Passion Points: Family
The magic of summer is a well-documented, agreed-upon fact. No season brings with it such promise of sunshine, long days and laid-back relaxation with family and friends. Patricia Beard’s recently published novel, A Certain Summer, set in a fictional summer colony called Wauregan, has everything: love, loss, the angst of growing up and the importance of community. Beard shares with Indagare her favorite family-friendly retreats, her own summer traditions and where she is escaping to for the hotter months.
How do you describe your new book, A Certain Summer?
The story takes place in a summer colony where “nothing has changed in four generations.” As it is set in 1948, shortly after World War II, quite a lot has changed beneath the surface, but the tradition of multi-generational families returning to a place where they have a long history holds the community together.
What is your earliest summer memory?
Catching tadpoles in Maine when I was about four, and hoping they would grow into frogs. (They didn’t.)
What summer traditions do you and your family have?
Bonfires and cookouts on the beach with friends.
Aside from A Certain Summer, what other books about summer do you recommend?
Two of my favorites, which convey the sense of summers in special places are Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons; Leeway Cottage and More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon
Where are you planning to spend the summer?
In July, we’ll be in France: first in the Loire Valley, then the French Pyrenees, then Paris. In August we’ll be on a small New England island, where we have been going for three generations.
Are there communities the fictional “Wauregan” was based on?
I have spent years going to communities like the fictional “Wauregan”, but most of them are organized around clubs. The following favorites convey the same sense of an unchanging world, where families enjoy time together and even the most deluxe provide a natural, friendly hospitality that is a refuge from the busy world—and none of them require joining a club to enjoy the feeling of community.
- Luxury on the Beach: Ocean House, Westerly, RI On a bluff overlooking its own beach, the sunny yellow Ocean House is the ultimate in family-friendly luxury. Rebuilt as a replica of the grand Victorian original, with its portico and ocean-facing long open porches, Ocean House was reopened in 2010, with all 247 windows in their original positions. Many of the 49 rooms and 13 suites have terraces or balconies overlooking the sea. There’s reciprocity with a nearby private club for golf and tennis; a swimming pool (or swimming in the sea), two champion-level squash courts, croquet and cabanas on the private beach (beachside food, beverage and butler service.) The “Sandcastles” half-day summer program for children allows parents to enjoy the spa. The hotel has its own 33-foot motor yacht; and a local captain with a 24-foot catboat and motorboat can be booked. There are also art classes every week, “food foraging” in local farmers’ markets, wine tastings, cabaret on the lawn and clambakes. Plus, it’s dog-friendly! (www.oceanhouseri.com)
- Family, Friends and Fishing: Beaverkill Valley Inn, Lew Beach, NY The Rockefeller family is renowned for its commitment to conservation, and when Larry Rockefeller acquired the Beaverkill Valley, with a mile on the famous Beaverkill fly-fishing river, he saved some of the most beautiful land in the Catskills. He built an inn small enough so guests feel like family; it has only 19 tastefully simple rooms. When guests aren’t fishing, there’s tennis, a large recreation center with an indoor swimming pool, a gym and game room, and (fulfilling any childhood dreams) a self-serve ice cream parlor. One draw of the Inn is its cozy atmosphere, where families who have built houses in the valley (carefully placed, and respectful of the environment and the views), gather with guests for tea in the reading room, or in the bar/lounge that opens to a stone deck overlooking the river. A fisherperson’s paradise, the Beaverkill is part of a 65,000-acre watershed in a “forever wild” forest preserve. Guides and instructors can be booked through the inn and a kid’s day camp runs from the beginning of July to early August. (www.beaverkillvalleyinn.com)
- Riding High: A Bar A Ranch, Encampment, Wyoming Founded in 1926, A Bar A set along the Platte River in the Medicine Bow Mountains is one of the oldest guest ranches in the country. With a 92 percent return rate, it has served the same families for generations. Set on 100,000 acres, with three ranches (one is a working ranch with an 85-horse remuda and 6,000 head of cattle), guests stay in log cabins or rooms (telephone and t.v.-free, but there is WiFi). Riding (there are 130 horses, and guests ride the same horse all week), hiking, and guided fly-fishing on 26 miles of private water accommodate all levels. There’s a nine-hole golf course, heated swimming pool, instruction in skeet, trap and sporting clays, and wild upland game bird hunts from August through October with private guides and dogs. The children’s camp runs all day and teenagers have their own activities. Expeditions can be booked for a day, overnight or a week. Log cabins and rooms are furnished in un-kitschy Western style, the food is gourmet and the wine cellar is extensive. Evenings feature campfires, cookouts and cowboy music. (www.abararanch.com)
- Downeast: Sailors Take Note: Blue Hill, Maine—and environs Blue Hill, a small town on Penobscot Bay, has been a second home to families who have summered there since the 19th century. The Kollewidgwok Yacht Club provides sailing lessons and private instruction for non-member children and adults throughout the summer and is an ideal way to meet friends, and be absorbed into the community, while renting a waterside house. Music lovers attend the concerts and master classes at Kneisel Hall, where talented students and professionals give bi-weekly concerts. For fresh lobster, head to The Fishnet and Perry’s Lobster Pound and for gourmet meals there’s Arborvine and Bucks. The Blue Hill Farmers’ Market is held on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, and the village has one of the best independent bookstores in the country: Blue Hill Books and a superb wine shop: Blue Hill Wines. Guests can rent kayaks and cones from The Activity Shop and for bigger boats, there are landings at Weber’s Cove. Contact Indagare for assistance in renting a house in Blue Hill and its surroundings.
- Mountain Majesty: Telluride, Colorado This former mining village hit its stride in the 1970s as a lower-key alternate to Vail and Aspen. There’s the Telluride Academy Summer Day Camp for kids and Telluride Film School and a teen soccer clinic for the teenagers. There are myriad activities for parents and the whole family including hikes, biking, river rafting, fly-fishing and photography tours. For pampering there are a wealth of spas and salons like the one at The Peaks hotel. There are “horse whispering–style” riding experiences as well as trail rides available and many outfitters who can help arrange wilderness camping trips. Contact Indagare for assistance in renting a house in Telluride.
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