Monday, August 15, 2011

Bauneg Beggars

Summertime and childhood are wonderful words and when I add Maine to the mix, it becomes magical. Immediately after the last day of school, Mom and Dad packed up the station wagon, lining the back with sleeping bags and pillows for me and my sister.  Briefly woken from our slumber at three in the morning, we climbed into the back and continued to sleep while Dad drove the five hours to the cottage in Maine.  At times I resented leaving my school friends behind.  They excitedly talked about their plans of swimming and riding bikes and going off to summer camp for a week and I was jealous for a few fleeting moments.  Miles before the car would turn down the gravel lane, our family dog, Gandalf would huff and puff and bark and wail, clearly recognizing the scenery or the distinct smell of pine in the air.  As the car slowed and made the sharp right turn on the former East 2 Road, the brilliant sparkle of dark blue water could be glimpsed between cottages, the bright morning sunlight dancing on the surface.  Suddenly I felt like I was home:  no rules, fresh air and memories to last a lifetime.

We were the Summer People and our numbers were strong.  No one stayed there year-round.  The winters were too harsh.  Friends that we played with once a year would soon arrive.  Cousins weren't very far behind.  I spent time with Lucy, who was several years older than me, listening to ABBA on her cassette player and visiting other Summer People.  It was in one of these cottages that a gathering of adults posed the question of what to call the Summer People.  It was reasoned that if you lived in New York, you would be called a New Yorker.  If you were from Italy you were Italian.  If you were from the South, you were a Southerner.  Lucy  thought it was simple.  The pond was called Bauneg Beg so we should be called Bauneg Beggars.  The adults laughed and agreed that it was most fitting.  To this day, when I pass that cottage where the discussion took place so many years ago, I smile when I see the plaque hanging outside with the words "Bauneg Beggars" burned into the surface and I wonder how many of us still remember.