Holding on to Summer Magic

As I sat on my back porch tonight, I felt the winds change. It’s a subtle shift. A soft whisper. The land around me sucked in its last summer breath and released a cool warning that these moments of warmth were coming to an end.

While I knew the shift of season was approaching, have braced myself for it, I’m not ready to let go. And I won’t.

Summer is a promise. A promise to take the time out to indulge. To bask in everlasting sunlight and take the days slow. To notch out a tiny bit of time in my busy life for myself. We all deserve the escape. To find a getaway. A place of respite to shed all the labors of daily life and just be.

For some, that means staying in a hotel on the beach. For others, it’s a cottage on a lake.

For me… I run to the Wild. To a little place called Dolly Copp Campground. A wanderer’s refuge nestled in the base of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains.

Our campsite boasts no luxuries such as warm water or electricity, but it brings me more joy than any five-star hotel. All the comfort we need lies in a Coleman tent, a metal-ringed firepit, and the sound of the Peabody River flowing just yards away.

This little piece of paradise lends easy access to some of the most beautiful sights in New England. It entices us to explore the landscape.  From the rushing mists at the base of great waterfalls, to the windswept peaks of mountaintops, there’s no limit for a drifter’s heart.

Once we’ve had our share of adventure, we can rest ourselves in the solace of Dolly’s homestead. As night settles on her land, we are lulled by the sound of chirping crickets, rushing water, crackling fires, and rustling winds.  And it’s from this steady stream of noise that we find the quiet in ourselves. The kind of quiet that awakens our souls.

I’ve been coming to Dolly Copp for almost 30 years, and while I’ve only been cradled in her wonder for one percent of my life, she has nurtured one hundred percent of my being.

Dolly has been a strong force throughout my years. It was around her fires that my family first realized that our greatest strength was One Another.  It was within her holy waters that I dunked in as a child and emerged as a woman.  It was upon her fields, beneath the shooting stars, that I first fell in love.  And when I lost all faith, all hope… it was her mountain magic that restored my broken spirit.

Over the years, of course, I grew. I changed. Each year I’d return a little different, and find Dolly a little different too. The winter storms would take down trees, move boulders, and even change the bends in her river.  But she taught me that no matter how the storms changed our landscape, we were still made of the same elements. Still strong. Still beautiful. Still worthy.

I’m so grateful to pass the love of this place down to my children. Because I know from the first day I brought them here, they absorbed it. There’s nothing better than hearing their laughter meld with Dolly’s giggling streams. And to watch them find themselves in her landscape

If at any time throughout the year I need to find my happy place, I close my eyes and bring myself here. On the Peabody river beside site 168. The gravel beneath my feet, the river rushing over my skin, the wind tangling my hair, and the sun shining down on me. It’s Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire. It’s all the Wild that stirs around me and within me.

While I’d love to have spent two weeks in my paradise, I had to make due with three nights. Three nights. But that was all I needed to fulfill the promise of summer indulgence. Between those three nights we lived the way nature intended. Woke with the sun, ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and more than anything, we answered the call of our wild.

And that’s luxury for me. That’s vacation. That’s summer.  That’s the magic I’ll hold onto… until next time, Dolly.

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