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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 44.9653, -69.1086
Today is my birthday. Another ride around the sun completed. For as many years as I can remember, April 21 has always been a beautiful day, and today was no exception. I have always felt lucky that I was born in late April, a month of true spring, blossoming trees and flowers, the singing of the peepers, delicate scents to delight the senses, a softness in the air, the reawakening of the earth. Unfortunately, this is not true in April in Maine; it will take another three weeks until we see evidence of all this new life unfolding, and I am totally impatient waiting for winter to release us from its awful grip, especially this year even though I wasn't here for most of it.
My youngest daughter came home for this Easter/birthday weekend; her presence made these special days even more of a celebration. She prepared many of my favorite rawfoods meals, and even a new rawfoods birthday cake I found in the current PETA magazine. (It was delicious.) What a delight it is to see your grown-up children so accomplished, being responsible, contributing to society, caring, self-sufficient and happy adults! Much is right in the world when parents can see this with their offspring. It is one of the greatest presents we can receive.
Easter was also a gift. The sun shone all day, and at nearly 60F/15C it was almost warm enough for me to leave off one of the many layers (usually 5) I wear when living in Maine. Our big old farmhouse is too chilly for my comfort, so I wear lots of layers to keep warm (sometimes even a coat), except in the evenings when I am sitting right in front of the fire. Every year after it gets warm, people comment on how much weight I have lost, but that's very funny since I always weigh the same, and only take off layers and layers of clothing! Removable adipose tissue. It feels like such freedom to only wear two or three layers during Maine summers! Such freedom of movement, fewer restrictions. I fantasize about living in a climate where I only have to wear ONE layer of clothing; how wonderful that would be.
We took several pleasant long walks this long holiday weekend; on Saturday we checked to see if the trails in the City Forest near the university were snow or mud-free (not yet), but they were good enough to do a five mile trek. On Sunday we just walked down our dirt road; since there are so few roads here, the minimum loop is 4 1/2 miles, a nice amble. And today was so beautiful, after dropping Laila off at the bus station we went back to the City Forest and walked another longish loop there. A few bikes braved the soft trails, but it was nothing like when it's warm and runners, walkers, bikers, and dogs all delight in traipsing through the woods. City Forest is a social experience as well as a respite from the city, even though our cities here have none of the stress and congestion, noise and worry that can be found in more populated areas.
Here is one funny story about our initiation into living in the central Maine area. After leaving our first 4th of July fireworks display held over the Penobscot River in Bangor, we expected a traffic jam from all the cars leaving the parking areas at the same time. Having lived in Boston for many years, one did not even think of driving into the city to watch the fireworks! There would be no place to park a car, plus trying to get out afterwards might have taken until July 10. In Boston extra subways are always put on after the fireworks, and the MBTA going home is free, so any sane person plans on taking the (enormously crowded but tons of fun) T home. But this was Bangor, where we had to wait maybe five minutes until the roads cleared. We couldn't believe it. Where was all the traffic? There simply wasn't enough to even cause a small traffic jam. Welcome to Maine, the way life should be.
There is one thing that has marred this April here in central Maine; I have yet to hear the peepers' singing from the pond across from our house, or any other wet area we've travelled by. At first I thought it had simply been too cold and snowy, that it would take longer this year for them to announce their mating, but yesterday I heard the wood frogs. Wood frogs' songs follow the peepers; the wood frogs' songs replace the peepers' in the natural progression of frog mating, so if I hear the wood frogs now, what does that mean happened to the peepers? This is very worrisome, as I thought we live in one of the most pristine areas of the country. If the peepers are gone, then something is horribly out of balance. One reason I always try to come home from my winter travelling by April is to hear the singing of the peepers, but this pleasure is insignificant compared to what it means to the balance of the earth if they all died out. I will have to do some research to see if other places have also lost their peepers, or if it's just our area of the state that is affected. It seems obvious that the death of one species impacts all others, but I am still hoping I am wrong and that somehow the peepers will be resurrected, even if out of the usual sequence.
Back to happier thoughts of birthdays. Of course, millions of other people were also born on April 21; I share this day with some well known and very important people: John Muir, Charlotte Bronte, Queen Elizabeth of England (although since the weather is typically so horrible in England in April, her birthday celebrations are postponed until June 21 when the weather is usually better), Max Weber, and Iggy Pop. I salute them all for choosing this day to enter the world.
So, another birthday, a new number, pretty and thoughtful presents, lots of phone calls with happy birthday wishes, very good very dark chocolate (a health food in itself) and other wonderful foods to nourish body and spirit, and the sun to accompany all this as I set off on another ride around the sun. And the promise of warmer weather to come. Birthdays can be such fun, so enjoyable knowing that this one day each year, this ONE DAY, is your special day. It goes by too quickly, as most special days do, but the feeling of being loved and remembered brings a happy warmth that lasts a long time afterwards.
For everyone else, if today is not your birthday, a Happy Unbirthday to you! Make sure to enjoy the ride, each and every day.
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