All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
“I've been a lot of places all around the way
I've seen a lot of joy, and I've seen a lot of pain
But I don’t wanna write a love song for the world...”
(“Say Hey” by Michael Franti)
Fun. Laughing, cheering, screaming, fighting. Part of the everyday routine for Beaverkill life. Waiting on the stone steps for it to be my turn to bat. Meanwhile, it’s Packy’s time to shine. He waits. Anticipating. Calculating ways to show up his older brothers. I sit there watching Liam wind up with my hands splayed flat on my ripped, orange shorts. With a quick whoosh the ball is spinning. Packy swings, strikes, and stares. Just for a second until he realizes Liam and Alex are still waiting for the ball to meet the grass. Building momentum, Packy hurls the bat behind him. One split second is all I get until the bat is slamming my lips. I sink backwards from the force of the blow. My eyes are closed. Gathering tears. But there is still cheering. And laughter. And the rapid thump of Packy’s feet bouncing off the ground. The thumping comes to a slow stop, and then starts up again, but this time, towards me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents gather, thinking I lost teeth. Packy’s face is the first I see. Centimeters from mine. Orangey brown hair, face smothered in freckles, and big, worried, greenish flecked eyes. Apologizing over and over. Next, I’m laying on the couch, and Packy is bringing me hot chocolate. My mouth feels swollen and numb. My sister sitting at my feet, teasing. Haha, you have a big lip. Smile! I smile. I laugh. That’s just how life is in Beaverkill...fun.
The very first memory I have of Beaverkill is this. I had been there before, but this was the first memory. It is strange that my first recollection is quite unpleasant, because Beaverkill is a place of pure happiness. Kids constantly running, doing. Everyone on their own schedule, doing what they please. Buried in the hills of the Catskill mountains, Beaverkill is a kin to heaven. The Stone House is surrounded by green trees, waterfalls, and the greenest grass. At the end of the yard is a deep, crystal clear river with huge rocks on the side to jump off. Beaverkill is the one place I can never get tired of.
Okay who wants to go next? Packy cries as he situates the River Rat tube on the grass. We all shout for a bit before we decide on who gets to role down the hill in the tubes. How about Alex and A.J.? Gab shouts from the porch. Yesssss A.J. hisses. Let’s do this buddy. Alex says while they step in the tube back to back. The sight of them standing next to each other is absurd. A.J.’s head reaches Alex’s lower back as they both raise their arms, and Packy drops the tubes one by one around them. We all back up, and Liam lightly pushes them down to the ground. Then, Liam, Packy and Rick each hold a tube and push them down the hill. Screaming, shouting, laughing. It’s all coming from A.J., but it’s still the same, sweet sound of Beaverkill.
There were three years that went by without going to Beaverkill, or seeing the family. By the time we went back, I had totally forgotten what it looked like. Once we got there and my cousins climbed out of their car, they were totally different people. Huge, built men who no longer shared the excitement of swimming in the cold water, or playing Kick The Can. Despite the boys growing up, Beaverkill only got better and better over the years.
One, two, three, four... We all scurry away from the front door, and away from Fiona, counting next to the soccer ball. I am crouched behind the big patch of orange flowers by the time Fiona arrives to 30. She quietly walks around the perimeter of her boundaries. I look over and see Sophie relocating behind the house. She is crawling to the edge, making sure Fiona doesn’t see her through the windows. Her foot sticks out from behind the trash cans just in time for Fiona to turn around and see her leaning against the wall. Sophie by the kitchen door! Fiona runs to the ball with Sophie right on her heels. Fiona steps on the ball, and Sophie resigns to the grass. Next, Fiona is calling out A.J. by the porch! And A.J. is right there next to Sophie. Fiona is facing the river, thinking someone is back by the cooler. I crawl around the flowers, and take off towards the ball. Fiona hears my footsteps, and turns around as I kick the ball. Aghh! We laugh, and we are back to the beginning.
The Cottage. The Cottage is exactly what we call it. A cottage. Simple, but cozy. Located on the other side of the brooke from the Stone house. My parents stay in the little room containing nothing but a bed. The kids, all the kids sleep in the attic. The attic is just a room with an A frame ceiling, and old green carpet. There are two queen sized mattresses on one side, and four twin size mattresses on the other, not including the little blow-up air mattress for Sarah. The attic is the kids place. Probably because most of the adults can’t stand up in there, or there isn’t enough room, or they don’t feel like climbing the latter, but it is basically the place to go, just to get away.
Its raining. Hard. We can hear it on the ceiling when we are downstairs. Fiona and I head into the kitchen. I’m hungry. What should we eat? I moan. Let’s just have lunch since it’s already one. Fiona replies. I open up the fridge... it’s packed, and I shuffle things around until I find something appealing. I grab two cokes. Not the canned coke, or plastic bottled. Classic coke, just the simple, but elegant glass bottle. Fiona digs through one of the cabinets and finds some popcorn. Want some popcorn? I turn to her and say, Yes. Popcorn is something I cannot get tired of. I throw it in the microwave and press Cook 1, 2:00, and Start. I lean against the counter while the popcorn pops, and Fiona shuffles over to the junk table. Since we already have coke and popcorn going, how about some sour skittles? she asks. Sounds good. I smile, and the microwave starts beeping. I grab the paper strip of the bag that isn’t hot, and we push our way out of the kitchen door. We sprint to the cottage, trying not to get the food wet, and to not trip. We twist open the door and step up into the little house. We kick off our shoes and walk through the miniature kitchen and climb up the latter. Once in the attic, we settle ourselves on our beds, and start eating. We are finally alone, and without little cousins radiating their energy through the room. We can tell each other anything. No judgments, no secrets, and worries, just two, related, best friends in Beaverkill.
In the mornings, everyone sleeps in as long as they want, and then climb down the creaky latter to walk over the the big house and get breakfast. We sit on the front porch, with our legs up on the railing, watching the river slowly make it’s way by. My Granny comes out to join us around 10 or 11 and sits in her designated blue and white rocking chair with her coffee. We have the whole day ahead of us, and nothing could be better.
I drop into the second chair, put my orange juice and raison brand cereal on the little table, and then slide my legs onto the white log railing. Picking up my cereal, I hear the pattering of bare feet approaching the steps on the other side of the porch. It’s A.J. Not one morning goes by without A.J. following you out of the cottage. He is restless. Sitting in bed every morning, waiting for some one to wake up. He steps onto the porch, and runs to the seat next to me. Hey Luisa. He says, out of breathe, and with his slight lisp. He flops into the seat to my left, and is already rejuvenated. What do you wanna do? I look at him with a mouth full of cereal. A.J., you can do whatever you want, I just sat down to eat. How about you do the same? He sighs, and heads to the kitchen. A few minutes later, my Granny walks out with her cup of coffee. She wobbles to her chair at the end, and my mom’s cousin, Brookes, is right behind her. After a few minutes of regular chatting, Brookes turns to my Granny, Hey, Aunt Kathy, tell me about your new boyfriend at the nursing home! My Granny takes a long, slow gulp, breathes in slowly and says Which one? Brookes and I glance at each other and start laughing.
The river is one of the most important things in Beaverkill. My mom grew up swimming in it over the summers, as with her mom, and my Granny’s dad. Across from the rocky shore were the towels and soap, and shoes lay, are huge rocks stacked on top of one another, the perfect hight for jumping. Beaverkill isn’t Beaverkill without the rocks.
I don’t want to get in. It’s too cold! Sarah shouts as we get in the tubes to float over to the rocks. She is starting her daily routine all over again. Well, then you don’t have to. Fiona and I tell her for the fifth time. Will one of you carry me? She begs. Noooo, you can get in your own tube. Sarah folds her hands together by her mouth and her eyes get big, as we keep swimming across. WAIT! She screams. What Sarah? I say annoyed. Pleeeeeaaasssse? I raise my eye brows at her. Fiona and I keep paddling to the rocks. We hoist our selves up on the first one, and we hear a Splash! We keep climbing. Wait! Wait! Wait! I’m coming! I promise! She is trying to keep her neck above the water. Mkay, Sarah. We will wait up here. She climbs onto the first rock, and makes her way over to where we are standing. We all situate ourselves so we won’t land on each other, or hit another rock. One fo- Fiona begins, but is cut off by Sarah shouting Wait! again. She leans down to fix her Crocs. Okay, I’m ready. She stand up and looks down at the clear water. Fiona starts again, One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go! We all push off the rocks, and throw our arms up. Fiona is the first to hit, then me, then Sarah. We swim back to the shore just as A.J. is making his way down to us. You didn’t tell me you already went! Let’s go again! We all grab another tube and paddle back over. I don’t wanna get in the water again! It’s too cold. Back to the beginning.
Going to Beaverkill over the years has made a huge impact on my life. It is my ideal paradise. Nothing will ever match it. When people ask me questions like, What is your favorite place you have ever gone? I could say France, or Germany, or Nicaragua, but I just tell them This house my mom’s side of the family has in the Catskill Mountains. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my lips. Being in Beaverkill has only taught me what pure happiness is, and for me, it is Beaverkill exactly.