The Road to Summer


I love this view.

Not so much for what it shows us now but for what it represents.

I’ve never walked down this particular path but I know that there lies, under the snow, a dirt road.

And that road leads to summer.

Roads like this exist all over the North Country. In the winter, they are never plowed, no one ventures there.

But at the end of all the roads, you can still see that glimpse of what’s to come. That blue at the end of the path? That’s lake and sky . . . and the promise of summer

Come May, maybe Memorial Day, after the snow is long gone and the mud has dried out, those dirt roads will beckon under canopies of new green. That blue sky and lake at the end will draw family members back to “camp.”

I’ve never seen the specific camp at the end of this path but I have a very good idea what it looks like. Small, with a couple of added-on rooms that were probably poorly planned and done by workers lacking skill. There’s probably indoor plumbing and running water but that, too, is a recent addition.

There won’t be heat in this building because it’s never needed—the small house is used only in summer. The rooms are small and probably dark but no one spends any time inside anyway. A large screened-in porch provides a transition to outside and maybe a spot for sleeping during really hot nights.

The yard is where the action is. In the yard you’ll find picnic tables and Adirondack chairs, quite possibly a hammock. And a jumble of summer toys—kayaks, canoes, water skis. A fire pit, for sure, and a big grill for cooking.

On winter days, when it’s really quiet, I can walk past the end of this dirt road and hear the sounds of summer. The buzz of the jet skis, the hollering of kids as they splash in the lake, the calls of “how do you want your burger done?”

We don’t have a long dirt driveway at our house and our house, now, is a year-round home, with all the mod cons.

But we strive to preserve the feeling of “camp” and days when family and friends gather, the days are long and mellow, the music lifts us, the food and drink sustain us. We look to the days when our short asphalt driveway transforms into the essence of a long dirt road—that leads to summer.

48 thoughts on “The Road to Summer

  1. I love the stillness of the photo,something that I do miss about not having much snow. Oh, and Camp time… Mentioning those burgers … wish I had one! Delightful post.

  2. We don’t have those dirt lanes around here, but I think I get your visions of summer. We’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, which I’m excited about. We were going to drive all the way to WA to see Son, but he called last evening and suggested a different plan for visiting him. Okay. I guess we are flexible! Lovely essay, Kerry. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lovely photo…lovely post.

    The snow has all melted here and the snowdrops are in bloom out by the barn. I’ve started working in the yard and already picked the first tick off my hand. Spring will arrive in less than a month and this is my favorite time of the year.

    • Thanks, Susan! Our snow is mostly gone now, too, but we had WILD wind and waves yesterday! We have this big storage bin near the lake, where were put outdoor cushions and fans we occasionally need. We weigh the top down with an old, very heavy fireplace grate. The whole thing blew across the yard, strewing contents all the way!

  4. Great writing! You brought back to my mind the summer houses of my life and youth in northern Wisconsin. I particularly remember the screened in sleeping rooms with the beds all lined up for visiting family.

  5. I have a photo that’s so similar to this that for a moment I thought it was mine. I love my photo because it represents the best of winter: the fresh clear air, the unspoilt natural surroundings. Now I’ve read your post, I love what your photo means for you. May ‘camp’ deliver all you hope for this summer!

    • You’re right–that is the look of winter at its best. We had about 15 inches in one storm and it was gorgeous–but I was too big a weenie to go out in the bitter cold and take more photos!

      • Having read you latest comment on my latest post, I can quite understand why. Before I saw it, I’d entertained the smallest suspicion that you might be a bit of a wuss. No longer!

  6. On reading your title I had a moment of panic – but my summer has only just arrived …… But it’s true we are entering the time of change, the leaves on the trees are just starting to dry out, the wild grasses are just starting to tinge with yellow….. It took until half way through February for summer to arrive this year. I’m hoping she will stick around until the end of April at least, but I’m prepared for her earlier departure. You have such a lovely way to look at reality and see what will come from it. Much admired Kerry! ❤

    • I was thinking that it must be starting to look a little like autumn at your place–it all goes so quickly! And just like you had an odd summer, our winter has been very peculiar–very warm, in general!

      • Apart from the deep green becoming a lighter shade on the trees and some conkers forming on the chestnut trees we walk beneath every day, there are no signs….. Or at least none that I am willing to notice 🙂 Though last night I had to pull my cotton throw over me in bed, it’s just been a sheet the last three weeks.

  7. I do love this post and your wonderfully evocative writing, Kerry! There is such a feeling of yearning and longing for summer about it. And summer means camp and family-time and belonging – with all the memories of summers past. This isn’t a British tradition, as you know, but it is something we know about from the imported films and TV series we have watched over the years. Some families manage to do it here, because many of our sea-side towns and picturesque villages are full of cottages that are ‘second homes’ or houses for summer rental. This has come about only recently with greater wealth for some. Many of us have a go at a family-and/or-friends-together holiday with varying amounts of success. I’m not sure that we have the right temperament for it.
    I love that you have used this snowy track as a portal to better times, past and future.

    • It’s so interesting to me that our very similar cultures are so different, too! Actually, I’m sure I could say the same about different regions of the US–I am certain that this attitude toward summer in a northern thing–so many parts of our country have pretty much perpetual summer. The family/camp/summer thing is very important to lots of people. Down the road, there’s a “family compound”–a bunch of very small camps on the same piece of lakefront–togetherness, with some privacy!

      • I am sure you are right about it being a northern thing, Kerry. Many Scandinavians and Russians have summer homes too. It is probably being an insular island race living on an over-crowded island that make the British less likely to have family summer homes. What I do find strange is so many of us rush off to Spain and pack ourselves onto beaches with thousands of other tourists!

  8. Kerry, thanks again for sharing your writing talents with us. This post has a wonderful spirit of anticipation, and helps me to look forward to my new and different summer. Today was a tough day and this was very uplifting. Thank you, friend!

      • Things are calming down a bit, and there have been some touching moments….some of my volunteers actually got together to consider “storming the university president’s office.” They finally decided no after a retiree explained a few things, but it was a sweet gift none the less! The word is now officially out, so I think that will lift things a little.

      • It will be very new, to actually have a life during the summer! I am camping on that while I get through the these next two weeks. My volunteers have been so wonderful to me the past few days, they have made me so proud of them. What amazing, dedicated folks!!!

  9. Beautiful photo, although I do not know how you restrained yourself from joyfully making footprints in all that pristine snow – perhaps that’s what you did after taking the picture!! 🙂

  10. I love this, Kerry– photo, words and all. Beautiful.
    Maybe we are dreamers. I always like paths through the woods, anticipating that they lead to Summer of one kind or another.

    I also just noticed two ‘word’ differences between your region and ours. We (and most Canadians) say “cottage”, but you, other Americans (?) and some Canadians (Manitobans, I think) say “camp”. We say “garden” and you say “yard”.

  11. Having “real” winters with so many layers of snow must make the transition to spring so much more exciting! I am ready, there are snowdrops and crocuses growing all over the parks near me. I’m not sure how you can pass up the opportunity to make footprints in that virgin snow!

    • “Real” winter really does make one appreciate spring all the more, I think. And I had already made footprints in a lot of virgin snow that day, shoveling my own driveway!

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