The tides and times of summer


I’ve been trying to collect a few fine moments from this summer – with the pleasant prospect that August may add to my treasures.

We spent an early June weekend in Chatham, on Cape Cod, and my choice of mental “snapshots” was a tiny shack with an unkempt front yard, right in the midst of the town.  It’s a museum!  And the weeds are actually the native wildflowers of long ago!  The front room is a birthing chamber, and as a miniaturist, I was charmed by this wee celebration of yesteryear.

On the brink of July, with its jubilations galore, we gathered with our son and his family at the Weekapaug Inn, in Westerly, with its genuine log fireplace and its fresh staircase mural (by Rhode Island School of Design students) of native shorebirds among the pleasure boats – but my toast is to the tea in the lobby.

I paid ten bucks – $10! – for a cup of Earl Grey, but wait! It was served in a fine French cup, with a saucer, and the cream was in a small pitcher and the sugar in a wee bowl. With a cloth napkin, even.

While the weather during our stay at the inn wasn’t quite conducive to a swim in the sea, I am not complaining. Instead, I am complimenting the elegance of this little tea luxury.  Totally worth the price, for the likes of me.

Summertime for me has always included a quest for new books to take to small nooks for private and solitary pleasures.  My good friends Betsey and George Goodwin presented me (gift-wrapped and ribboned) with a book titled  “American Birds” and subtitled  “A Literary Companion” – perfect for me. The excerpts are dated from 1782 to 2017, and written by the likes of Thoreau and Emerson, Emily Dickinson and Rachel Carson.

Are birds angels that carry messages from heaven to Earth and back?

I have managed, so far this summer, to get my fresh-water swims in my hidden, or public, lakes, both in Rhode Island (I won’t divulge the locations) and nearby Massachusetts. As for swims in the great ocean this summer, here’s my report: Yes, in coves, rivers and for a few fast plunges into the high tides of our shorelines. I totally need these dips for my skin … all the way through to my soul.

As I write these reminiscences, I am looking forward to a trip to the nation’s capital, if it is possible, to visit our daughter Lily and her family.

And this summer, as in summers past, I will light two candles for my mother, who was born on Aug. 2 and died on Aug. 2. This is also one of my summer treasures, since grief is often followed by our state motto: Hope.

Sorrows are sacred, but so is the pursuit of happiness, as time and tide go by.

MIKE FINK ( teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.