That Old Summer Feeling
Didn’t set my alarm this Tuesday morning, but I was still up at five. Except for one summer project, teaching is all done for me until September. Having worked in the same community for thirty-two years, people I meet every day know my primary profession. “On vacation now?” they say.
“From one thing,” I answer. Most don’t know I’ve always worked other jobs because I couldn’t raise a family on just a teacher salary. Now that my children are grown and gone I could live on it, but I’ve come to like my sidelines too and I don’t want to give them up. I haven’t had a whole summer off since before I started a paper route in grammar school, but I have a more flexible schedule during summer and I do get away more often.
This year I’m heading to Cape Breton Island for a week with my wife. I’ve never been to Nova Scotia and I’m looking forward to it. She’ll walk the beaches while I explore the island. There’s a local Maine history angle there in the sieges of Fortress Louisbourg during the 18th century. Joseph Frye, founder of Fryeburg, fought there with other members of his family and one was killed. British forces later destroyed the stone fortification but it’s been rebuilt by the Canadian government. It’s said to have rivaled Gibraltar in it’s time. I’ve been reading about it for years and I’m anxious to take it in. That should consume a day or two. Another thing that interests me about Cape Breton is the Celtic flavor there. Settlers from the Scottish Highlands came in the early 1800s and Irish from Newfoundland a bit later. That mix and its relative isolation since has incubated interesting blends of music and dance, and I want to take in as much of both as I can. The land itself is wild and beautiful coming down to the sea sharply as it does, and that should inspire lots of photographs.
One of my best hours last summer was spent photographing Arctic Terns flying and diving for their lunch in Georgetown, Maine with my then brand-new Nikon D-60. Looking at those shots brings me right back there.
In August, I’ll visit Cape Cod for a week in Osterville. Haven’t been there for many years and I want to see what’s changed. I’ve never been to Nantucket and I’ll take a ferry there for a day. Been reading much about whaling the last few years and I feel like I know the island already - as it was in the 19th century anyway. I wonder how much of that remains. Haven’t been to Provincetown for forty-two years and I know that’s changed a lot. Do I dare go? Maybe.
In the interim, I’ll be talking to a group of people in Bridgton about my columns. I’m told to expect both friend and foe at a “brown bag lunch” in the Bridgton Municipal Building on Wednesday, July 29th. Should be fun.
Whenever I can fit it in, I want to explore locations where Indians settled in Lovell and North Fryeburg via kayak. It’s an old interest and I’ve been doing more research on it lately. I found my first arrowhead a couple of weeks ago, and with all the rain we’ve had this spring I may find a few more along the banks - now that I know better where to look.
Then there are the hills of western Maine which are endlessly fascinating. There are still some to the north and east I haven’t explored, but I’ve been studying maps of old settlements there within 20-25 miles of Lovell. There’s hostility to ATVs on back roads to the south of Lovell, but not so much to the north. I have leg problems and I need to use a 4-wheeler to get back into abandoned neighborhoods which abound in the hills of northern New England.
Then there’s the honey-do list - rather short this year, thank God. I’ve finally reached a point in life where I don’t think I have to do everything myself anymore. Now I actually hire people for the bigger projects and do only the little ones that take a day or two. I had to force myself to have fun last summer and it was difficult at the beginning. This year it’s coming easier. School is out and I’m remembering how I used to feel as a boy with time to play.
It feels good.