The Relatives Came

“It was different, going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house.”  I love this line from Cynthia Rylant’s book, The Relatives Came.

When my family came to Vermont in August, I lay in bed listening to all that new breathing, overhead footsteps and muffled conversation.

They had come from the south, ready for a summer break from the heat and city life. Our home provided cool air and quiet alongside the darkened woods, nearby hiking trails and the Williams River with its roaring gorge and rocky swimming holes.

View up the hill

Up the hill from the house, out our bedroom window

We shared the cooking and clean-up and had wonderful gourmet meals each night, from lobster and pasta to Italian and seafood salads.

We can do this!

Emily and Dan prepared a wonderful Italian lobster and pasta dish.

The garden was producing tomatoes by the basket, a few green beans and wonderful herbs.

The local farmers’ markets filled in with cheeses and more vegetables.

Cheeses and breads from the markets

Trips to the New Hampshire liquor store and Shaw’s grocery kept the refrigerator full of wine and beer. One night our son Joe mixed martinis; his grandfather Joe would have been proud!

Joe leads Emily’s birthday celebration with sparklering Ginger Cake.

The weather was perfect for outdoor play and nighttime bonfires. Nearby Bromley Mountain provided a fun family day with great slides and adventures.  The indoor game of choice was Settlers of Catan, a new family favorite. Competition was keen, but all seemed to still be speaking the next morning!

Settlers of Catan carried on until after 1 am. Congrats to Virginia, the champion!

I love the preparation for company—cleaning the house, making up the beds, and best of all, adding those special touches of flowers, jugs of water and good reading material alongside the bedsides. If I am feeling it, I pray for their travel and their stay. After several days, I feel the need to pray even more keenly because I get tired and a bit less patient! An early night and a morning lie-in usually set that to right, or even better, a hug and a thank you.

After the last car pulled out of the driveway and the Amtrack train left the Bellows Falls station, I headed inside, feeling a little bit empty. I tossed the sheets into the wash, made a cup of coffee and sighed as the adrenalin low swept in. Later, as I hung the sheets on the line in the sunshine,  I relaxed with the sun on my back and gave thanks for this place in Vermont to share with family and friends. Later that evening, Ian and I enjoyed the leftovers and sat by the bonfire  admiring the stars and listening to the symphony of  insects.

Dinners and celebrations on the porch

Monday morning breakfast of Fried Green Tomatoes! Thank you Emily and Virginia!

Tomatoes and Green Beans from the garden




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4 responses to “The Relatives Came

  1. Mary Pierson

    Hi Polly, I loved this newsy family report and all the joyful pictures. i am so thankful you had this good time before you head south. with love and prayers, Mary

  2. Love the notes and pictures! – especially THE ginger cake and the tomatoes. Underhill was a lot colder and we never were able to get ripe tomatoes, A killing frost in early June and cool August nights just didn’t help. I had insisted that the three cats were to stay outside BUT Jack let them in the first night it got chilly – like Labor Day which meant that I had to learn to like kitty cats. In his favor I will say that he kept his promise to take care of the litter boxes and it wasn’t until he was out of the house (27 years later) that I had to start taking care of that chore.; Nat was the only child at home by that time and I wasn’t about to have him start that. How is Jado?

    • Hi Phyllis, Yes, I almost wrote “Phyllis’ Ginger Cake”, but I thought readers would wonder who Phyllis was! I was hoping you would note that it was THE ginger cake!!! Jado is doing well at Joe and Virginia’s apartment. He and Virginia’s cat Dante love each other and cuddle up together. They are both huge! Yes, I even canned tomatoes this year! I was sooo pleased. We are packing this week and I will be sad to leave Vermont. It has been a lovely summer. I will write a blog showing pictures of the August yard etc. Good to hear from you and to hear that you are feeling better this year (e-mail to Ian). I have passed on Comfort with Apples to a friend who loves to cook and read about food. Joe and Virginia are coming up for the weekend. We will try out a new horse farm’s trail ride today! I love horses and riding and this will be a fun hour of trails in the woods and along some meadows. I bet I will be sore tomorrow! Tally ho! Love, Polly

  3. Hi Polly. Loved this blog! I was looking forward to your visit in October but now I’m worried about the night noises! Al has noted your equstrian interest and will try to have a horse ready for you. We are passing through San Fransisco over the weekend, and will be home next week. Tomatoes are on the top of my to do list. See you soon…….
    Love, Jenny

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