Late afternoon on Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine
The time finally came, we knew it would but we tried not to dwell on it, that time when your only child goes off to college and leaves you and your spouse alone for the first time in nearly two decades.
It wasn’t a given, Wynn wanted to study industrial design and there are several good schools right here in Philadelphia that offer it. I suppose I always imagined he’d go to one of the local schools and live at home for at least the next few years but Wynn wanted to go to RISD and damn if he didn’t get accepted!
Reid Beach State Park
Move in day was Sept. 6th so we decided to spend a week visiting our friends Peter and Meagan and their sons Dae and Noah who live in Maine and another week camping in Acadia National Park then move Wynn into his dorm room in Providence, RI on our way back home.
We were joined in Maine by our friends Marlene and Stephen and their son Louis and daughter Maureen who live in Germany. We had visited them last summer spending time in Freiberg, visiting Berlin and then riding bicycles to the town of Usedom on the Baltic Sea.
Pete had introduced us to Marlene and Stephan over twenty years ago when we all lived in West Philadelphia.Wynn and Louis were born just a few months apart and had played together when they were toddlers. Marlene, Stephan and Louis moved backed to Germany after Marlene was offered a position at The University of Freiberg.
Echo Lake, Acadia National Park
We would spend the first week at Pete’s, making day trips that would include hanging out at local beaches, shopping and dining in the nearby town of Bath, visiting Pete’s mother Natalie, who lives by the Kennebec River and taking a ferry to the island of Vinalhaven. Then we packed the van and headed north to Acadia.
It was a scenic, three-hour drive from Woolwich to Acadia where we would pitch our tents at the Blackwoods campground. Each day consisted of hiking one of the many trails followed by a swim in the cold water of the Atlantic off Sand Beach or in the slightly warmer water of Echo Lake which is located on what the locals call “The Quite Side” of the Island.
First day at RISD
The last leg our journey involved driving to Providence and helping Wynn set up his dorm room and assemble his bicycle before attending the official RISD welcome for first year students held in the historic First Baptist Church. There were several speakers including President Rosanne Somerson who at the close of her remarks told us to meet our son or daughter on the lawn for ice cream, then tell them goodbye, adding “They are ours now.”
It’s only been three weeks since we dropped Wynn off and so far so good. He seems to like it there and it sounds like they’re keeping him pretty busy. He is even considering joining the RISD cycling team. He calls or texts everyday, let’s see how long that lasts, and we will be going up to visit in October for Parent’s weekend.
I had a dream last week where I was working the backyard and I heard him call out “Hey!” and I turned to see him walking up the steps from the street so yeah, I guessI miss him.
I console myself with fact that Wynn is where he wants to be and doing what he wants to do. I also know he will fit right in with all the other artsy, fartsy weirdos at RISD. I also remember the words of a friend who is also the parent of a son who went away to college, “With summer break, spring break and all the holidays they’ll still be home six months of the year anyway.”
First Day at RISD, Courtyard outside the dorm.
Oh and did I mention Wynn left us with several hundred thousand honeybees and eight chickens?
If you have had a son or daughter go off to college, or are a student away from home for the first time leave a comment and let me know how you dealt, or are dealing with the transition.
As usual, I woke up early the next morning. I assumed, no one had pressed the red button, or if they had, Nova Scotia had been spared. I got dressed and grabbed my camera to go out and do some shooting. I knew I’d have a few hours before Lori and Chris were up and ready to go out for breakfast.
Despite gray skies and heavy fog, I set off on my bicycle back toward town. On the way to the motel, the night before, I had noticed a side road that looked liked it would lead to the coast where I would surely find some photographic fodder. I was not disappointed. The road led to a harbor of weather beaten buildings and derelict boats. For these subjects, the less than ideal weather, worked in my favor, adding a sense of foreboding and mystery.
As the sun rose in the sky, the fog began to lift. Satisfied with the images I had made, I was ready to head back to the motel. The great thing about touring on a bicycle is that you can stop the moment something catches your eye, like orange fisherman’s gloves hanging from a clothes line. As I was taking the shot from the side of the road, a woman appeared at the screen door, looking a little puzzled. I lowered my camera and pointed to the gloves. She stuck her head out the door, looked at the clothesline, nodded in acknowledgment and went back inside.
I stopped once more to photograph two men laying fish out to dry and two other men talking next to a forklift. While the people I meet were gracious they all seemed a bit melancholy.
Later, while having breakfast at a restaurant we learned that four teenagers, two boys and two girls, had been swept out to sea the night before. The couples had climbed out onto the rocks at Forchu lighthouse to watch the waves during the height of the storm. All four were from Yarmouth and had just graduated from high school.
Being a small town, the tragedy struck Yarmouth hard. Much of the population was related in some way to one of victims or had known at least one of them. Suddenly, we felt out of place, vacationing in a town in mourning. We decided to return to Bar Harbor on the next ferry. From there we would head North to Acadia National Park.
Sky Glider at sunset, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, California
Here’s one from the archive. Taken at sunset at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. My wife’s best friend from college, Pooz, had moved to California after graduation. They stayed in touch via telephone, emails and exchanged gifts on birthdays and for the holidays. It’s one of those rare friendships that survive both time and distance. My best friend Peter and his family also moved to California so when it was time to plan our summer vacation, it was not hard to pick a destination. We’d spend the first week visiting Pete and his family near Los Angeles, then head north along the coast to visit Pooz. We spent one day with Pooz and her partner, Brent, riding the rides and strolling the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Pooz, had told our son Wynn, we were going to a lecture on global warming, and though he was okay with that, he was pleasantly surprised when he realized we were going to the boardwalk instead. So was I. It was a vacation after all.