Here it is the last Friday in August and the summer of 2009 is nearing a close. We’re having record breaking heat here in San Diego where it’s 97 degrees at the coast and if you go inland you can find your way to 120 degrees, that is if you can make it that far before shriveling up to something resembling a Fig Newton. According to the weather map my sister Anna is enjoying a nice sunny 66 degree day back in Cape Elizabeth (Portland) Maine. Speaking of Maine I feel the need to recap our wonderful 3 week vacation back in New England. It was glorious. The weather was perfect, even the small amount of rain we had which Lauren and I had been missing. We got to hang out with Amber, Tommie, Maya and the Bo and the Dee (Lauren’s parents) for a while in Magnolia. One of the first orders of business was to EAT LOBSTER! We succeeded by hooking up with local Gloucester Lobsterman Chuck Parisi at his boat just as he came in after hauling his traps. We bought ten alive and kick’ in beauties, rushed them home and popped them in the pot. Mmmm….two lobsters each with melted butter, corn of the cob and some Ipswich Ale IPA….I was in heaven. We took a few sunset walks around Shore Road. I walked up to Dunkin Donuts every morning for a cup of coffee and kept running into people I haven’t seen for years and we just picked up where we left off. We saw our dear friends Doug and Ellen Guidry, had a cookout and sang songs around a wood fire accompanied by guitar, mandolin, a newly Doug-built washtub string base and a “boom-box” instrument that Jonathan Phalen’s dad bought about 20 years ago at FAO Schwartz. We went swimming at Black Beach at low tide, caught crabs and dug clams out of the sand for fun and then let them go and we went swimming at Half Moon Beach. Lauren went out with her friends sometimes while I just went out with Amber and Tommie or just met the locals. We walked in Ravenswood Park. We danced at the Cruise port Terminal on a Tuesday night with a cast of many friends and even an old flame of Lauren’s to the music of Bob Cooney and Mike McNair…..Aimee…what you going to do?.....I think…I could stay with you….for a while maybe longer…if I dooo…..
The next phase of the trip was to head Down East to the easternmost point in the United States…Lubec, Maine where my youngest brother, Basil III was getting married to Kelly. This was a good time to see and hang out with a large chunk of my family all at once. In addition to seeing my mother, brother, sisters and all my beautiful nieces and nephews I was able to spend time with my Aunt Helen and Cousin Susan. It was the first time I had seen Helen since my Uncle Don had passed away last December. The day before the wedding Helen, Susan, Tommie, Maya, Lauren and myself went over to Campobello Island, Canada and took a tour of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s summer home, inspected the beauty of the island and yes, ate more seafood. At the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding there was yet another campfire where many of us older adults sang impromptu campfire songs and show tunes while the kids ran around the field chasing and scaring each other in the dark. The wedding went off with the appropriate “hitch”. Have a blast Basil and Kelly and thanks for everything.
Now we were heading to the mountains of Maine near the New Hampshire border and there are no quick and easy roads that go east and west in Maine, but that’s okay because I’m on vacation and I do not want quick or even easy. I love the curvy, windy, wooded two lane road and if it’s dirt, all the better. Our first stop though was to stop in and visit my sister Lily and the army of Deans. They live in Orono near Bangor which is on the way westward. My sister Lily and her husband Artie are a prolific couple and have 9 children. When we arrived they were all there and so we were lucky enough to see everyone and spend a couple of hours together. It was short but so sweet. Lily’s kids are so well mannered it scares me. I would joke with Amber and Eva occasionally that we should have shipped them up to spend a summer with Lily. The kids offered and brought us out coffee, tea and water. I was able to order a special espresso with mine. Then they just hung out while we sat in the garden they built for Lily while she was recovering from her breast cancer. They participated in our conversation right down to the youngest. Some are talented musicians, others like art, all of them are loving.
Later that night we made it to our destination of Bethel, Maine. Not that long ago my Aunt Helen informed me that this was where Uncle Don’s mother grew up as a child. We rented a nice house in the village after spending the first night in a B&B. Lauren went swimming in Howard Pond, we had chicken fried steak at the Funky Red Barn and because Lauren was worn out I went by myself to “Hoot-Nite” at Suds Pub where every Thursday the local talent plays live music and yes the locals are talented. On another fine evening we had some Korean Food at Cho-Sun with our friends Cynthia and Paul Handlen. We took in the pace of Bethel which is mellow and slow. How slow? Well one morning I went to talk a walk down by the Androscoggin River and as I was headed down Main Street Paul Handlen noticed me and stopped his jeep in the middle of the street while we chatted for a minute or so. No worries, no traffic, no rush....when I compare that scene with what happens when I head out around here in San Diego I realize I am at the very opposite end of the spectrum.
After five nights in Bethel we stopped in to visit my brother Erik and Amy, Logan and Rachel. They bought a house last year in Saco, Maine and it’s a really nice home in a really nice neighborhood. I’m happy for them. This too was too short a visit. We then made it back to Gloucester that night so that early the next morning Amber, Tommie and me could help out long time friend and coach J.D. MacEachern in the first ever Gloucester Triathlon. Our job was to help direct runners at a critical intersection where on the first lap they had to take a left and on the second lap they had to go straight to the finish line. Because faster athletes tend to pass the slower ones some runners at this point would need to go different directions and despite our bullhorn instructions, signs, flags and others yelling out the same instruction we realized many of these participants were in pain. They had already swum 1/3 mile in the harbor, biked 15 miles and were now finishing up a 2.9 mile run. I’m sure their bodies were trying to pump as much oxygen to their leg muscles and all their ears could hear was…wha,wha,wha,wha,left,,,wha,wha,wha,straight. So a few went straight when they should have gone left but overall it went well. I can’t recall how many times we met up with friends and acquaintances or how much seafood we ate on this vacation but I can tell you it was all good and on the one to ten scale of enjoyment this summer vacation of 2009 was voted a big 10 by both judges.