Letters to the summer tenants.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
July 6 2007 3:53 PM

Letters to the Summer Tenants

Renting to the wrong people.

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As the summer heat approaches its hellish apogee, thousands will flee their jobs for vacation spots near the ocean. Ten summers ago, Jodie T. Allen's "self-martyred landlord" wrote to the destructive summer tenants who had just left her house: "I did find a minute to relax in a rocker on the porch this morning, to watch the seabirds and admire what's left of the garden." Her article is reprinted below.

Aug. 30, 1997

Dear P's,

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I'm so glad you enjoyed your stay on the island. We were delighted to arrive after our long trip yesterday and find everything in such fine shape. It is always such a pleasure—after the fuss with the boat, the baggage, and the groceries—to walk the porches, and to watch the sun set behind the lighthouse to the west, the moon rise from the tinted sea to the east, the water darken and cap with white in the south. Of course, you probably didn't spend much time on the deck looking south because of the smell from the garbage cans.

Well, they're all clean now, though it did take some scrubbing. Next year I must make sure to leave you a larger supply of the 39-gallon can liners. I know I've left you notes about the others being too small, which means the lobster shells and fish juices spill over and mix with the chewing gum and pasta in the bottom of the can. You can buy the liners right in the harbor at the supermarket, though I suppose it is easier to grab the 30-gallon size. And with all the guests you have while you're here, I'm sure time must be at a premium!

I did find a minute to relax in a rocker on the porch this morning, to watch the seabirds and admire what's left of the garden. (It's amazing what a little watering will do for the flowers in a dry summer like this one.) Unfortunately, I didn't realize until it was too late that one of the spokes holding the left rocker had come loose, and that someone had tossed it away. (You know, it's really easy to reglue that sort of thing before the whole frame collapses and the rattan tears—but I suppose it does make handy kindling. I noticed there were only a couple of beads of the carving left when I cleaned the fireplace.) But I didn't really hurt myself—one always picks up a few bumps and scrapes around the house.

Many thanks for the bottles of wine. I can see from all the empty cartons that you must have enjoyed it too. Hope you're having a great summer's end.

As ever, etc.

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