth over the years, he’s two heads taller than he was that first summer in 2005, the summer that lasted until late fall, the year we left New York for Europe.
He’s golden brown and strong and talking up a storm and singing, singing day and night. He’s enjoying his summer here. The children he has come to know over the years are all back and every sunny day they play at the lakefront together, building castles in the sand, picking blueberries, exploring the shallow water for crayfish and minnows and frogs, and swimming in the cool mountain lake. Smallwood is the kind of place that people imagine when they conjure childhood. It is unquestionably a place that time has forgotten. The parents may have blackberries tucked in their beach bags, but the scene here is much the same as it has been for the last sixty years. It’s simple and glorious summertime.
Later this morning we will drive down to Manhattan for the day. He has his annual physical with the pediatrician who has been his doctor since he was five minutes old. His doctor in Cologne is fine but nobody knows him as well and for as long as his first doctor and we like to have another set of eyes taking a look once a year, putting things in perspective. Later in the day we will visit the Museum of Natural History. We have been talking about it for some time now, this visit to the great museum that houses the world’s most extensive collection of prehistoric dinosaur bones. I can’t wait to walk into the place with him, there is nothing like this museum in Cologne and if there is one thing I regret about leaving New York it is the chance to stop in at a museum, a world-class museum, without a transatlantic journey. So during our stay each year we take a day or two and visit the City and this year he will have his first real Museum visit. He’s been to Museums before, to galleries and such, he was in the MET when he was a year old, but much of that time in his life is gone to him, his memory just couldn’t hold on to all those first experiences that seemed so important to us at the time. I’ll also take him to Union Square and maybe the Brooklyn Bridge if time permits. The Empire State building is another spot on our wish list but we will have to see how the day goes. We may just bite the bullet and stay late into the day and drive home after dark. We rented a nice little car so we don’t have to worry about breaking down on the road in the middle of the night. Our summer cars, the 88’ Toyota and tha 92’ Honda, are aging rapidly and not really reliable for long trips.
He’s very excited about going to NYC for the day, he is proud to call NYC his home, even if he isn’t quite sure about the difference between New York and Smallwood and America – they seem to be almost interchangeable. I’m proud of him, he’s a wise little boy, and although he can be rough at times, he’s a loving child, kind to others and generous and thoughtful. It is all I can do not to just hold him in my arms and cuddle him all day long.
One of the joys of summer here is something we started doing a year or two ago, during one of the frequent stormy late afternoons. We have a small day bed on the porch, it rests next to the far wall of the porch under two windows and when the thunder and lightning are raging outside, the two of us crawl under a blanket and prop ourselves up on the bed to watch the storm work it’s way through the sky. Even when it’s not storming he will often ask if we can sit up late and watch the stars, I think he just enjoys laying close to Papa talking about the wind and rain and stars. I know I do.