After a lovely two weeks in Maine, I’m back in Maryland. A little recap of my vacation: I stayed at my parents’ house in the town where I lived from fourth grade to high school graduation. My hometown is on the small side, located along a river in central Maine. The closest I can think of a fictional comparison is to the town Empire Falls from the Richard Russo novel of the same name.
My vacation activities were like a sampler dish of Maine. I hiked Bigelow Mountain in western Maine with the youth group of my parents’ church. My cousin and I took a trip to Mount Desert Island and visited some old haunts (I was born on the Island, and worked summers there while in college.) My parents’ blueberry bushes had an abundance of berries and I helped pick them as a light summer rain fell.
There were many boat outings during my vacation. My dad is actively trying to convert me to kayaking (both of my parents recently acquired their own.) I kayaked on a lake, on the ocean, and on a river. Sea kayaking was definitely my favorite because it feels more adventurous, and also I adore the Maine coast.
I had some pretty cool wildlife encounters as well. On the hike, we spotted a squirrel running away with the white sphere of a mushroom in its mouth. Toads and a snake also made an appearance. One time I found myself alone on the trail and heard a small rustling. I stood still and watched and soon a shrew came scampering around in the forest debris, making soft squeaking noises. Standing still on a different day’s hike also afforded me a front row view of a red squirrel chattering at me, stamping its feet and brandishing its tail.
On the sea kayaking trip, we saw seals, as I mentioned in an earlier post. They reminded me of dogs in their mannerisms.
While at the lake for a church picnic, a pair of minks burst out of the bushes chasing each other around, basically ignoring the open-mouthed children nearby.
My hometown’s river was the scene for birds of prey, including two juvenile bald eagles who were making a terrible racket. On one trip, I was able to kayak very close to one perched in a tree. (Unfortunately I had no camera with me at the time!) We also saw a loon on the river.
On one day, I went to the wedding of my parents’ neighbors and afterward to my ten year high school reunion. I had feelings of ambivalence about my reunion. Though I had some good times in high school, mainly with the music groups and outdoors club, my overall social life was meager and rather lonely. I made some great friends in college and after college and subsequently, high school became like another country to me. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself having engaging conversations with my former classmates at the reunion. Some were not people I had many interactions with in high school, and I felt in some ways like it took a high school reunion to actually “meet” them.
A feisty elderly lady who I had known since I was nine died on my first day of vacation. She was 96 and I was glad that I was able to be there for the graveside service, which her family held on what would have been her 97th birthday. One of my memories of her: she taught my sisters and I to put food coloring in the vases of Queen Anne’s lace flowers. The flowers turn the color of the dye.
As I gear up for a return to work tomorrow, I feel very satisfied with my vacation. It was a chance to get out of my routine self, reconnect with people I don’t normally see, and indulge in natural beauty.