There is this scene in the movie “Jaws” where, when the residents of Amity are told there will be a $10,000 reward to anyone who kills the Great White Shark that has been terrorizing the beach, everyone with anything that floats, takes to the water in an attempt to capture the bounty.
Since there is only one Great White and dozens of people looking to capture it, the waters become a landscape of confusion and chaos as the boaters, armed with fishing poles, spears and rifles, try to outdo the others.
Boats are going every which way, no one is giving an inch, safety is ignored and near misses and accidents occur with regularity.
I haven’t seen “Jaws” for a while, but I do see a smaller version of this scene on a regular basis on a sunny summer afternoon walking across the Weirs Beach bridge and look out onto Lake Winnipesaukee on a sunny summer weekend.
There are usually dozens of boats going every which way, jet skis looking for holes in between and those experienced boaters looking for a path through the madness to get clear and out into safer, less crowded waters.
It is, to me, one of the first real scenes of summer here in the Lakes Region. The only thing missing is the shark and the “dum-dum-dum-dum” soundtrack.
There are other scenes showing that summer is fully ensconced and not all of them are outdoors.
Inside the local supermarkets, there is always a bigger crowd than usual. Business is good.
As I wend my way through the chaotic movement of shopping carts – are these the same folks that I will spy later out on the water of Winnipesaukee as I walk across the Weirs Beach bridge? – I see a pattern.
I play a game in my head to see who is on vacation and who is not.
Shopping carts full of hot dogs, hamburger meat, rolls and beer are always a dead giveaway. Still, there could be some locals in this category, just preparing for one of the few barbecues they will have this summer.
It is then that I look for the real giveaway. Those wearing “I Love New Hampshire” and “Lake Winnipesaukee” sweatshirts, usually give it away. You’ll rarely ever see a local with one of those on.
I am also great at picking out a good nasally New York accent; Long Island being my specialty, since that is where I grew up. I still have a twinge of it myself after a few beers, but it quickly goes away.
I am also starting to get the hang of distinguishing a South Boston tongue as well as other Massachusetts dialects. Even Rosetta Stone can’t help with this one.
Brand new sneakers are usually a sure giveaway to a tourist. Still, locals have those as well, so if they are combined with a pair of new shorts with the creases still in them, I’d bet money.
Vacationers also have some embarrassing ways to give up their identities.
I remember, all too clearly, last summer a very disturbing scenario: A man in the supermarket with no shirt on.
This wasn’t a young guy, but a guy who was at least in his 50s. Being softer than he thought he was around the middle and hairier than anyone had the right to witness, he strolled through the supermarket not seeming to care while at the same time setting up a sight that will, I am sure, for years to come, haunt the dreams of young children and adults alike.
He, was, for lack of a better term, more frightening than the shark in “Jaws.” I can only suggest to him, and those like him, that you do the rest of us a favor and throw on a “I Love New Hampshire” or “Lake Winnipesaukee” sweatshirt the next time, if there must be one.
Some scenes of summer are subtler: harder to get a seat at the restaurant; easier to get a lobster roll. Harder to get a tee time; easier to find a mini-golf course. Easier to find fresh blueberries, harder to find a pumpkin (our state fruit, in case you didn’t know).
From a business standpoint, summer is a short eight-week season. From the selfish viewpoint of some locals, it’s way too long. Year round residents are quick to criticize, complain and give loud sighs when they become frustrated as their way of life is interrupted for a couple of months. That’s a true sign of summer as well.
Before you know it, traffic will diminish, attractions will close, supermarkets will be quieter and there won’t be much to do.
Wait, here come the Leaf Peppers.
To find out more about Brendan’s book and upcoming appearances go to www.BrendanTSmith.com