When I was a teen, my parents had a tiny cottage on a lake in Massachusetts. It was my favorite place on earth. My mom took her two daughters up to the lake on the last day of school and we wouldn’t go back to ‘town’ until two days before school started.
We lived in our bathing suits. We’d wake up, shower, put on our swimsuits and stay in them all day. We swam. We water-skied. We lay around on the dock. We drove the boat around. We lay in damp swimsuits on the couch and read dime novels that we snagged out of the dump, back when it was still called the dump.
What we did not do was eat. What my mother did not do was cook. What my mother did not do was make sure we ate.
Looking back, this is one of the reasons I loved it at the lake so much. Food was not on the agenda.
Isn’t that the strangest thing? I think of food as an interruption.
“We have to stop and eat?! WHY?”
At the lake, I’d wake up in the morning and eat a piece of toast. I’d eat half of a Popsicle sometime in the middle of the day and then I’d eat a plum or a peach sometime after that. Sometime at dusk I’d eat a TV dinner. If we didn’t feel like a TV dinner, we’d go to Ragazzi’s; I’d get spaghetti with meatballs. Or we’d drive to a dairy farm and get freshly-made ice cream from a wooden booth right next to the barn! That was the best ice cream of my life.
My mother never, not once, cooked a meal at the lake or asked me what I wanted to eat or when I wanted to eat. My mother left the kitchen behind in town. My mother and sister ate whatever they felt like eating (as long as it didn’t require cooking) and no one paid any attention to food, the kitchen, the oven, or ‘meal time’.
It was bliss. My mom was taking a vacation from being a mom. She played at the lake; driving the boat while I water-skied, sitting on the deck with her bare feet on the rail and smoking a cigarette, watching her kids swim in the lake, reading a book in the hammock. My mom took the summer off. Good for her! And because she did, I got the summer off. For me, the most unexpectedly sweet memory of summer is the memory of not having to fuss with food, about food, for food. My definition of summer bliss means eating whatever you want, whenever you want.
How do you define summer bliss? What is your biggest lifestyle change between summer and fall?