We have been back from our long spring sojourn in Florida for a month now, and so it is time to turn attention to preparations for our mid-June departure for Maine where we will be living until the end of August. We have been going to Maine every summer in August for the past 22 years (and a few times in between during the other three seasons), but this year we plan on spending the entire summer there. One of the great perks of retirement, I guess. I think I am going to like this new life style! But I am getting ahead of myself.
This will be something new for us. In past years, our time in Maine was a vacation, an annual three-week respite from the rat race of life, routine, and a regular job in Washington, DC. This year, for eleven weeks the lake cottage will be our summer home. We will do many of things we do the rest of the year at home in suburban Maryland, yet this time around it will be done at a quaint little cottage on the shores of Sabbathday Lake, in the foothills of western Maine.
We will not have to cram everything into three short weeks (and weeks are always too short when they are your annual summer vacation). In the past, we would try to spend as much time as we could at the lake, enjoying the opportunities to swim and boat around the lake, and to do a little fishing in the mornings and evenings. But we would also be eager to get out and explore the rest of the state for we found that Maine is not all lobsters and Whoopie Pies. There is the rugged and rocky coastline with its fishing villages and their lobster pounds and a rich abundance of the freshest seafood. And there are the rolling hills covered with unimaginable stands of hardwoods and pine forests, and beyond them an almost unspoiled mountain wilderness stretching to the highland along the Canadian border. Here there are countless streams, ponds and lakes populated by native trout and salmon. There are the great rivers flowing from these mountains to the sea - Androscoggin, Sheepscot, Kennebec, Penobscot - whose watersheds drain the entire state. These rivers, whose sources are hidden deep in the northern Maine wilderness, eventually pass through farms and fields as they descend toward the Gulf of Maine. Here are grazing herds of Holstein cattle, fields of corn, potatoes and soybeans. There are truck farms with their summer offerings of sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, bean, peas, strawberries and blueberries. Here, too, fields of timothy, clover and alfalfa cut each year in early June and again in August. The aroma of fresh cut hay is as unmistakable as the salty sea breezes along the coast. Yes, Maine has much to offer, and as a result, our limited time was usually split between the lake and the road. Often a very hard choice to make.
This year should be different, however. After 22 summers of wandering here and there, we have had a chance to explore and sample Maine’s diverse geography and landscapes; there is not a section of the state whose roads we have not been down. So this summer we do not feel the need to explore so much. We are going to Maine to live, to get a feeling for what it is like to be a part of a new community. We hope to get to know our neighbors better and to attend community events. We now have a post office box to receive mail. My letters have a new letterhead with our local address. We plan to visit the local library and gym. Instead of eating out almost every day, we plan to visit the local farmer stands and markets and eat “at home” on the deck overlooking the lake. We will take trips and we will explore, but not to the extent we have done so in past years. This year we will be happy to live, to write and paint, in a place we plan to return to for many summers to come. We are going to Maine, and when our time there is eventually over, I know it will be difficult to return to Maryland. It is like this every summer. But this year is different. This year will be special.