Looking through these photos from our Memorial Day, I realized we are creatures of habit, season by season performing the same rituals without clear recognition or intent. A few years pass by and we realize we’ve created unintentional traditions. I’m kinda’ glad they exist.
We seem to have a similar record of events each time we do a little day trip. Hit the shoreline, fine some good seafood at a little roadside stand, hunt down an independent bookstore. Sit on the banks of some body of water and knit while a breeze beckons. Explore a museum and tuck in a little history along the way. Find an ice cream shop and enjoy a little bit of sweetness in the late afternoon. And then, last of all, maybe best of all, find a little bay-side beach facing westward and watch as the sun goes gently down.
We do have a tradition that we put a little more effort into. A few nights each week at suppertime, we all get a turn to state two things- what the worst part of our day was, and what our favorite part of the day was. We go around the table and each share a small thing. It’s a very effective way to learn things about each other, and rarely stops at just those two points. We laugh, and sometimes we cry, but we always end up knowing a little something more about each other by the end of the night. On the ride home from Mystic, we fumbled around when we had to find a least favorite part of our day. It was uneventful in the fact that nothing grandiose or of great import happened, but it was so easy to pick lots of favorites from the day.
We stood on the banks of the Mystic River, heard fife and drum in a little historic parade, saw a memorial wreath-laying into the brackish water. We heard Taps being played by skilled musicians, echoing back from boat stern to riverbank as we watched the wreath float down the river. (Maybe one of us tried not to cry.) We did what we often do, strolling in and out of buildings, taking pictures, learning things we didn’t know before. We saw the Charles W. Morgan restoration again, one month away from her re-introduction to the sea. We stood there and heard sea shantys sung, felt the intensity of history seep up through the planks. Joel and I sat waiting for Paul and Connor and Nora to go through one of the more time-consuming exhibits, me knitting on the banks of the Mystic River as he sat next to me and just relaxed, every so often a comment or question escaping his brain. I keep thinking about that little time we spent, just the two of us sitting in early evening sunshine by the water, this young man who was just yesterday a little boy– and I think that was my favorite part of the day. I don’t remember what we even talked about, but I am so glad for the time to just be there, quiet and comfortable, together.
We rummaged through Mystic Books in late afternoon, Connor and Nora both finding something they liked and I finding some writing paper that suited my fancy. Paul and Joel browsed and found themselves immersed before they had time to decide on purchases. That’s a tradition, too, I suppose. We headed over to Stonington Borough, admired the widows’ watches, the New England architecture revealing itself at every turn. We stopped at the tiny little beach at the end of the road, taking just 15 minutes to enjoy the saturated evening light before we headed home to start the week.
It was a really good day.