We arrived in Orleans, on Cape Cod at about 6 o’clock Saturday afternoon. The kids — Jen, Rob, Eli and Viv — we already there. This is our third year at 15 Country Lane on Pilgrim Lake. As we went about unloading the car, unraveling table umbrellas, putting out deck chairs and other getting organized activities, I couldn’t help thinking about On Golden Pond. A week ago, Diane and I saw a staging at the Bucks County playhouse. I re-watched the 1981 Hepburn-Fonda-Fonda movie this past year. Play and movie were both delightful.
Cape Cod has become a family tradition, since our Nantucket rental house was sold. With Jenny, we had vacationed there for over 10 years — usually for 2 week stays. Although we miss Nantucket, Pilgrim Lake is quite quiet — a small bathing beach opposite our dock, an occasional canoe or kyack, fishermen. But like Rattlesnake Bank, our Nantucket “home,” we don’t see another house. Peaceful.
Early Sunday morning, Eli was on the dock, catching yellow perch. Then he and Viv came up to the deck with a medium size turtle in a bucket. Fifteen minutes later, we were all called to the dock, Eli had spotted a large, very large turtle in the shallows. I’m pretty sure it’s a snapper, Viv claimed his neck was bigger than hers; Eli estimated that the shell was over 15 inches. Allowing for a bit of exaggeration, it’s one big turtle and I suspect we will see it again. Oh, a 15 inch shell is probably a turtle past 80 to 100 years old. Diane put out some sunflower seeds for the birds but so far, the tray has been the property of a chipmunk. Jen said the chipmunks climb the trees, not something we’ve seen in other place. Sitting on on the deck, we watch an agressive robin chase a family of Blue Jays. Listen and watch several woodpeckers. And saw an as yet unidentified large warbler? Or maybe it’s a flycatcher.
Anytime we travel, good food is a top priority. And we particularly enjoy seafood. On the drive up, we stopped at the Little Stone House Cafe in Guilford, CN, on the water. Discovered on a previous trip, they have “wow” lobster rolls — the lobster is/was plentiful, warm and buttery, on the traditional roll. Last night we grilled some salmon and tonight will have clam chowder and scallops. Eli has turned into a clam chowder connoisseur. Last year he tried four or five different chowders, rating and ranking them. Lots more seafood in the next two weeks.
One of my favorite On Golden Pond moments on the Cape was Eli catching his first small mouth bass. The first year, he was unsuccessful — only sunnies and perch. The day we left, I told Eli that the old Bass, let’s call him Bubba, is laughing, saying “see you next year sucker.” Last year Eli was determined. He bought shiners, larger hooks, was up at five in the morning on the dock. Finally Thursday afternoon he landed a bass. Eli was ready to get the frying pan but I said we needed good filleting knife. So we threw him back in. I told Eli about On Golden Pond, Norman and Billy and Walter, the big fish. We found the scene on YouTube. Several months ago I purchased a good filleting knife. Beware Bubba.
I don’t think I am as absent-minded or as mean-spirited as Norman; although Diane may take issue with me on that. But I love the character, his hats, caustic humor, and tell it like it is attitude. And the house on Golden Pond (Maine not Massachuttes), with its books, broken screen door, boat, easy chairs and downeast mailman is the ideal summer retreat. As much as I like exploring new places, there is a warmth and home feeling to vacationing in the same place, year after year, establishing family traditions. We were very fortunate to have Rattlesnake Bank just over 10 years. When the owner, John, decided to sell, we felt our home was being sold. Unfortunately we didn’t get any of the 2 million he got for the property. The small cottage was towed away. But we have found a home on Cape Cod.
So we will settle in for our third year on Pilgrim Lake, our Golden Pond for now.