dog days of summer
We’re both adventurers at heart, always seeking out new terrain to explore. We caught the travel bug young and clearly haven’t shaken it yet, but given our nomadic lifestyle, there is something inherently appealing – even comforting – about returning to the same place year after year. At least S feels that way. Three summers ago, she spent a week with her family on Deer Isle – an idyllic spot on the Maine coast – and has returned two of the last three years despite the fact that D has yet to be able to join or even make up his mind about the annual tradition.
This year S’s family rented the same house as their first summer, and it almost felt like coming home. S half-encourages her mom every time she sees her with a real estate brochure, scanning Deer Isle properties for sale.
Munchkin was only four months old the first time S took him to Deer Isle, so the appeal of the rocky shoreline and the nearby farm were lost on him. This time around, he was just the right age – getting excited about the goats, pigs, and chickens on the farm, playing with the old toy trucks that look like they’ve weathered several generations of toddlers, and wandering the wind-swept beach.
After nine months in a small two-bedroom temporary apartment, the freedom of rural Maine was palpable. S fully embraced the chance to free-range parent, the only fallout being that Munchkin got a lot of splinters in his feet from barefooted play on the deck. It was remarkable to see how much joy he found splashing through mud puddles on the hiking trail and chasing the family dog around the property.
For a small island, there are a surprising number of things S had yet to explore. She learned somewhat too late into this stay about a freshwater pond that makes for an excellent swimming hole, a welcome alternative to the brisk waters that lap the doorstep of the vacation house.
And this year, the family made the drive out to the Haymarket Mountain School of Crafts and marveled at the view. With a toddler to entertain, S found a roadside cafe with an amazing playground, a welcoming fire station that was happy to let Munchkin sit at the wheel of the pumper truck, a tiny library with a newly remodeled children’s section, and a small-scale marine conservation center with a touch tank perfect for curious tots.
This was also a summer of many firsts for Munchkin: his first kayak ride, first real hike, and first parade. S was able to put Munchkin in her lap in her mom’s sit-on-top kayak and paddle him out on the water. Though the full-day hike around Isle au Haut proved a bit much, all things considered, he did pretty well strapped to S’s back for most of the day. Even though he was long asleep by the time the Independence Day firework show began, he loved watching all the fire trucks in the local parade earlier in the day.
S’s mom has a summer birthday that coincided with this year’s trip and Munchkin loved helping S and her sister make the cake. As they were in the kitchen, S’s sister started singing The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” after which Munchkin parroted “sugar, sugar…honey, honey” for weeks on end.
S hopes Deer Isle will be a place to which we return again and again – a place where Munchkin will make memories and perhaps learn to paddle-board and sail. Last night at dinner, Munchkin asked S to play “Sugar, Sugar” again, so clearly some things have stuck.