Summer in Maine is more than just a season.
It’s a temporal “yes, but” counter-argument to winter. It’s a full sensory event, a magazine cover come to life. The masterpiece any tourism bureau would like to claim.
Summer in Maine is light. It’s the soft dawn of a new day, the sun sparkling off the water and piercing into open windows whose curtains flap in the morning breeze. It’s the crisp filter of midday that makes the blues deeper, the yellows yolkier and the whites puffier. It’s the orangey pink of sunsets that seem to draw the eye to the end of the earth, and draw the day to the edge of night.
The passage of time is elusive, hiding under picnic tables and picnic blankets, buried at the bottom of a bicycle basket, drowned out by the happy calls of children echoing in a cove. Schedules get lost. Bedtime is a suggestion.
Summer in Maine is sticky. It’s ice cream dripping down a cone and curving along a wrist. It’s removing a gooey marshmallow from a long stick that’s just been pulled from the flame of a fire pit. Watermelon juice puddles on chins.
Sunscreen must be slathered. Bug spray must be sprayed. A sprinkling of sea salt sticks to damp skin. The nights are hot, best tackled with a good fan and an ocean view.
Summer in Maine is color. Sunflowers climb, hydrangeas scale, wild flowers riot, above and over and around white picket fences. A rainbow draws handles from one end of a silver rain cloud to another. Bikers whiz by in a blaze of neon.
The boundary between ocean and shoreline is drawn with blue awnings and striped umbrellas. Weathered brown deck chairs bridge beach to sea grass. White Adirondacks face out to sea, standing guard from under trees or next to gardens or in the middle of a green rolling hill.
Summer in Maine is sharp. The pebbles under bare feet. The sea glass collected in the palm of a hand. The bee sting in the pad of a finger.
Lobster claws are wrapped in ribbons of elastic that punctuate the dark interior of a cooler. Tiny spears force the lobster meat out of the shell. The smell of butter breaks through.
Summer in Maine is contrast. The sun shines here, while the rain pours down just over there. The heat of an August afternoon disappears with one plunge into Sebago Lake. Highways clog with out-of-staters aiming for relaxation.
A thunderstorm barrels in, with gusty winds and soaking rains. The power goes out, and everyone rushes for cover. And then the bids chirp, the sun returns, and steam rises off the pavement.
Summer in Maine is indulgent. Hammocks are for napping. Food is for frying, especially if it comes from the sea and is suitable for consumption on top of a red-and-white checked tablecloth. Blueberries should be so tart they make your eyes tear.
Cars are best left idle. Better modes of transportation include those that must be paddled, or whose wheels can be pedaled. If an engine is required, it is preferably visible at the back, and steered with a hand.
Summer in Maine is community. It’s the friends who moved away and come home. It’s the sidewalk art festivals and the concerts on the pier. It’s the golf foursomes, the tennis duos, and the thousands of runners. It’s the uniformed campers paddling near a dock, or hiking a trail, or stenciling leaves.
It’s us, sharing in the reward for another winter survived. A break from measuring months in snow totals, from standing outside only with our heads bent down, from scraping ice off windshields and boots. We venture out, we smile, we marvel.
Maine. Isn’t this the way life should be?