Et In Acadia Ego


I met with a gentleman this week who brought his teenaged daughter along for the ride. She waited in reception with our handsome receptionist, CNN, and homework to keep her company while her father and I sat in the conference room and talked about dreary things like shorting and buy/sell disciplines. When we finally emerged, she shook my hand politely and told me that she was studying for school – which starts in two weeks. Two weeks!

When I was a girl, school ended around June 20 or 25, and the next day, we were packed into the car and on our way to Maine. School didn’t start again until (appropriately enough) the day after Labor Day, so we had nearly three months of total freedom. We had such a luxurious feeling of time stretching before us, time we could fill any way we liked: swimming, sailing, painting, visiting friends, going out on our friend’s lobster boat, climbing mountains, tea at Jordan Pond House (you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had their popovers), pool at Geddy’s, buying blueberry coffeecake and chocolate chip cookies from that lady in Southwest Harbor (she sold them out of her kitchen, and if she wasn’t home, you just left the money)…and then there were the Fourth of July Fireworks and Boat Race, the Lab picnic, and the library’s* annual book sale. Life was good.

In those halcyon days, Dad just dropped us off in Bar Harbor or on Sand Beach and came back for us later. He was occupied working in the lab most of the day, but he always found time for us. Of course, his idea of taking us swimming was lying on the beach reading the International Herald Tribune or the New York Times, but he always packed a picnic. Sometimes he even doggy paddled quite grandly, keeping his chin in the air and his eyes open.

While in Maine, we lived in the same cottage across the road from the lab. The biggest danger in those days was crossing the two lane highway to get to the lab or the tiny general store or post office in Salisbury Cove. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can tour the very cottage** we lived in, many summers ago.

My last visit there was in the mid 1990’s with my father and sister. Unsurprisingly, the door wasn’t locked (we never locked it, either – in fact, I’m not sure it had a lock), and we walked right in. It was exactly the same, and had the same sweet, familiar smell of resiny pine boards warmed in the sun, surrounded by fragrant balsam firs. Our heights were still pencilled on the wood beside the door in the kitchen.

Dad was still the tallest.

*How I adored that library! I can’t count how many hours I spent in its dusty embrace. I wish they still stamped library books and had those little cards in the cute pockets. Since we came back every summer and/or were affiliated with the lab, we were able to take out as many books as year-round patrons, a benefit I always appreciated.

**Looks like the kitchen has been fancied up a bit, but the living room and bedrooms look he same.