Monday, August 30, 2010

Shabbos In Tannersville

For many years I had a quote on my refrigerator to the effect that one should not go back to a place where one had once been happy.

You might think that this is a contradiction for someone who is very into creating traditions, but a recurring yearly event with the family is not quite the same as returning after an extended absence, to a place filled with childhood memories and expecting to find everything unchanged - because it seldom is....

I spent nearly all my childhood summers upstate in Tannersville, NY and many of them in this home.

(You can see from these photos why, after I had children of my own, I was unable to fathom the allure of going from a cramped city apartment to an even more cramped bungalow for the summer...)
(You can also spot the dilapidated gazebo in the second photo where I spent many a rainy summer afternoon channeling Liesel from The Sound of Music singing "I am sixteen, going on seventeen" while skipping from bench to bench....)

I returned to Tannersville shortly after I was married and it was a painful experience. Time had not stood still. Memories which were still fresh in my mind, led to expectations of moments frozen in time, but the reality was that life had gone on and the "landscape" had changed.

Somehow though, as more time passed and my personal expectations changed, when we received an invitation from Michael and Annette to spend a Shabbos with them in their home, which coincidentally is across the street from the aforementioned house, I was once again eager to revisit familiar ground.

As we progressed up the thruway to the point where the sky seems to get larger and bluer with each passing mile, I could almost feel the stresses of the week dissolving within me.

This is the idyllic view from their backyard.

Michael and Annette are consummate host and hostess and we had a FABULOUS time. We began the weekend by doing a bit of "antiquing" in a neighboring town and then had a relaxing late Friday afternoon sipping coffee on the deck at Point Lookout, where the view encompasses five states. Have you ever known me to relax and sip coffee on a Friday afternoon? I'm still not sure how Annette managed to pull that amazing Shabbos together.....

Shabbos morning had me up early (well... early for me...) and in the shul, which I found quite unchanged, except for the alarm signs in the front yard and the unsightly energy efficient bulbs now gracing the fixtures. It is a strange experience sitting and davening as a grown woman in a pew of a shul that one has only sat in as a child. It was almost an out of body experience.

We enjoyed a "gemutlich" Shalosh Seudos at Samson and Judy's house and stayed until the men returned from maariv, so that we wouldn't have to face the bears (another new and unwanted development since my childhood) alone on our trek home. (I figured that if I let Avram walk in front of me, by the time the bear was done with him, he wouldn't have much of an appetite left for me {grin}).

Motzoei Shabbos found us playing Scattergories and Bananagrams and Sunday had us visiting Olana, the Persian style home of famed Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church. A quick stop at a local farm on the way back to the city, yielded us what seemed like bushels of fresh picked corn, eggplant, zucchini, peaches, pears and plums for this week's zwetschgenkuchen.

All in all, I'd have to say that in the G6's version of the Fodor's Guide to Tannersville, it receives four and a half stars!!! (It lost the half star because of the bears. This is because I lost half my MIND listening to Jennifer clap her hands wildly to scare them away every time we walked outside at night....)


cuzzin buzzin said...

I know exactly how you feel. I went back to Lake Hopatcong where I spent my youth and was bawling the entire time. The MASSIVE tree we used to hide under wasn't that tall, the house(s) I spent summers in didn't have the warmth that I remembered, and the lake where I swam every single day in nice weather - and spent most of my days- was, just a lake. The distances we used to ride seemed like mere footsteps from one spot to another. I was 15 when I spent my last Succos there, and as a close family member has often suggested, I should not have gone back. I am altogether a very nostalgic and emotional person and I found it difficult.
But of course the tears and feelings of sadness were for lost youth, for family members who were such a part of my summers who are no longer around, and for the vibrancy and youthfulness of family members who have grown older.

Staying Afloat said...

Glad you recaptured the magic.

A few years ago, my oldest went to Camp Sternberg, where I went at her age. She was in the same bunk house as I was.

On visiting day, I kept saying, "It's all so SMALL." And buildings had different uses. But the magic was still there. (Oh, and I do not miss the whole swimming-in-the-lake idea. Their current pool is much better :)

Nomi said...

I'm making zwetschgenkuchen this week too!!! But our recipes are different and unless you let me come make in your apartment you aren't going to get to taste it, which is sad!

And I'm glad that you were able to recapture the magic. The advantage of having spent summer vacations in Yosemite is that it is almost impossible to not feel the magic. It's not your feelings of magic, it's the inherent magic of experiencing Hashem's amazing creations with that kind of immediacy.

Anonymous said...

Some people have the same approach to the Kehillo - the pain of realizing that time marches on and things are not the same as they were/as great as we perceived them to be.

G6 said...

Anonymous -

You have faulty logic.

The pain people perceive regarding the Kehillo today is because things indeed WERE MUCH GREATER then.

Look what we had then. (Kashrus, Seminary, High Schools, "Derech")
Look what we have now.

t said...

My mother just purchased her Italian plums and is gearing up for her zwetschgenkuchen, guess it's that season.

BLD said...

I am sorry everyone is so saddened by the memories of yesteyear. More important to be misabel on the 4 people killed yesterday in Chevron not Summertime fantasies.

cuzzin buzzin said...

bld if you want to lecture go to yeshivaworld or vinnews, they LOVE comments like yours

G6 said...

cuzzin buzzin -
It's times like these that I'm most proud to call you "Cuzzin" :D

G6 said...

cuzzin buzzin -
It's times like these that I'm most proud to call you "Cuzzin" :D

yodelling yodeller said...

well said cuzzin buzzin!

previous comment also well said, except WHO are the family members that have lost their vitality!!!!???

G6, what time is the zwetschgenkuchen being served?? I am available for tasting purposes around 12, since I dont daven in the main shul.

G6 said...

Yodelling Yodeler -
We're "plum" out of zwetcshgenkuchen this Yom Tov, but you're welcome to toddle on down the hill for a molten cakelet, or your choice of honey cake, sunken apple honey tart, orange honey spice cake or YeshivaWorld coconut brownies.