For over 25 years, my grandmother and my aunt owned and ran a summer camp on a lake in New Hampshire. Not a lot of people know this about my family history. It’s why every summer I return to the northeastern states of America- just in case you were wondering why a girl who lives in London, but calls South Carolina home, would choose to spend her summers in Maine and NH. While the camp closed before I was in kindergarten, the actual camp mentality never left our summers with my grandparents. Every year we’d return to the “camp,” where cabins remained, the boat house still stood with kayaks and more, and the main “lodge” was where we’d start and finish the day. My cousins and I would do everything from play tennis to practice archery as if we were day campers and our grandmother was our camp counsellor. I have so many memories there, from making s’mores to riding my first horse. But, there’s one memory I’ll cherish above all else. Even up until I was in my thirties, I would lay in the cabins up on the hill late at night, and listen to the most glorious sound ever – loons on the lake. They would cry out from all over and I swear it was the only thing that could get me to sleep. I’d come back to the city after a summer on the lake and I’d have severe insomnia because the little birds weren’t singing my nightly lullaby.
When my grandmother became ill, this special place lost a bit of its shine. There’s no sugarcoating that growing old is a tough game. Sure, it’s one thing we all have to do, but some are blessed in how they progress and others are left battling terrible things like stroke recovery and Alzheimers. In my last weeks with my grandmother at camp, I can remember she had a hard time placing so much – people, things, time in general. But, no matter how bad she got, there was always one thing that would bring her back to the moment – the loons. The songs the loons would sing on the lake were for her. She would sit in a chair overlooking the water and smile as their sounds became louder and louder the closer they got to the shore. That never changed, ever.
I hadn’t thought about the loons in ages. It’s too hard to go back to the lake now, so it’s not something that would randomly come to mind one afternoon. But, while I was shopping the other day, I came across this sweater, the one you see me wearing herewith. I knew I would buy it before I laid one finger on it. But, it’s amazing to me how flooded with memories and emotions I was in seeing this piece. I purchased it, brought it home and wore it on the first night I owned it. And I couldn’t think of a better place to wear it, for the first time, than in the house my grandmother summered-in her whole life, on the coast of Maine. She was a tough cookie, my grandmother, and even tougher when it came to clothing. I’m pretty damn certain, however, that she’d give full approval for layering in the first chill of autumn with a full loon moment! This one’s for you, nana!
What I’m Wearing: