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the simple things

After spending two weeks with her parents in Bangor, S and Munchkin transitioned to our rental in Portland to await D’s return and the baby’s arrival.

For Munchkin’s birth three years ago we had rented a small apartment close to the city’s urban center. It was the dead of winter and we valued proximity to good restaurants and the hospital where S delivered above all else. This time around, we opted for a more residential setting, with playgrounds and the beach a short walk away, and a small yard for Munchkin to run around in.

Maine is one of the country’s most sparsely populated states, and even its “big cities” ooze small town American life. There is a certain appeal to being in a town where you know everyone and everyone knows you; where you can walk down the street for a loaf of fresh bread, a pint of milk, a dozen eggs, and some delicious homemade ice cream. It reminds S of when she spent half a year working and living on Mount Desert Island.

Munchkin loves it here. He literally stops and smells the flowers on our walks. After reading about pinecones in the story Boy and Bot but never having seen any, he gleefully gathered as many as could fit in an unused doggy poop bag to make pinecone soup with his nana. Recently he discovered dandelions; he calls them “danny-lions,” which also happens to be the stage name of our favorite children’s singer songwriter. He is fascinated that one can burry people up to their necks in the sand and has no qualms about going waist deep into 55-degree ocean waters as he chases the waves.

The benefit to living down the street from the beach cannot be overstated. Rather than a big production with packed lunches and, inevitably, too much mid-day sun, we can go for an hour or two early in the morning or late in the afternoon after Munchkin’s nap. S was never a big beachgoer herself, but has quickly cottoned on to the fact that being on the seashore is a parent’s dream: a never-ending sandbox, better than a swimming pool, and with plenty of interesting seashells to examine as well. Munchkin always protests leaving, but we can easily promise him another trip the very next day.

That summer on MDI – the last time S actually lived in Maine – was not far removed from her college days. She had spent the bulk of the previous year backpacking through South America, and by the end of the Maine tourist season she started to get itchy feet again. Also, the thought of weathering the state’s long cold winters year in and year out was chilling. After years of the Foreign Service itinerant life, coming home to a Maine summer has gotten S’s mind spinning in the other direction. She loves our adventures, but (not so) secretly craves a more rooted lifestyle. Putting down roots in Maine, with its unfettered access to all the wonders that nature has to offer, is mighty tempting.

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