Winding Down

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August 30th 2015
Published: June 10th 2017
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Geo: 44.3158, -68.3644

It's almost September. We're still camping at Acadia National Park, counting hikers who climb up the Beehive, Day Mt., or Valley Peak this year. Today we were on the Beehive again, but now, even though it's still August, the numbers are less than half what our counts were for most of the summer. It's hot today, unusual for the coast of Maine; temps reached 80F, and coupled with intense sunlight on the exposed mountain peaks, even though I love the sun I seek shade on summits every once in a while. One of the most pleasant things with lower numbers is that we had more time to talk with climbers today. Since we lived in Boston for many years before moving to Maine, we shared stories with a group of young people from that area; one woman will attend Harvard, seeing what life is like on the East coast after doing her undergraduate work at Stanford. Quite a few hikers came from Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina, traveling north in hopes of escaping their state's hot summer weather. And we met many Chinese families; even the older grandparents and little children hike. One couple celebrated turning 70 by climbing up the most difficult trail; she was not quiet about her age or her accomplishment! We also met a man from Hong Kong. It was wonderful talking with him since I had just been there in June; it made me miss Hong Kong again, but the funny thing was he was so happy to be back in Maine: he had missed Acadia and couldn't wait to come back. We were mutually missing each other's backyards.

On both Day Mt. and Valley Peak there are many fewer hikers than on the Beehive, so we frequently have periods of time when there is no one else on the summits. We play hangman or 20 questions, or Bill takes a nap on a comfy rock while I sit and meditate or read a book he lugged up for me. These intervals are like going back in time: there is no cell phone reception or wifi up here so the only sounds we hear are the wind soughing through the trees, bird song, buzzing insects, small animals scampering through the woods (and Bill's snoring); we are surrounded by magnificent trees, looking out over the pacific Atlantic Ocean; the only vehicles we see are sailboats in the harbor or out on the bay. These are peaceful days.

Tonight is a full moon, the sturgeon moon. It was actually last night, but all of these nights are special. I can't see many stars because of the moon, but it's a different experience, walking through shadowy Blackwoods by moonlight. Just like Clement Moore's poem, "The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a luster of mid-day to objects below...", even though we don't have snow (yet) it is bright enough to see easily, even to read by the full moon's light. Such effortless walking! I love looking up and identifying the constellations, but I also love walking at night in the light of the full moon, or watching it rise, huge and orange, reflected over the ocean.

In the mornings, after I pack our lunches for the day and before we leave for our hike, we walk down to the ocean. There's no beach at Blackwoods, but between sites A10 and A12 there is a well-marked path leading down to the rocky coast. We enjoy sitting there, warming ourselves in the sunshine, watching the fog lift, hearing and seeing many birds, working lobster boats, the changing sky, and frequently chatting with other campers and their dogs. Some people venture down the sheer rocks to get closer to the ocean, but I wonder if they are aware of the ocean's power, and how many people get washed away by simply turning their backs and not paying attention to where they are. This doesn't happen every year, but it does happen. Even one time is too many.

By September first Bill will be back in school. I'll still be working with homeschooling families, finishing up their end-of-year assessments, plus seeing homeopathic clients. The endless, effortless energy of the summer is changing; our focus, helped along by the shortening daylight, turns more inward. In Maine, even though the weather can stay warm until late October, we also can expect the first frost to come along at the time of September's full harvest moon (the full moon closest to the equinox --and this year's will also be a total lunar eclipse!), so we'll bring in the plants that have happily summered outdoors and pick the vegetables in the garden. I like summer best; I don't like even thinking of spending months indoors, being cold and having to wear layers and layers of clothes just to go get the mail, or plugging in the car to make sure it starts in the below zero mornings. I dream of living in a place that is warm year 'round, where we don't need either air conditioning or some kind of furnace or woodstove. Endless summer is what I desire, when the sun shines all day and the gentle rains come at night, where plants can grow outdoors and where I can swim and sunbathe and walk barefoot all year long. But I am happy now; summer still has its grip on northern New England. Even though the kids will be back in school, the temps this coming week are supposed to be in the 80-90F range, totally atypical for this time of year, and the sun will still shine with its powerful heat. Such delightful weather! I wish it would stay this way forever.


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