We are back home. I’ve missed blogging and routine, and after 28 hours of travel by car, I agree with Dorothy that “there’s no place like home.” But what a beautiful trip we had to Maine and then to grandparents in New Jersey. There will be more on all of that later … for now, a post that is an ode of sorts to Maine. It was lovely. In case you don’t believe me, some pictures to prove that.
We trekked up the East coast to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and two bright and handsome nephews who live in Portland, Maine – their home since my doctor-brother started residency there. It was a brave and bold choice to make three years ago as a couple with a one-year-old who had basically lived their entire lives in South Carolina or Georgia. But they love it there, except for wishing the winter to be shorter and family to live closer.
After our second visit to Maine in the summer (and this time with older twins and a string of gloriously sunny days), we have caught the passion shared by all who love “Down East” (as Maine is known to true Mainers). A few highlights from our trip, under the category of what we love about Maine –
- There are bike paths through woods even in a relatively metropolitan area. And they take you to beautiful destinations, like this lighthouse below.
- People fly gigantic (the biggest I’ve ever seen) kites at the field by this lighthouse. In fact, they have a kite club that meets every Saturday morning, which we gleefully happened upon.
- Downtown Portland, Maine, feels like Europe. Diverse people, cobblestone paving, street musicians who are actually quite talented, dozens of foodie restaurants and cafes beckoning me to come in with a book and my journal. Strange though it may sound, being there reminded me of my summer in Ireland.
- The weather. Cloudless blue skies, long days with early sunrises and late sunsets, allowed us to explore the beautiful outdoors to our heart’s content (well – almost – at least as much as we could within our four preschoolers’ limits, of course).
- The people! I’m sorry, South, but you ain’t got nothing on a Mainers’ neighborliness. Kids gather on the streets to play after dinner while their parents sip drinks and bring out tikki torches and music. One evening my sister-in-law and I were sitting on the front stoop, and a neighbor brought over a plate of homemade salmon cakes and aioli for us to enjoy as an appetizer. Their neighbors met us and greeted us each time we were coming or going. They have mowed my brother’s yard for him and offered A/C units on a (rare) hot summer day. They lent us bikes so that we could have a two-family-with-four-kids bike ride to the lighthouse (see #1). Community? Um, yes, please!
- Water, water, water. Everywhere we went there was a harbor or a port or a lake or a coast. It is Portland, after all. A highlight was the ferry ride we took to Peaks’ Island. Perfect delight for the 4-and-under crowd particularly! Especially since I’m pretty sure my daughters were thinking “fairy” ride v. “ferry” – added a magical element to the experience for them.
- Holy Donuts. You have not tried donuts until you’ve tasted a homemade HOLY DONUT from this local shop. Flavors included chocolate sea-salt, bacon, pomegranate, lemon, maple, and blueberry (of course).
- Farm-style dining. We sat outside on picnic tables in the midst of a field of wildflowers and herbs to eat gourmet fresh-from-the-farm food that was perfectly portioned and so delicious I don’t have words to describe it.
- A picnic of pizza at a park overlooking the port. Look at that alliteration. As wonderful as it sounds.
- My family. I know that without them living in Maine, it wouldn’t have the same appeal. We had days filled with lingering conversations over meals; fun cousin play; stories read by Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Nicole; faith and life sharing; and much laughter. I am deeply thankful for such friends who are also family. My heart is full in that joy mixed with grief kind of way. Joy for the time spent together; grief that we are so far away from them. Until next summer, then … ?!