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Friday, July 21, 2017

I had a "moment" this evening as I was sitting on our new deck watching night fall.  It was a bird calling in the dimness of  the woods across the road, and just a hint of some familiar scent in the air that took me back to when I was a kid.  It was after a hot day like today, some 70 years ago - after my cousins and I had rounded up the cows from the hill pasture on the Plain and herded them to the barn for milking, and then, after supper we'd put on our bathing suits, grab towels and hike down to the pond for a swim.  

We had to cross Wilbur Ewen's land (the Ewen farm was where Mike and Barb Pupino live now, and included all of Sandy Beach Road area, Helen Morrison's and where Encarnacion's lived, as well as where we live now) to get to the beach, now part of either  George and Pat Parizo's shoreline or that of Richard and Carmen Gagne.  It was the only sandy beach along that shore, and there was a wide marsh between the hay field and the berm of stones at the water's edge.  We had a walkway of single boards from one hummock to the next, and alders along the shore except for where the beach was.  That was clear - probably from all the feet that had trod there over the years.  Everyone I knew came there to swim - or at least to wade and cool off on hot summer days.  I don't think many of our neighborhood kids knew how to swim.  Not many came  in the evening, like we did, either.  Above is a typical "day at the pond" probably in the 1920s, in a big old rowboat at that sandy beach spot.  The next picture shows what the beach looked like then - probably about 1937 or 1938.  Yep, that's me, "farmer's tan," boyish bobbed hair and all.  Notice the big island in the background.

As the sun disappeared behind the hill, we would head back up the hill, hurrying to get home before dark.  That was when we paid attention to the night sounds - birds settling, a tree frog trilling, the sound of automobiles on Route 2, or a motorboat on the pond.  And there was the smell of newly mowed hay and the pungent wet earth smell of the pasture where our young cattle were.  The pasture was where Randall's house is now, directly across from where our house is now.  The cattle, a friendly bunch, responded readily to our "Come boss! Come boss!" and would follow along the fence until we turned up the road that went up the hill from where our mailbox is now - a short route to the farm, open only in the summer.  They would stand by the fence, watching us out of sight, probably wondering why they didn't get something more than a pat on their noses after being called.

There was a big beechnut tree a little way up the road and we would break off a twig and chew the minty bark as we trudged along in our wet bathing suits.  I imagine we arrived home as dusty and hot as we'd been before we plunged into the pond.  At the top of the hill the road was no longer tree-lined, but ran between wide open, newly cut hay fields.  Our big barn loomed on the side hill  ahead of us, and we could see the lights of home, the Maynard's farm and the Desmaris farm across the fields past the Plains School on the road to Cabot Village.  There were different sounds here - a mooing cow, a dog barking, crickets in the grass beside the road.  The woodsy odors changed to the smell of hay and the lingering heat of the day. 

My cousins climbed turned up the driveway to my grandparents' and I continued the short distance down to our house.  We'd be up early the next morning to do interesting things all day - and if it was hot, go swimming in the pond again that evening. 






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