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Up in Annandale

August 25, 2010

Finally, on the very last day of the summer, AJ and I went to the beach.

I grew up swimming in the ocean, so lake beaches never seem like the’ll be real beaches to me. But the fact is that even though they smell a little difference, lake beaches are still pretty great. Plus they have a good lakey smell that makes me think of summer visits to the country club in the little town where my grandparents lived in Michigan.

But yesterday’s trip to the beach with AJ and his friend D felt like a real trip. The beach is stunningly close to home — a mere 20 minutes away. Why don’t we go all the time? Well, it’s kind of expensive if you don’t live in the town. But still, it’s movie-with-popcorn expensive, not private-jet-to-Monte-Carlo expensive. And yesterday, as it turned out, it was not expensive at all, because the parking attendant hadn’t shown up so parking was free and because AJ’s guest was a resident of the town and got us all in for $1 instead of the much higher non-resident fee.

AJ and D jumped in the water immediately. They put on their goggles and swam around looking for fish, which always seemed to be just out of reach. D grabbed a plastic sieve from our bag of sand toys and tried in vain to scoop them up, but they never got close enough. When they tired of that game, the built an elaborate sand castle at the water’s edge. Inside the castle walls was filled with water topped with several islands.

And then it was time for a nice healthy concessions stand lunch, after which we packed up our things and walked over to the shed where they rent the boats and we got a glittery blue paddleboat. I sat in the driver’s seat and the boys took turns sitting next to me to help peddle. AJ was nervous at first. It had been his idea, but when we got over there and he started reading the rules, he started to lose his courage. But we pushed him through and in the end, he had the best time, sticking his toes in the water out in the middle of the lake, staring through the clear, clear water to see all the weeds and fish below. We pedaled around about half the lake before we were tired and hot and headed back.

When we got back to the beach, we threw our belongings in a heap in the stand and plunged into the cool water. We paddled around there for a while until we were tired and then we packed up and left. It was a beautiful day.

AJ fell asleep as soon as we got home and woke up crabby an hour later when it was time for football practice. But he survived the night and so did we. He laid out his clothes carefully and set his backpack in the front hall before he went to bed.

This morning he was up at the crack of dawn. He talked a lot about how he wasn’t looking forward to school, but it was clear that he was excited about it. We had pancakes for breakfast and then we were off, walking past the horses, up the hill and all the way to school. It was our last first day doing that. Next year he goes to middle school by bus. They only had school for a couple of hours, so afterwards I took him and his friend K out to lunch and they played for most of the afternoon. It felt like a celebration, but it all makes me a little sad too. We’re back in the thick of it. The calendar keeps going. AJ keeps growing. Just when you get used to things, they are gone, like you’re on a fast train, watching the stations disappearing from view.

And to that end, I gave Dar Williams’ “The End of the Summer” a listen. It’s been a personal tradition ever since Cranky introduced me to it a few years ago. It’s the end of the summer, when you send your children to the moon.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2010 12:18 am

    My girls don’t start until the day after Labor Day. The State Fair is sacred here! They re-did the buildings and our school will be K-6 next year. Eden Prairie’s growth spurt is over and now the enrollment is cycling down a bit. Plus they want to keep the Spanish Immersion Middle School going.

  2. August 26, 2010 7:16 am

    I’m still wondering how you have time for pancakes on a school morning. Mine are up at 6:45, dressed by 7, eat cereal or a bagel and are out the door by 7:20. We save the pancakes for Saturdays.

    And yes. The calendar keeps on going. The kids keep on growing. I have trouble keeping up – and sometimes I just want to hold it all still to keep it from changing.

  3. August 26, 2010 7:48 am

    Easy — AJ generally wakes up around 6 and doesn’t have to leave until 8:15. Or later even. School starts at 8:45 and is a 10 minute walk from home. But weekday pancakes are definitely an unusual thing saved only for special occasions like the first day of school.

  4. freshhell permalink
    August 26, 2010 7:51 am

    Yep, the train keeps picking up speed.

  5. August 26, 2010 7:58 am

    Why oh why do younger kids go later and the older kids go earlier? My kids have to be out to door by 7:15.

    That’s an appropriately melancholy end of summer song. It might help me get the first lines of an old Dan Fogelberg song out of my head (late in the summer, when the cottonwood dies, the fields are on fire with green bottleflies…)

  6. freshhell permalink
    August 26, 2010 8:36 am

    Jeanne, I’ve been reading a number of articles recently about how nonsensical this is – that high school should start later than elementary school. My kids have to be at the end of the driveway to meet the bus at 7:45am. Which is reasonable. I leave for work as soon as the bus leaves. In college I failed a number of classes because they were held at 8:00am (which is insane no matter how you look at it) and I could not rouse myself from sleep to attend.

  7. August 26, 2010 8:40 am

    It is goofy. The elementary school starts at 8:45. The high school starts at 7:25.

  8. crankygirl permalink
    August 26, 2010 9:36 am

    Thanks for linking to Dar. Your trip to the lake sounds idyllic. I’m jealous. Today i’m jealous of anyone who slept more than 2 hours straight last night.

    Anyway, I hope AJ has a great first day.

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