We got a little summer cabin fever this last weekend. I was plain weary, and my wife was weary of all of us men in our little home, and we had to go somewhere else. Anywhere.
We often find ourselves going to places most people would call "anywhere." Our friends describe vacations and sporting events and concerts and so forth that sound like everyone's idea of fun. Sometimes I find myself describing our activities to our acquaintances and family and I see an expression come over their faces that I've seen on people that are hearing about eating broccoli when they'd rather be given directions to a steakhouse. I'm sorry, we can't help ourselves.
We went to the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The four year old will go anywhere and look at anything, so he's not a problem. But a twelve year old? He can be bored, and boring.
He invited one of his schoolmates to come. That made it better. They were a pack of wolves all by themselves, and the world was their flock of sheep. We gave them a cellphone and let the line out a little on the invisible string we keep on our children. We were essentially alone in this place anyway.
The place is a big landscaping show, but late summer has few things to recommend it flower-wise. My wife and I were grateful to see a patch of grass that didn't need mowing and wasn't crabgrass, so we didn't care. We went inside that windmill, and heard the docent, perhaps only slightly older than the revolutionary war vintage structure itself, lecture the few of us on the who what when where and why of it. My four year old smiled at him and the docent turned the thing on for him. The rest of us would have got bupkis. My four year old could get a dog off a meat truck. We watched the canvas sheets pass by the dutch door for a good, long, time.
The place is pleasant, and everybody that works there was more than pleasant, but it's got no real rhyme or reason to it. And it gets a little less coherent as time passes. There's a reproduction of a huge round shaker barn, and it's filled with antique cars. I enjoy both things and find them interesting, but there's a kind of incongruity to such juxtapositions that I can't shake.
The older boys were jazzed to go because there is a an enormous reproduction sort -of-Fort Ticonderoga loghouse there, and it was filled with an interesting and compelling collection of guns and weapons and Indian artifacts and lead toy soldiers. I say "was filled," not "is filled," because we went in and it was mostly gone, and replaced by a rather tepid display of memorabilia from the Cape Cod Baseball League. There are only so many pictures of future big leaguers looking gaunt because they haven't figured out where to buy human growth hormone yet that you can stand to look at. And what's it doing in a fort? Bring back the guns, will you? We saw a few shunted off into little niches here and there. The baseball museum could have fit in a phone booth.
But the big boys were not deterred. Boys are never deterred. They walked back out into the blazing sunshine and the breeze from the nearby lake, saw me and my lovely wife sitting in the shade of an enormous oak, sized up the beauty and utility of intervening grass, and knew what it all was for.