School starts soon. If you are a parent, a teacher, or in any way involved in caring for, or about, a young person, this is not news. And yet, it always seems to catch me by surprise. I am not ready. How it is that, once again, I have failed to make the most of this precious, precious summer? Here I am, staring down the calendar at a date circled in red, and regretting every moment of the past two months not spent camping or on the ocean.
Summer in Maine is the most glorious thing! It is the reward for having made it through March. It is brief, and meant to be enjoyed.
So here is what we are going to do: we are going to take care of the planning needs now (new clothes, clean closets, new notebooks), and then really devote ourselves to being present in the moment and enjoying the last blast of summer. I’ll be sure we pack in an island trip by boat, several more ice cream stops and some swimming – but the final hurrah will be, as it has been for years, a trip up to Eastport for the Pirate Festival.
Yes, that’s right. Have you been? If you have, then you know what I mean. If you have not, gas up the car and get ready. The Eastport Pirate Festival is one of the truly great excursions to make. It is not … um … swanky. It is, however, an all-out homage to fun. From This year it’s going to be held Sept. 7-9. three days (and a few days prior if you’re a local), the entire town gives itself over to piracy. Not the cold, hard truths of historical accuracy, these are the pirates of our imaginations when we were young. There are sword fights in the street. At any moment your kid could have a foam sword thrust into their hands and be challenged to a duel (the winner keeps the sword.) There are bawdy ballads sung at top voice, and there is a general air of giddy mischief. Over breakfast one morning, when my kids were younger, a passing pirate stabbed my kid’s pancake piece with a fork and walked off. Heaven, pure heaven. Be prepared to have “Arrrr” and “matey” figure large in your conversations, join in songs, help pack the cannons, go on the silly boat cruise and taunt the other pirates passing by. While you’re there, take in all that Eastport has to offer.
Downtown, at The Tides Institute, take in the exhibits. They do a remarkable job at maintaining a collection that is meaningful to the town, while bringing in fresh talent and highlighting new artists. Likewise, a stroll through any of the numerous – and I do mean numerous – galleries in town will be time well spent. Some of the very best in emerging art gets hung on the walls in Eastport. If you need a pick-me-up, there are food vendors everywhere and good coffee shops. There are also fantastic little shops all throughout, and one of the sweetest pet stores I’ve ever been in. Most exciting, check out the emerging revitalization of the old cannery! Eastport is making change in a big way, and I am excited to see it happen.
Eastport, as with all of Maine, is struggling with its past (the town borders a Passamaquoddy community, and real and painful truths are still to be explored and understood), and with its future. But partaking in this silly celebration is one way my kids and I will be joining with our neighbors and kindhearted strangers and celebrating our last hurrah of summer.
If we see you there, prepare to be challenged to a duel.
So that is how we, in our family, are going to make the most of what is left of summer and transition into the structure of school routine. What are your plans for making the most of the end of summer? Have you been traveling? What things have you seen, read about, or been thinking of over your summer? What happened that was unexpected? What brought you joy? What are your hopes for the coming fall? Is someone you love starting a new school? A recent graduate embarking on their new life? What is your transition from one stage to the next?
Fall brings quiet and contemplation: a taking stock and a need to set things into place. With so much in our world feeling distinctly out of place, I am eager to know what this means for you.
Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.