Everyone has, or I hope they have, a place so central to their heart that even if you don’t visit it often, it strengthens your soul and makes you smile just looking at a photo. For me, that place is Mount Desert Island and more specifically, my friend’s house which overlooks it. I have been visiting MDI (and once my friend built her house, this very house) as close to annually as I can get. For the last three years since moving back from Brazil, I plan my summer around it. Sorry, can’t plan camps for kids or trips to see the relatives until I’ve locked in MDI.
I could write a blog entirely about MDI. I mean daily for a year. My fascination with the place started in college when my friend Jen and I roomed together in an old stable. Hay optional. She invited me for an October break vacation in the middle of a glorious autumn when MDI simply takes your breath away. We hiked the mountains, and the shoreline, we wandered the downtown Bar Harbor (where her family lived at the time) shops where I was bowled over by small town living. Jen went into one store where the owner asked her about her college paper and basically knew every detail of Jen’s life. And then they proceeded to trade stories, one funnier than the next. Because here is the great secret about Maine that you will not know if you have never visited: Mainers are the funniest people in the US. They are the best storytellers, the driest of humors. Jen told us her dreams every morning at college; and I believe I needed the Heimlich maneuver about five times as I choked with laughter. More on that later. Not the Heimlich. The stories.
So my point here today is not to show MDI. That’s tomorrow and the next day and the next day…but only if you promise never to visit. You see, the island is getting very very full. Starting a decade ago or so, cruise ships began coming to Bar Harbor. People found out that Acadia, New England’s only national park, is simply the most profoundly beautiful place on Earth, and instead of having hikes to ourselves, there are now days that they close the Park Loop road due to traffic. Please stay away. It’s horrible.
I have taken my kids with me a couple of times to MDI. I have mixed feelings about doing so as part of my relax and recharge there is hanging out with my friend Jen, wandering the coastline in front of her house, eating lobster all day every day. Kids change that. This time I didn’t even take my dog for two reasons: 1. Tucker and Acadia, my two favorite Maine coon cats would hide, and 2. Katie Puppy is just dumb enough to chase the ever-present porcupines.
This year was absolutely perfect. Middle of June so fewer people on the hikes. Warm weather with cool evenings. I was a little early on lobster season but you can always find some. Jen had time to spend with me and we explored new places — Schoodic Peninsula and Garland Farm–and old ones too. I am torn between telling you about them and keeping them all to myself. And the amazing moments with the storytellers of Maine–the tree remover who told us of his lobsterman son, Jen’s cousin the builder who was building a stunning home on one of the lakes.
For now, I shall tell you that the best of Maine is the tides. Where my friend lives the tide comes high up towards her yard, then drops away with huge swaths of rocks and deep squealchy grey mud. Clams send up spittoons of water. Seagulls come and drop shells to break on the rocks. Sea glass arrives and leaves. I could walk her sea-yard every day–oh wait, I do. Every morning and every glorious sunset. Not really sure why we ever leave her property.
More tomorrow. Soul food.