I have been trying to find a way to ease charmingly back into blogging, but I can’t quite figure out how. It feels very strange, to have been gone for so long, there’s this pressure now, much like an unfortunately lapsed thank you note. It all starts innocently enough. You don’t get to it right away, because you want to have the time to do it right, and before you know it too much time has passed, and it’s awkward. Now you wonder, to send or not to send (always send).
So it’s like that rather, and while I wish I could tell you that I’ve just been SO BUSY, I’ve actually had a really lovely, relatively stress-free summer, spent—most recently—along the coast of Maine, ending in Southwest Harbor on Mt. Desert Island. Eating lobster, hiking cliffs, lounging about on the various beaches.
M and I have a very particular way of ‘doing’ Maine, Mt. Desert specifically—where the tourists throng in their spandex and bike-helmets, making ascent after painful ascent, slowly and arduously, their calf muscles sharp and gleamy and terrifying—and it begins with a smuggled coffee pot. The only way I can successfully enjoy Acadia National Park, which is splendid, is if I do it very early, when my ever-growing aversion to crowds can be avoided, and so we have to get up early. Earlier, generally, then there is available coffee. And so, you smuggle in a coffee pot, and some nice Colombian coffee, and you make it as quietly as you can at five in the morning.
Then, off you go to hike with nothing but the cool morning air and the occasional belligerent red squirrel, the fog rolling out over the water, the gulls crying, the wild blueberries about your feet (and subsequently in your mouth). You come across a mountain pond, you catch sight of an eagle winging above, you catch tiny crabs in tidal pools, you have the island to yourself.
By the time you roll off the mountain, it’s noon, and the cars are lining up, children are happily shrieking up the paths, the sharply calved are unhooking their bikes from their Subaru’s, and you are off to have a glass of wine and a popover, followed by a bit of reading on your inn’s lawn. For this trip the reading selection was dark and islandy (appropriate, I know) with Kevin Barry’s aptly titled Dark Lies the Island, Amy Sackville’s Orkney, Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate (Britain is technically an island!), and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.
Delicious dinners can be found throughout Mt. Desert, but undeniably the best ones are of the fried variety at The Thirsty Whale, where the shrimp is light and flaky and the beers are well selected and reasonably priced, the fancy variety at Red Sky, where the duck AND the wine selection are unsurpassed, and—my personal favorite—of the surprisingly Mexican variety at XYZ, a traditional Yucatan place that’s so good I’m nervous just telling you about it. Hidden down a dirt road in Southwest Harbor, you’ll find a low, breezy spot, lit up for a party, with music and laughter drifting out over the high grasses that surround it. Inside there are bright tablecloths, candles and terrific margaritas, along with the best mole that you will EVER have.
End your night with a sunset over the U.S.’ only east coast fjord, and maybe a swig of rum? Then go to bed early! You’re getting up with the sun, after all.
I came back from Maine with a bar of balsam-scented soap and a quart of wild blueberries. No other souvenirs seemed necessary. The blueberries went promptly into a pie, this one, to be precise, and the soap is just about used up, but makes my bathroom smell the song below.