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We spent the last few weeks of August going back and forth to Maine. The workdays went by fast and then the weekends were lazy.  In Maine there was mini golf and big dinners, goofing around in the yard and nap attacks, cousins and grandparents, candles and stories on the porch, laughing until we nearly fell over, and fog. And the beach. The beach could be a post in and of itself. We went down the hill to the water two or three times a day, high tide, low tide, sunset.

The Boy discovered the magic of a candle-lit porch after dinner, sitting up late with the grownups. My dad taught him to blow a long, ghostly whistle on cupped hands; after he went to bed we talked about old music and played snippets of Tom Rush and Gordon Lightfoot off YouTube. My mom knit, curled up in the chair with her feet tucked to the side, the way she often does.

The last night we were there the fog rolled off the ocean and up the street and we could see it coming as it blurred the trees and neighbors’ houses. The Boy put on his new finger lights and we went down the hill to the lighthouse, streaks of light zig-zagging off his fingers. I set the camera exposure to night landscape and told him to swing his arms, and he laughed to see the arc of light captured in the pictures.

There isn’t really a soft landing from vacation; there is fresh milk to buy and laundry to do and a lunch box to pack for school. But there is excitement, too: The Boy started kindergarten. He did so well at drop off! Better than his teary-eyed parents and sister. When I picked The Boy up at the end of the day, he was quiet for a minute or two and then pronounced in a firm, thoughtful voice, “Mama, I like kindergarten.” Relief.

So we’re back. Maine is still with me, though. I have my flip-flop tan, and fabrics and thrift shop linens to play with, and little pockets of sand that keep sifting out of the bottom of bags and kid shoes. I saw a tiny, old doll bed and quilt in an antique store; that small and meticulously stitched quilt has me thinking about patterns and color combinations and pulling out blankets as the temperatures start to fall.