Two weeks ago I found myself quietly perched on a broadcast legend’s stairs, tucked away, as the tape rolled. Surrounded by pops of color on the walls, in a breathtaking sun drenched room with gardens visible in the distance through a large picture window.
As the interviewer made detailed inquires about each stage of a legend’s life, Anne Garrels responded with unabashed honesty. Insecurities, frustrations, sacrifices--she shared them all. 
Twenty years ago, I had headed out into the world hoping to be the next Jane Pauley. But after graduating as a communications major, the reporter’s life wasn’t tugging at my soul strings. I went in another direction, related, but different.  
Now here I was in the rolling hills of Connecticut on a random video assignment for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Twenty years, two kids, many jobs, moves and dreams later. 
But how did I get here? Sitting in Anne Garrels’ living room on a beautiful summer day? I mused.
And then I remembered. As Will and I were leaving the Thankful Arnold House, now three years ago, I’d asked for a brochure. On the bottom of that brochure a logo read: Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail. 
It intrigued me. I loved the idea that an organization was paying tribute to the role of woman, past and present. So I reached out, contacted the Executive Director. We’ve collaborated ever since.
It’s hard to know what you’re looking for, when the goal is to get lost. 
But when you find it, you know. 
Happy Wandering.

Lost Summer

Part Three

After some time passed, I decided it was time to get back in the car and find the next destination.  I was thinking maybe ice cream.  Determined to cover new ground, I turned right out of the park entrance, away from the way we’d come.  
We passed one serene sight after another. It was as if we were in the opening scene of a movie about a tucked away New England town.  As each intersection came upon us the car drove as if on auto-pilot. Except for an occasional glance at the clock, I was oblivious and loving it. I even took special care not to turn on the news, as I always do, while driving. Silence seemed the appropriate score.
“Of course,” I thought as a large white historic looking gazebo appeared in the middle of a fork in the road.  This intersection was a little trickier than recent others. I could feel us getting deeper and deeper into a residential section of town.  
And then I saw it. A sign that read “Thankful Arnold House Museum.”  I followed the sign’s cues, compelled by the curious nature of the name.  
As we made our way through one country twist after another, I began to realize that somewhere I’d gone wrong. Maybe my mind had concocted the marker. A possible mirage of sorts given my “adventurous” state of mind.
As I turned the car around trying to figure which way next, there it was. A long colonial mustard colored house that looked like it once was in the heart of something. A square sign with black writing blew in the breeze, noting the storied significance of the structure. I pulled into the little driveway and parked next to a perfectly tended garden with a wooden trellis.  We walked through the garden path to the back door and opened it slowly.  
The room was dark but inviting.  Small displays were set up on tables.  “Hello,” the greeter said rising from a basement staircase, seeming surprised to have a visitor.  
“Hi, we saw your sign and decided to come in,” I said, almost defensively.
“What kind of tour would you like, the quick one or the full?”  Our host asked.  At first I thought the question was kind of funny, since the Museum appeared quite small. But then she gave Will a smile and handed him a basket of olden day toys. It was then I realized she probably didn’t have a lot of five year old patrons.
Still, he was curious and she was very gracious as we made our way through the rooms. We learned of Thankful Arnold, a widow with twelve children who took in boarders after her husband died to pay off his debts. The house was turned into a Museum in 1965, by descendants of Thankful as a tribute to her everyday triumphs and to the historic nature of the house.  
The rooms were set up as they would have been in 1825. Will was particularly memorized by where the boys in the family slept—in the attic on straw. I could see his level of appreciation for his own accommodations rise tenfold as he leaned on the bed in disbelief.  
As we finished our tour, I casually asked, “The name Thankful, was that a nickname?”  
“No, in those days girls were named after traits their parents hoped they would possess.” She pointed to a list of other common names of the day sitting on a desk to my left.  Submit, Obedience, Relief, Mindwell, Consider, Freelove, and Silence were all on the list.  
I shuddered at the thought of having a single desired trait thrust upon a person for their whole life in the form of a name, especially one like Submit or Obedience. But then I looked at my Will. The clear sturdy meaning of his name was a big part of its appeal, the reason my husband and I had chosen his name. We hoped our little man would have a strong and determined will, and he did.  
Thankful. That’s what I was feeling as we said goodbye to our tour guide and headed back to the car through the garden. It was time to get home.  
It would be hard to describe our lost day at dinner. Walking in a meadow by the Connecticut River. Happening on a quirky little museum paying tribute to a mother of twelve who took in boarders to pay the rent. Finding the will to get in the car in the first place. After all, there was still laundry and dinner and errands to run.  
But as we wound our way back through the now familiar country roads, I could feel summer. And it was just the beginning. We had a whole season in front of us. To get lost. I could hardly wait to see what we might find. 

Lost Summer

Part Two
The Edge of Summer
Determined but vulnerable in my convictions, the very next Friday, I made a second run for it. As my five year old Will and I left my oldest son’s elementary school after working at the school book fair, he asked, as he always does, “What now Momma, shops?”  

The post office, the grocery store, the toy store, the drycleaner, the coffee shop, shop, shop, shop. Life is one big shopping expedition when you’re five and tag around with Mom all day.
“We’re actually going to get lost,” I said bluntly, immediately wishing I’d framed our plans in a more positive light.  
“Lost?! Let’s go home,” he said, and for a second I was right there with him. Was it really worth getting into the hot car to drive who knows where? 
But instead, we buckled ourselves in, and I turned on the radio.  I sang loudly hoping that the spirit of fun and spontaneity would settle in. Looking like a little sweat angel in his gym shorts and Red Sox t-shirt, Will was fast asleep in minutes.  We were on our way.
Route 17 to Route 2 to 91 south, it wasn’t until I reached Route 9 that I had a decision to make.  Where was I heading?  “When in doubt, head toward the water,” I thought and so I did.  
There are several towns along Route 9 that I have gotten to know pretty well over the last seven years of living in Connecticut. But I wanted to find somewhere new. I decided on Exit 7, Haddam. Off the exit I went north on Route 154 and kept driving. 
It’s hard to know exactly what you’re looking for when the goal is to get lost.  But about ten minutes into windy country roads a sign for Haddam Meadows State Park caught my eye.  
The path into the park was barely paved and at first I thought we were the only ones there.  It was after all mid-day on a Friday.  But as I made my way around a grassy loop, I quickly came upon three school buses and scores of middle school aged kids having lunch.  I drove past the buses until I saw a picturesque spot overlooking the Connecticut River with two picnic tables.  I pulled in, shut off the car and rolled down the windows.  Will was sleeping so peacefully it didn’t seem fair to wake him up.  But within minutes he was stirring.  
“Are we lost, Momma?” he asked as though lost was a destination.  
“Yes” I answered “We’re in Haddam by the Connecticut River. Want to go for a walk?”
He unbuckled, not saying a word and followed me toward the bank and sat down on one of the table benches.  “It’s pretty here,” he said. I thought about how lucky I was to be on this silly adventure with my five year old, who despite his initial reluctance, now seemed up for the ride.  
Not far from the table where we sat, there was a trail opening.  I paused for a second.  I am not always at ease in nature.  And I have never really understood why, especially since I grew up in Upstate NY, surrounded by lakes and trees.  
“Why don’t we check out some of the wildflowers on that trail,” I said, camera in hand.  Will followed and almost immediately said “Look at those, I’ll take a picture of them.” He crouched down squinting in his photographer pose and snapped a picture of sprawling goldenrod clumps. We both admired the picture, as he grinned from ear to ear.  

We continued walking. It was nothing short of glorious, my little adventurer and me, on the bank of the Connecticut River. 
On the edge of summer.  

Every year it tulips retreat and sporadic sunny days turn to five day forecasts filled with heat indexes and top ten ratings, I get the sudden urge to climb the apple trees of my youth, to hideaway and escape the expectation of the budding season. 
Could this summer be different?
Lost Summer
Part 1
THE Season
It was an early May morning. Sun brightly shining, bursts of color poking through the earth and the feeling that everything was new. A gentle cool breeze was the only reminder that summer was still a few weeks away.
I’d just left the little coffee shop where I’d been working on a project, when I realized I’d misjudged the time. There was still a half hour before I needed to pick my little one up at preschool. Not quite enough time to run an errand but too much time to waste sitting in the parking lot counting the minutes. Why not enjoy the remnants of my coffee and take a little drive?  
Past the bustling farm stands, past the new houses being built, past the large field that would, in a few short months, be filled with plump pumpkins.  I kept driving until I decided to make a quick right down a road I’d never been on before.  
Almost immediately I came upon a golf course overlooking a beautiful hilly landscape and I realized I was in the next town over. At the top of the next hill, there was a small boxy structure,   a breakfast place. I imagined locals driving for miles to visit the little place on Saturday mornings. Or maybe they avoided it since they stopped making homemade bread two years ago.  
I thought about how much I loved discovering new places. With no way to fill in all the little details, a suburban explorer is left with two choices. Stop and find out more or keep driving and create the scenarios in your head.  
Of course the reality rarely matches the grandeur of what the mind makes up but sometimes it blows it away.
It was without a doubt time to get back and pick up my son. I would be one of the last parents in line if there was a line at all. As I came to the next intersection, a sign indicated that somewhere over the last five minutes I had crossed into yet another town, one that was not too familiar. I kept driving and at the next intersection, there was a posting for a town that I knew, next left, two miles away.  For some reason back tracking never crossed my mind. If I could get to that town I knew fairly well, I could find where I needed to go.  So I made the left turn and hoped something recognizable would appear.
I was starting to panic (what was I thinking heading off with just thirty minutes to spare?); still there were rich discoveries all around. A big old Victorian house selling lawn furniture and antiques, a flag store and a beautiful picnic spot overlooking a pond. What I had happened on was not exactly a destination but worth discovering nonetheless.  
Sure enough, at the next intersection, I saw a familiar strip mall. I knew right where I was, hopped on the highway and quickly (perhaps a little too quickly!) made my way to my son’s preschool. I was seven minutes late. But there was still someone in front of me in line. Phew!  Made it.
As we made our way home, I couldn’t help but think of my little adventure and about the approaching summer.
What If?
I’ve always preferred the hopeful nature of spring and the melancholy turn of fall to the intensity of winter and the pressure of summer. 
Every year when tulips retreat and sporadic sunny days turn to five day forecasts full of heat indexes and top ten ratings, I get the sudden urge to climb the apple trees of my youth, hoping to hideaway, if only for a few minutes, to escape the expectation of the budding season.
Family and friends call to make plans for cookouts and weekends away.  The neighborhood pool club bustles with eager members preparing the stage for swim meets and long afternoons spent chasing toddlers in the kiddy pool.  
And the clock begins. Tick, tick, tick.
Are all the beds weeded and mulched? Are the kids finally learning to really swim? Are they spending enough time outside?  Have they spent more time reading than watching TV? Have we made all the plans to see family and friends before the back-to-school catalogs arrive?  
Are we enjoying our (big pause) summer
As a child summer was long, at times interminable. But as an adult every season, especially summer, is crazy quick. And now I know those trips to see family and friends, lazy afternoons spent by the pool, even the day camp that I attended at my elementary school—all of it required planning and packing and a lot of laundry.  
Could this year be different? Was it possible to lose the running to-do list of summer and get back to the sentiment of the season? A time to re-group, try something new, wander. Could summer as an adult feel at all like summer as a kid?