When SPF 70 can’t keep the summer from soaking your skin

This much credit I deserve: I applied and reapplied sunscreen for what seemed like all weekend. But I confess, I’m finding it hard to regret the sunsoaked, warm-to-the touch, reddish-brown tinged skin currently covering my arms, legs and face.

Field trip to the beach!
Field trip to the beach!

I am not a native New Englander. I have never pretended to be. I don’t drink Dunkin’ Donuts. I only use terminal “R”s in words that actually include the letter “R”. And until this weekend, I had never spent a summer weekend at someone’s family beach house. But a couple weeks ago, some friends of ours asked if we’d like to join them at an ancestral beach house over the weekend. I was figuring it would be about the same degree of luxury as camping, but why not! Sign me up! I mean, I’ve wanted to go camping with friends for years!

Oh, how low were my expectations. How high were they exceeded! It felt wonderfully New England, as though I might finally starting to be more than a tourist of unusually long duration, to be headed South towards the Cape on a Saturday morning. Of course, in true New England style, there was terrible traffic on 93. We did not finish the typical route, eschewing the Bourne Bridge and Sagamore Rotary to head further South, to Buzzard’s Bay. Specifically, to the West Island State Reservation.

The sunset was gloriousl
The sunset was gloriousl

The Reservation is, more or less, an island connected to the mainland by a brief and sandy causeway. There are a few streets worth of small houses – cottages – on the reservation on the West side. The East side is, well, reserved. The house in question was right up against a private beach, in the first row of houses. Back in the 50s, after a major hurricane (Edna, perhaps?), a long-sighted ancestor of our friends purchased the house for a very low price. Of course, the price was so low since the house was in the middle of the road. But he was, quite obviously, a skilled mason. He returned it to the correct location, and built it up with thick stones so it seems unlikely to move again. It was a very cozy, friendly, three bedroom cabin with a superb view of the water, a long lawn and steps down to a shallow pebbly cove with extremely warm water.

There are some moments that are just perfect. Neck deep in warm salty water, surrounded by friends and laughing children, watching sailing ships on the horizon… that counts as perfect. The sea breezes through the cabin were perfect for sleeping. The friends and conversations were a delight. Late on a summer night, I sat at a table with my husband, my son and my friends and we played a board game.

Castle Panic, well after Grey's bedtime. He did an awesome job.
Castle Panic, well after Grey's bedtime. He did an awesome job.

There were rematches of Trollhalla, shared cups of coffee on breezy back porches overlooking sparkling waters, conversations in bouyant warm waters, the delight of children playing, swimming and laughing, and home made Whoopie Pies. (You’re missing out.) And at the end of it, there was the kiss of sunshine on my cheeks and shoulders.

It was absolutely everything I might want a weekend to be.


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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

3 thoughts on “When SPF 70 can’t keep the summer from soaking your skin”

  1. Nice! When I was in hawaii last week, an old Chinese guy came up to me on the beach and said, “you’re not from around here, I can tell you’re from the mainland, you’re WHITE. I mean, REALLY REALLY WHITE.” I just smiled and said, “yep, I am!” He then regaled the man from the reef conservation effort at the university with a description of which reef fish were tasty and which ones weren’t. Came back lobster red from the burn I got…oh well 🙂


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