Some people mark the end of summer with school starting. Others, by the cool crisp evening breezes that encourage you to snuggle up under an extra blanket. I have come to know the end of summer by bidding farewell to my friend Robert.
It seems a paradox that though summer seems long, it is also so short yet somehow, Robert and I can accomplish a lot in those short weeks between June 26th and August 16th, though it still doesn't seem long enough. I have watched as the sun has bleached his brown hair to blond and tanned his hide but good. I notice the changes that being up in God's country with fresh air and a spring fed lake and plenty of sunshine bring, especially to someone like Robert.
Robert is very bright and even a little charming. He is a builder, a hunter, a dreamer, a do-er. He is not afraid to speak his mind and he has a winning smile that is forever changing like him. He makes the long journey from Jacksonville Florida up to Wilson Lake in Acton Maine every year stopping along the way to visit relatives and have adventures. Often when I first see him, I am startled by how he has changed and yet, how he's still the Robert I know and love.
I like to cook for him as he is not afraid to show how he feels about what has been put in front of him, whether it's steak, which this year was a new favorite or the first batch of pancakes I made this year which turned out less than good. He has a filter but I love that he is free to share his feelings and insights and opinions.
This year was a particularly good year for Robert and I as I spent more time "up-ta" camp then I have in the past. It allowed more time for just the two of us. He has helped me to pick blueberries and has complimented each muffin I have made him, regardless of the fact that the blueberries outweigh the muffin batter by 2:1. We have caught frogs of all sizes and built fairy houses. We've tooled around in the paddle boat and floated effortlessly in the cool water of Wilson Lake. Always the hunter, he wore his mask to dive down and explore the lake below us and then up he would pop and share the secrets he found beneath the water's surface. He is also one of the best marshmallow roasters I have ever met and that's saying quite a lot since I am, myself, a roasted marshmallow officionado.
He has gifted me with all sorts of beautiful stones and rocks found on the way from his camp to ours and along the waters edge and has even helped me find just the right spot to "showcase" my gems. One year he brought me a pair of bright turquoise knock-off KEDs that he found at the free desk at the waste facility. He thought they were pretty and they were practically new and just knew they were for me. I didn't have the heart to tell him they were 2 sizes too big.
Robert comes up every year with his dad Ron and has a summer full of adventures before going home to do some more growing, learning, living. I've been watching him grow and change for the past 3 summers and can truly say that this boy is one special fella. He has already outgrown the first bike his dad got him up here and his swimming has improved so much that he is up to the "Guppy" level at the Y. But the little leather vest, tie dyed shirt and crocs he lives in, haven't been grown out of yet (although the jeans from earlier this year had gotten so small that they needed to have a duct tape belt to hold them shut). This year I was even able to see him outgrow some of his teeth.
I enjoy witnessing this beautiful child make his way through his small world, his small world that each day gets just a bit bigger. I like to think of the memories I hope I am helping this adventurer make of his summers spent up at the lake in Maine. Perhaps he will write a book one day and I will be mentioned as the lady who would play Monopoly with him or who had him over for his first sleep over away from his folks. Maybe he'll remember the day when we both saw the craziest Pig formed by the fluffy white clouds above us, at the same time.
I watched him yesterday as he gathered up his water guns, airplanes, frog bucket he left at my house. I asked him to keep in touch and he said he would. He knows how to Skype he reminded me.He walked down our dock and boarded his paddle boat with his mom and dad. They said good bye but I noticed my friend was uncharacteristically quiet.
My friend Robert left for Florida today. It must be fall.