We once took a Maine vacation. It was late in the summer and for many months we had not been out of the city of Cambridge where we lived because of the impending birth and early infancy of our third child. All of us desperately needed a vacation. We had heard so much about the beauties of the northeastern coastline and wanted to see something of them. Strapped for money, and stealing precious time off from work we decided to take our vacation. A young artist who owned a house on Penobscot Bay had advertised in a local paper that she was looking for renters for ten days while she attended an art institute. The price was right and we jumped at the opportunity.
Early one morning we set off on the long trek northward, planning to arrive at our destination (with the many requisite stops) by evening. Although I have a nearly nonexistent faith in our family's ability to travel with any sort of dignity and decorum, I had done all I could to anticipate any emergency.
Everything seemed ideal for about a half an hour. Then our two-year-old daughter vomited her breakfast all over the backseat. That set the tone for the remainder of the trip. We discovered that the baby, just a few months old, was content sitting in his car seat while he was sleeping but howled when strapped in it awake. I think he thought we were trying to get him to sleep again. He had never been for a long drive in the car. Needless to say, he slept little and howled most of the way. We stopped frequently so I could nurse him and so that the girls could run around for a bit, but he began to cry each time we started up again. The girls began to fight. They bickered, teased and shrieked. All of our nerves were frayed.
By the time we arrived at our lodgings, it was late and dark. My urgently pleaded nighttime prayer was that everyone would sleep in just a little later in the morning. I, still depleted from an arduous birth and bleary-eyed from interrupted nights, needed rest most of all.
As fate would have it, the tiny bed alcove into which the children and I eventually piled (due to the musical beds effect that always seems to occur in a new place) had two enormous unshaded and unshuttered windows that faced the east. The glorious radiance of the sun streamed in on us about four or five hours after we had all finally fallen asleep.
My eldest daughter woke with the sun. She was radiant with anticipation. "The beach! The beach!" She shouted at full voice, "Let's go down to the beach!" I tried to hush her but she woke our other daughter who immediately began to cry. She wanted a bottle, she wailed. She was grumpy with sleeplessness. I tried to hush them both and stumbled around trying to find a bottle among the rubble of the suitcases that had been plopped in the doorway the night before. Then I couldn't find the juice. All the commotion startled the baby who began to cry.