My Small World and a Trip to the Past

They say it’s a small world.

In 1937 my father bought a house on Lake Sunapee, in the Town of Newbury. During my childhood we spent our summers there, sixteen miles from our house in Claremont. In those summers I learned to swim, fish, handle a boat, and catch frogs. I used to jump off the boathouse roof into the lake.

My mother sold the house when I was in college, and I never went back. Yet I carry that cottage in my mind to this day—its look, its smell, its sprawling front porch with a chaise lounge, a green glider, and a hammock suspended from the ceiling.

When the time came for me to look for a vacation house, twenty years ago, I didn’t consider Lake Sunapee. As the saying goes, you can’t go home again. Or maybe you can.

I was at a conference in Florida a few years ago and ran into an acquaintance named Eve, who lives in New York. She was there with her family, and we struck up a conversation by the pool. I mentioned being from New Hampshire. She asked where and I told her Claremont. She asked if I knew Syd Jarvis, and I said that I did, our families knew each other in the 50’s. “We go to New Hampshire in the summer,” said Eve, “and Syd is like a member of our family.” Where do you go?” I asked. “Lake Sunapee,” she replied. “That’s a coincidence. We had a place there when I was young.”

“Where was it?” Eve asked. I told her it was near the State Park Beach. She nodded. “How did you get there?” I gave the directions—past the entrance to the beach, up the road about a mile, on the right.

“Who were your neighbors?” was the next question. I remembered them very well—the Holmes family. Eve’s expression changed. “Was your house before or after their house?” “Right after their house, the very next one,” I answered.

Eve paused, smiled, and said, “That’s my house.”

The next summer we spent a day there with Eve and her family. My father would have been pleased. Apart from some tasteful refurbishing, it looked exactly as it did the last time I was there, in the early 60’s, which was how it had looked in the late 30’s. And it felt the same.

We stepped out on the porch. I looked out across the lake; the beautiful unspoiled landscape on the other side also had not changed. Then I saw Eve’s young son, running across the boathouse roof towards the water.

I guess they’re right. It is a small world.

2017-05-19T20:27:32+00:00 By |