The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
The terns are busy fishing in tidal pools as we walk across the Cove with our departing children for a final time.
We bid farewell not just to them but to the carefree exuberance of summer, to joyful reunions and reluctant partings, spontaneous house guests, and fridges filled with mysterious left-overs; trips to walk-in clinics for sudden bumps and ailments; fireworks, cook-outs and sing-alongs. Farewell to sweet green peas in the pod, squeaky yellow beans, delicate leaf lettuce, crisp dark spinach, fresh dill, spicy radishes, and tender baby beets and greens; to fresh strawberry pie, fuzzy Ontario peaches, enormous Washington cherries, and watermelon so cold it hurts your teeth; to soft ice cream dripping down your arm, iced tea, popsicles, and frozen mint chocolate pie.
Farewell to babies splashing in warm tidal pools, to frisbees, sandy potato chips, hermit crab races, dead jellyfish baking on the beach, tank tops and flip flops and salty beach towels that never dry; to fat lazy house flies, ubiquitous fruit flies, ants in the bathtub, dehumidifiers going full tilt, frost building up in the deep freezer, and summer shoes building up by the door; wet shower stalls, toothbrushes in odd places, tents in the back yard, and sand in the bed sheets.
Farewell to hummingbirds buzzing by your ear, cedar waxwings (drunk on honeysuckle berries) flying into the windows, and grackles pooping on lawn furniture. Farewell to ditches overflowing with delicate bedstraw and Queen Anne’s lace waving gracefully like an old friend, to the deluge of daylilies and plethora of poppies, to rose petals drifting gently onto the grass, to hawkweed, St. John’s wort, lacy wild carrots, fireweed, dandelions.
Now with the days growing noticeably shorter it’s “Hello!” to wasps buzzing around the picnic table at the first sign of food; to juicy red tomatoes and BLT sandwiches for lunch every day; plums and late raspberries; chanterelles appearing magically overnight in the undergrowth; purple asters, goldenrod and nasturtiums; dry rattling poplar leaves and a hint of red in forest canopies. Hello to the unmistakable drone of school buses, to potato harvesters and combines, to sensible shoes, long pants, and faithful old woolen sweaters.
Life is a continual story of meetings and partings, arrivals and departures, and changing seasons. Fortunately most things in life are comfortably predictable. Smelts will make their way upstream next spring. There will be another Strawberry Social next summer. This fall people will stack their firewood, and in winter they will burn it.
We’ve been living here long enough to have a sense of continuity and we treasure this. Down at the shore the tides continue to rise and fall as sea creatures move through their life cycles. The terns that bob in the tidal pools may be the same terns that were bobbing there last year, because terns can live for many decades. Soon they will be heading south, but when they return next year we will welcome them, as we welcome all our summer visitors, with open arms. “Hello hello!”