Monday, July 31, 2006

The Maine Report

Maine was wonderful!
First off, the weather and the location were beautiful. Scott’s grandmother’s house is right on a tidal river, and you can see the ocean just across the opposite shore. The weather was warm and sunny, so even though the water was cold (56°F), it didn’t take much encouragement to jump in and cool off.

Next, the people I met are wonderful; everyone was so warm and welcoming. There were 40+ people there: grandma, 6 children, 16 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren, and all of the in-laws and significant others. And don’t forget the 4 big dogs. But it didn’t feel overwhelming – it just felt fun. I’m sure it helps that I’ve grown up going to big family gatherings (my mom is one of 6 kids, and I’m one of 18 grandchildren), but there’s no substitute for warm hospitality and taking the time to reach out to “the new kid.” In particular, it was great to spend time with Scott’s parents and his sister Julie again.

Now for a rundown of the weekend.
We left on Thursday afternoon, but missed our flight to Manchester. Instead of flying out the next morning, we caught a flight to Hartford where Julie picked us up. We spent the night in Amherst and then drove up on Friday morning… which took us longer than expected because we had to (1) stop by the Manchester airport to pick up our checked bag and (2) change a flat tire. We arrived around 2 pm, just 15 hours late!

The first round of introductions started, we ate lunch, and then we hit the beach for some reading and sunning. A nice big pasta dinner, a little bridal shower for one of the soon-to-be-wed grandchildren and her fiancé, a game of Asshole, and then off to bed. (The family rented out the cottage across the street, and Scott and I got to sleep in the screen porch!)

The sun woke me up at 5:45 the next morning, so I took myself for a long walk on the beach. After breakfast and coffee, Scott and I went for a 4-mile run on the beach. We hung out, read, chatted, lunched, beached, fried, and got cleaned up for 5 pm family photos. (Incredibly efficient photos! I was so impressed! These guys were pros.)

At 7 o’clock, everyone gathered on the deck for a short grace and thanksgiving. Scott’s grandmother talked about how wonderful it was that her family all loved each other and got along with each other. I couldn’t agree more.

Then dinner began. First, steamers. Boxes of them. Scott said they’re some of the best he’s ever had. (They’re certainly the best I’ve ever had, but I don’t have much history to go on.) Then lobster! Robbie gave me excellent coaching on how to dissect mine, and I had a great time. Legs, tail, claws. Not too much spilling/spurting/dripping, at least no more than my neighbors.

By the time dinner was finished, I was exhausted. The combination of an early morning, 8 miles of exercise, all the sun and sand, and a full belly meant that I spent a few hours reading in relative calm. (Scott comes from a family of avid readers, so I wasn’t the only one retreating this way.) The evening ended with a stroll into downtown Ogunquit for ice cream sundaes. It was crowded with tourists and fun to see things so lively.

I slept in until 7 on Sunday morning and went on another morning run with Scott. We had perfect weather. Even though the sun was already starting to get hot, there was a cool ocean breeze and a little bit of (quite beautiful) fog. His parents and aunt took us on a walk to Perkin’s Cove, via a path called the Marginal Way that reminded me of a more dramatic version of the Lakewalk. While the landscape around the house was filled with sandy beaches, this walk brought us past the typical rocky Maine coastline. We spent some time climbing around on the rocks and examining tide pools. Scott’s dad gave each of us a dollar to spend at the candy store at Perkin’s Cove, and Scott wisely advised me to spend it on salt-water taffy.

Another lazy afternoon of lunch, reading, sunning, walking on the beach. At 5, it was time to go. It felt too soon.

Scott and I managed to catch our flight out, and got back to Baltimore safe and sound. A long bus ride to the District, a long metro ride to Columbia Heights, and what felt like a very long walk home to my apartment. Just as we were nearing my home, and the sense of relief at finally being home was starting to come over me, I glanced up at the sky. It was milky blue from the light pollution, and you could barely see the stars up there. Nothing like the black Maine sky with the Milky Way spread across it.

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