Susan Vaughan here. Summer is winding down (sorry for mentioning that), and here in Maine that’s mid August. I’ve finished the latest manuscript and am waiting for feedback from beta readers. So I want to share what I appreciate about summer beyond the warm weather and especially this summer.
LIVING BY WATER: I’m lucky living on a tidal river where I can watch the tides change and the gulls and eagles from my deck. We also have a cottage on a lake not far away, where we can boat and swim. There, I especially enjoy the loons. They serenade us at night calling to each other as their sleep lets them drift apart. A couple summers ago, the loon pair in our cove had a chick that we named Rocky. Rocky’s on the right, but hard to see. They let us get close enough in the canoe for a photo. It’s a little blurry but I love the reminder. One day, the parents set up an alarm when an eagle tried to snatch up Rocky, but the chick had dived out of danger, and the eagle left. An adult loon is too heavy for even an eagle. Loon chicks can dive about two weeks after hatching.
THE GARDEN: Last year’s garden didn’t do that well, partly because of the lack of rain. This year we got a late start because we were traveling two weeks in May, but the summer heat has spurred growth, and we’re beginning to harvest lettuce, radishes, and cucumbers. The pole beans are slowly growing, and I have hope. But the deer ate the tops of the sunflowers (I love sunflowers!), so not much hope there.
DECK: Summer is my time to enjoy the deck, both at home and at the lake. Sitting with my feet up, either reading or sketching out a new plot, on the deck is the best, especially at the lake. My dog Sasha, an unidentifiable mix, avoids the water as if it were acid, but the neighbors’ black lab will endlessly jump off their dock after a ball or stick. Fearful she’ll tire herself out too much to swim back to shore, they eventually drag her out of the water. Or maybe it’s because of their tired throwing arms.
We began only paddling, with a canoe and two kayaks, but three years ago, we acquired an 18-foot bowrider second hand, purchased in part by my book royalty money, thus the name. We still use the other craft, but for trips around the lake the powerboat is a must.
VISIT TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: This July, we spent several days in the Granite State, first to visit family on Lake Winnipesaukee (yes, more water). We had fun with our small great-nieces and their parents and enjoyed more boat rides. The little girls made Play-Doh pancakes and fed them to my husband. To their delight, he pretended to eat them.
Then we went to Mount Washington, in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. For those not familiar with this peak, it’s the highest in the Northeast at 6288 feet.
This picture I took at the top shows the Appalachian Trail leading to its northern end on Mount Katahdin, 332.4 miles away in Maine. By contrast, Katahdin is a mere 5268 feet high.
Mount Washington is known for extreme weather conditions and especially high winds. The treeless summit is accessible by road, by hiking trails, and by a railway with both steam and diesel engines.
We rode the cog railway, begun in 1869. Our single coach was powered by a coal-powered steam engine. I recommend the train for the views up and down (choose to sit on the side with 3 seats) and for the brakeman’s entertaining and informative commentary. Atop the mountain are the Mount Washington Weather Observatory and other buildings open to the public only in summer.
One is the Tip Top House, a hotel built in the mid 1800’s for hikers and early cog railway riders, and restored in the 1960’s as a museum. The bunkroom held about 10 wooden bunks, top and bottom, with curtains like on a Pullman train car. No luxury accommodations there, and the only heat was coal stoves in the other two rooms. I shuddered to think of sleeping on those hard bunks and was happy to ride down the mountain to our hotel with its comfy bed.
What is your summer favorite? (No fair saying warmer temperatures.)