This weekend we are headed down to the Jersey Shore. My grandmother wrote Myles and Fiona a letter formally inviting them to come and celebrate Memorial Day weekend, even though it is something we do every year. At the end of her letter she tried to prepare them for how different the town might appear to their eyes. "You will be surprised, at how things have changed after the Sandy flood came." This startled me, and I realized that I had yet to eyewitness the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to the land of my family in Southern Jersey. When we were young, every summer we counted down the days till we traveled to my mother's childhood home. And now, I am able to bring my children there to experience the things that we all greatly savored. The water pump, the barn filled with treasures, Mr. Gopher's private entrance to his burrow under the shed, watching Frankenstein, memorizing Robert Lewis Stevenson poems. The ocean. But most of all we couldn't wait for the boardwalk. In the car this week I heard a Here and Now bit about the Jersey Shore readying for summer after Hurricane Sandy. They interviewed Brian Donohue after he had produced a short documentary on the heartache and dilemma of this unique vacationing region. It is called, 'Splinters & Sand'. It moved me deeply. Although our boardwalk in Ocean City did not sustain the damages as other Jersey boardwalks did. I still feel anxious about what it will look like. We will go and check on things. Try and spend as much money at Mac and Manco's as possible. 4 birch beers. 1 large pie (pizza.) And hopefully Wonderland will still be running the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Carousel. My grandfather would force us all to ride the carousel, well into our teens, no matter how much we protested. It was a tradition. And I will attempt to carry it on.
I will leave you with a poem that was pounded into my head as a child 15 miles inland on the back porch of this house. We would stand before everyone, forced to recite, The Swing, by Robert Lewis Stevenson.
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
My grandfather calls himself the 'Herring Town Poet' and creates beauties like this.