Firtst day of vacation

We had some ambitious plan to be all packed on Friday night and then cast off to Maine early in the morning for our first day of vacation. But then other things intervened. We had dinner Friday evening on the other side of Boston with current and ex-colleagues from long ago. We indulged in multiple trips down memory lane and lots of gossip, mostly of the benign kind. By the time we got back home packing was out of the question.

Then I learned about the appearance of no less than two ‘Strandbeests’ at Crane’s Beach, a warm up for the Peabody and Essex Museum’s upcoming feature of the Dutch creator of these wind-driven installations. Axel  learned of a childhood friend’s death and memorial service also on Saturday morning. No early cast off thus.

The Strandbeest demo on a real beach rather than on videos or in a museum seemed too good an opportunity to pass and worth postponing our departure. I was disappointed. As underwhelming as the demo (and creatures) were, the success of the PR strategy which had included traditional and social media had  overwhelmed the small roads leading to the beach. The ride from Manchester to the beach parking lot, usually a 20 minute ride, took one hour and a fifteen dollar parking fee, discounted because I am a PEM member.

Thousands of people were already on the beach and thousands more streaming in, to see the installations in motion. They were not as large as the Strandbeest I had seen in action on the long Dutch beaches on video, and their walk was limited to five meters forward and then being dragged back again from the edge of the water onto the beach – that’s how the wind was blowing. The ‘beests’ weren’t as alive and lively as the one I had seen in the videos.

Axel’s experience had been more moving than mine, celebrating a life that had braided New England and Sicilian families into a tight knit community of mourners. He came home with a deep appreciation that we all make our own lives in the company of others, rather than being individuals who happen to have had good luck or bad luck in life.

We packed till mid-afternoon and finally set off when Sita texted us with the question whether we had arrived. As it turned out, the late departure was smart. The traffic of holiday makers had eased and we were in Boothbay four hours faster than last year when we had left in the morning.

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August 2015
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