Summer Mahogany

Gina closed her eyes, dark lashes fluttering in memory. The years rolled away and she remembered her response to her grandfather's question the first time he had seen Rhyder, wanting to know who the man was that his young granddaughter was staring at.

"He's from away, summer mahogany," she had answered, falling into the idiomatic speech of her native Maine.

People who neither were born nor lived in Maine were never referred to as foreigners or "furriners," nor classified as outsiders. They were generalized as being "from away."

"Summer mahogany" was a category that indicated that Rhyder belonged to the yachting set. It was a descriptive and picturesque term, considering the sun-browned appearance of the boating crowd that descended on Maine in the summer. It separated them from the regular "summer complaints," an affectionate term for tourists who visited the coastal resorts of Maine.

For the impressionable sixteen-year-old girl that Gina had been nine years ago, summer mahogany became more than just a term. Rhyder personified summer mahogany, with his features appearing chiseled in hardwood and browned by the summertime sun. There had been a raw virility about him, a male vitality such as Gina had never encountered before—or since.
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