February 4, 2023

Northern Exposure

Rehoboth Ramblings


In this summer of drought, I’ve found a way to make it rain. Leave town. While vacationing in Maine in late August, I checked out the Boston Globe’s website to see this headline: “Rehoboth receives 7 inches of rain.”  What? It was especially remarkable considering that this part of the state usually doesn’t get that much coverage in the Globe (though the Globe is far more likely to report the latest Rehoboth news than the nearby Providence Journal is). I’m not sure how much rain we got at home but it’s nice to see green grass again.

On that day up north it was sunny and beautiful at Popham Beach, a few twisty miles south of Bath. It’s a big, long and wide sandy beach (unusual for Maine) that I had never visited before. Dotted with huge boulders, the shoreline is spectacular but the water was a bit cold even for wading. Anyway, the last time we missed a deluge at home while far away on vacation was in March 2010, when we heard news of the flood that washed away the Wheeler Street Bridge while we were visiting New Mexico. It felt strange to be so far away while hearing about floods at home and looking at the Santa Fe River, which appeared to have about six inches of water in it.

One thing that was noticeable in Maine this August was the number of canine visitors. It was as if Maine had issued a decree declaring you had to bring your dog on vacation. Is it like this everywhere this summer? Some of these dogs looked more hot and frazzled than happy (afternoons were still quite warm even that far north). The last time we brought a dog on vacation to Maine was over four decades ago. I have a photo of a much younger me with Jackie, a Sheltie now gone for almost 30 years, at Acadia.

It was complicated to travel with a dog then but, lesson not learned, we also took him with us on a trip to the New York/New Jersey area, visiting relatives who are now also long gone. I recall us driving across Manhattan on 42nd Street, back when Times Square was still pretty sleazy, and Jackie barking furiously at everyone on the street as if to voice his disapproval. He also had a barking frenzy when the car stalled at the toll booth on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Ah, memories.

It’s hard to take a bad photo of the Maine coast, unless it’s pouring rain. Even a bit of fog only adds to the atmosphere. Every vista looks like a postcard, from Portland Head Light to Pemaquid Light, or looking at Burnt Island lighthouse from a sailboat in Boothbay Harbor, then capturing a brilliant sunset at nearby Ocean Point. Both the white-capped waves and the brooding clouds above are ever changing and dramatic.

 Of course, taking goofy vacation photos is a must, such as posing in front of the giant boot outside the LL Bean flagship store. I’ve never seen the point of this store always being open, however popular it is. Who needs to shop at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday?  Freeport is not exactly Las Vegas. I also feel sorry for anyone who lives near the place.

One of the highlights of a visit to Boothbay Harbor includes the weekly summer concerts held in front of the library by the all-volunteer Hallowell Community Band, who are quite good. They play old favorites by Strauss and Sousa, Broadway hits, and light classical pieces. Just the perfect touch of small town New England on the last night of our visit to Maine.

Nothing says your vacation is over more clearly than encountering heavy traffic creeping along Rt. 128 in Boston on your return home. It’s hard to tell what traffic tangles are being caused by the temporary (we hope) Orange Line closure and other MBTA woes, and what’s just a typical afternoon crawl. Sympathies to anyone who is dealing with commuting in and around Boston these days.

Back home again, nothing says summer is almost over more clearly than the squeaky squabbles at the bird feeder as the tiny but determined hummingbirds tank up, preparing for their long journey south. I’ll really miss you little guys and hope to see you next summer. Safe travels!


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