Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The Love Shack is the fulfillment of my fondest fantasies.

Modest and unassuming, it resides on the edge of a lush forest, one half of Unit 10 of Rosmarin's Cottages and Camp in the town of Monroe, NY.

The Love Shack is Bungalow 10B. After years of skipping through other units -- all charming in their own way -- we settled on this one, outfitted with a generous front lawn, set far apart enough from the 99 other units so that we enjoy something that bungalow colonies often have in short supply -- privacy.

Because of our location, I often (happily) refer to our bungalow as the Anti-Social Shack.

The Love Shack has an enclosed porch where we have moved our round breakfast (and lunch and dinner) table; a combination kitchen/living room, a small bathroom and two bedrooms. Our front lawn has a combination of resin Adirondack chairs, a wooden picnic table and assorted end tables.

By 8 in the morning, sunlight filters onto our front lawn, drenching it in golden light for most of the day. By 4, the sun begins to recede over the top of the trees and the lawn becomes a sheltered oasis, protected from the glare of the sometimes relentless sun.

Early in the day, deer, bunnies and turkey vultures often cavort on our grass.

In my bedroom, the entire contents of my office surround me. It took eight hours, from 8 pm to 4 am, starting on Sunday evening, to pack up my work life, organize it, and prepare it for transport to the Love Shack. Since I started my business in 2002, this has been a yearly ritual -- transplanting my professional life into the Catskills.

Now, I am truly Bungalow Babe.

Where I fail to clean properly for Passover, I meticulously scour through files, notebooks and materials at the end of school in late June, organizing projects and clients, preparing them to make the trip with me from Manhattan to Monroe.

Thus within Bungalow 10B, I am able to run my business for the summer, working out of my bedroom, taking phone calls while stretched out on a blanket in the sun, invariably decked out in bikinis, running clothes, or not very much at all.

When we first came up here, in 1995, Little Babe was three weeks old and his brother and sister (Big and Middle Babe) were about to turn 11 and 7, respectively. For those first few summer, I had all the Babes with me up at the Love Shack. During the day, they attended the excellent day camp and when it was over, we met at the pool to swim for hours, or visited the nearby Ananda Ashram or went to play in "Airplane Park" in downtown Monroe, or hiked down to Walton Lake or caught a double feature at the Drive-In in Fair Oaks, Middletown or Warwick, or simply hung out inside the bungalow.

After my first summer, when I was on maternity leave, I worked during the day, commuting to Manhattan before I left my job to open my business, employing nannies to cover for me when I was not here. For a few summers, we even had young women live with us in the Love Shack. It was miraculous how our bungalow was able to accommodate so many people without seeming cramped.

Since Big and Middle Babe hit their teens, however, the prospect of a Bungalow Summer paled next to European travel or Israel trips and their visits have primarily been restricted to weekends or days off from their programs. With the allure of Summer in the City, it has been harder to lure them up to the Love Shack, though this summer I have been heartened to see their renewed appreciation and longing for our family tradition.

And speaking of tradition, HOBB (Husband of Bungalow Babe) stays mostly in The City, coming up with other husbands for the weekend in classic Catskills style.

Some of our most delicious memories are of being in the Love Shack together in the middle of the day, when no one else is around.

It is now 8:08 in the morning. The new folding table I picked up at Target last night is resting on the floor next to my bed. My printer is on the bed to my left, where I left it last night before I fell asleep reading this past Sunday's Times Magazine. Next to the printer, Alfie the Pomeranian is stretched out, snoozing blissfully. In our kitchen/living room, Little Babe is sleeping deeply. Though the entire back bedroom is his, filled with toys, books and momentos, he prefers to sleep in our common room, lulled by the hums of our fans and the refrigerator.

Shortly, I will have to wake Little Babe up and get him ready for camp. Shortly, I will have to begin my work day. Later, there is a Shortline bus I need to take to The City for a midday meeting. When I return, after Little Babe has had his fill of post-camp swimming and a snack at The Concession, I will drive him to Tae Kwon Do in Monroe, next to Straub's Fitness, where I work out. Later, I will host his friends for a summer dinner -- hamburgers and potato chips.

I am typing in my bungalow bedroom, wearing the tank top and shorts I slept in. My short black hair is standing up in spikes around my head. After one weekend in the country, my skin is already deeply tanned. I think with pleasure of the contrast between my brown thighs and the oatmeal linen walking shorts I will wear to my meeting today.

Bags from Target still litter my kitchen floor. My summer reading has still not been unpacked from the suitcase I hauled into Little Babe's bedroom but, as if with x-ray vision, I can see the books I plan to read: Don Quixote; The Stories of Mary Gordon; Londonistan; New Essays on Zionism; The Book of Disquiet.

And the Collected Works of Isaac Babel.

I have been shlepping Babel around since Passover, losing him once in SoHo, failing to finish his work but determined to keep trying.

The Love Shack is filled with the artifacts of my life -- my laptop, my work, camp photographs, knick-knacks from the local 99 cent stores, tag sales, roadside leftovers from garage sales.

There is just enough space inside Bungalow 10B to accommodate my summer life. The humble rooms harbor my memories and my dreams. Sweet sleep overtakes me at night; sweet summer air surrounds my slumber.

The view outside my enclosed porch is of a lush and deep woods.

It is this view that calms me when I have fears that I may cease to be.

This scenario is the epitome of my desires.

1 comment:

Rachel Federman said...

This is wonderful