July 27, 2014

Maine Family Travel: Summering like Mainers

A foggy morning at the tidepools. Popham Beach, Maine.

Still Maine sun-kissed and bursting with the happiest of memories, we have been home now for two weeks. The transition back into Richmond Summer life has been easy and good. Our on-vacation routine is working well here too as we continue to seek out active mornings and lazier afternoons. Our first week home felt like a frenzy of family time—a Sears family dogpile—as we were all so enthusiastic to catch up with Poppa and to find time together. We were overflowing with everything Maine and yet delighted to be home with half of Summer yet to unfold.

Through our region runs the James River; it is at the heart of our life in Richmond and its banks are not only the backdrop for much of our adventuring outdoors, but also a source of entertainment and inspiration for living and pursuing the BoldHeart life as we do. There are several bridges that cross the river and whenever we drive over them I sing out to the boys: "Theeeere's the riverrrr! Isn't it beautiful? We sure do love our city!" Roscoe and Merritt join in with fist pumps, or a woohoo!, or their own observation of the boulder studded waters as they flow Southeast to the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes the kids begin the conversation even before I remember to, and I'm happy knowing that my little gratitude ritual has integrated into their way of taking notice of what's around them.

When in Maine my eyes were wide open for the details and beauty of the region, from the coast to the city to the highlands. It was that acute level of awareness that it seems only vacation can afford. An intermission, where the responsibilities of regular life and routine scatter out to somewhere else and the romantic unfamiliar newness of what's right in front of you is everything you need to feel contented and alive. I had a strong intention to find that space going into the trip and Maine's magic made it easy.  

Maine was water, water, everywhere. We lived lakeside on a peninsula, and wherever we ventured was bordered or paralleled by more water: inlets, harbors, a river, a stream, or open ocean.

In our first weeks away I remember thinking how our little river back home just paled in comparison to the majestic waterscapes we were being gifted with in Maine. I shouldn't have worried that apathy might set in upon our return home though, because Virginia in Summer is as beautiful, albeit familiar, as anything we encountered up North. It was nice to still be wearing my Maine colored glasses when we crossed the Virginia border and journeyed South through the I-95 corridor to home. When I pay attention, nature's landscape blows me away no matter where it lives.

When Andy left in mid-June, after two dreamy and adventure filled weeks, our family vacation bubble burst and I spent a few reluctant days talking myself down, wondering why had I chosen a 6 week stay? By then I had a really good perspective on Maine, we had seen and explored so much of the state already, and I had been spoiled in having someone to share the feel good highs and the load of parenting responsibilities, while also finding the relative luxury of free time here and there to exercise and write. At the midway point of our trip, three additional weeks felt excessive for a solo parenting stint and my first inclination was to wonder why we were still there at all.

Though three or four weeks would have been sufficient, I'm so glad we stayed as long as we did.

The last three weeks were more relaxed, lazier, like the quintessential Summer away that I had craved. We spent more afternoons pinking up under the sunshine at the lake, and making friends with our neighbors. We had time to host visitors and to share a glimpse of our Maine rapture with those we love when my parents stopped in for a few days on their way to meet friends further up the coast, and another of our friends from home joined us for a long weekend.

Proximity and time also made it possible to rendezvous with Nicole who writes at Adventures in Tullyland. We've been reading eachother's lives for the last 4 years and to finally meet up in person was so nice. The kids and I also reunited with special family friends whom we first met through our birthing class when I was pregnant with Roscoe. Connecting with kindred mama spirits while away from home was really meaningful and I'm glad that we happened to be near to where they were vacationing in neighboring states, and that our stay overlapped with theirs.

Those last twenty-one days allowed us to revisit our favorite spots many times over, which gave us a more intimate knowledge of Maine and a sense of connection to the land that we wouldn't have left with had we stayed only long enough to experience the highlights.  I like to think we got to live like real Mainers. 
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