MICHAEL FALCO Published: August 27, 2021
“Mike! Do you mean to tell us you are still up in Maine?” Yes, is the answer – to this question as E-mailed from the inquiring minds of friends. It’s picture-postcard perfect here. ‘Tis difficult to leave behind ocean and lakeside beauty. Frankly, I’m at delicious liberty to stay and visit a little longer. Certainly, the real-world beckons. Yes, I’ll drive home to New York State. Yes, schools will reopen. But in this late summer moment in time, I am savoring every possible visual image. Perhaps these images, breezes, the smell of pine trees and unspoiled earth will carry me through the coming winter.
Don’t look now but fall is already in the air up here in Maine. This is unsettling to me as I am still on “summer vacation.” There is no denying the bright autumn color that is painting the trees all around me. Nor is there any denying the drop in temperature. Autumn color in late August! Is it always like this in Maine? “No,” the local residents respond. “Maybe a severe winter is on the way!”
The lake (huge Damariscotta Lake) was a roar of weekend activity. Speed boats, pontoon (party) boats, jet skis, kayaks, canoes. Speaking of canoes…… Yours Truly was intrigued by the canoe tied off at the private dock here. There had been a lot of rain prior to my arrival I was told. If I could just get that canoe tipped over and empty out the collected rain water what a fine, quiet time I could have scoping out the shore line. Two of us got the canoe over, emptied, and ready for a ride. “Let’s take the canoe to that nearby little island,” I said. “Let’s go for a swim,” my friend from college days suggested. We had just worked on the canoe; canoe, first. Swim, later. Off we went in the canoe. Two drifters and explorers! We got out to the little island (barely a rock outcrop from which shrubs and two small trees have taken root). What happened next is, I remain convinced, a pure act of premeditation. Before I had time to take a deep breath the canoe “mysteriously” capsized. My friend wanted to swim and, by God, swim we did! A one-handed swim with the other hand grabbing an edge of canoe! Slipping and sliding up the rocks to the little island we got the canoe on land (and once again emptied although this time it was filled to the rim). The entire episode elicited gales of laughter from my comrade. I had to perform the yeoman’s share of labor hauling and draining that canoe as my dear friend was rendered all but useless due to convulsive laughter. Good thing I’m not afraid of deep water (although with friends like this we’re usually in over our head).
A rescue party (other people enjoying the lake) saw the commotion and boated out to see if we needed a hand. We were fine (in a gales of laughter sort of way). We tied a line of rope to the canoe and the hosts were more than gracious by hauling it back to shore. We were left to get back to shore as best we could, which served us right. The day before this episode we were swimming in the frigid cold Atlantic Ocean. By comparison the lake water felt warm. We took what seemed like forever, in a summer manner of thinking, laughing and swimming and floating and conversing in depth (not in fathoms but rather about all our shared memories).
Maine’s state slogan was changed in the early 2000’s, from “Vacationland” to “The Way Life Should Be.” As our cheerful party floated in a location of geographic splendor it certainly felt that this is how life should be. It occurred to me; wherever home is, local people don’t always take advantage of what is in one’s own back yard so to speak. I don’t want all of this to become so familiar that I never take any notice. I want it to remain a special place. Sometimes the places we visit and savor for only a moment; are the ones we return to over and over in the heart.
I’m telling you; this place is making a romantic out of this otherwise New Yorker!