It’s a beautiful morning on the rock. After an unusually long rainy spell, Ma Nature seems to have slaked her thirst enough to bless us with one of those rare and perfect Maine summer days, sunny and warm with a slight onshore breeze. Even the cemetery grass is green. I don’t remember an August when the cemetery grass wasn’t baked dry and crispy. Today, the soft grass beckons the barefooted to visit, explore, reflect.
It’s the weekend and today is quiet and, with the deck umbrella up, it is just right for enjoying a relaxing start to the day. There’s a slight squeaking as the umbrella moves with the breeze, and occasionally I hear the lapping and clinking sound of the dog drinking from a stainless steel water dish, tossing me a look of appreciation as she ambles back to her place in the morning sun. The clinking comes from ice cubes floating in the water, but otherwise nothing disturbs the scene from the deck. Out in the bay, lobster boats run from one string to the next while pleasure boats of every description quickly zip or slowly plod through the fishing grounds. It seems as if the world got off to an early start today.
This morning it is the quiet that is most noticeable. As I write this, it is still midsummer and the quiet I most love is weeks and months away. It’s still the season of car-top kayaks, bicyclists, joggers, walkers meandering with dogs, and minivans with foreign plates, their cruise control set to “crawl.”
But, at least for now, the silence is a treat. Shortly, probably before I’ve finished my second cup of dark-brewed Black Silk, the quiet will be lost for a time as the islands, the Harbor and the Neck fully come alive and begin the day working, mowing, playing, running to town with weekend errands, mowing, visiting friends and checking on relatives, exercising, and I should probably mention mowing. Our visitors to town will busy themselves with the usual vacation activities and others, just out for a ride, will round up a dozen good friends and, firing up their Road Kings, take a slow tour around town, exploring our miles of scenic roads. Quiet will be a memory.
Then, in a few weeks, we’ll be blessed with the quiet that characterizes the town at the end of what we all hope will be a successful tourist season. We’ll be left to ourselves to figure out what to do with the quiet and there’s a lot of it to do something with. Just about all of the few remaining restaurants will close. Thankfully, reliable Cook’s has remained open for most of past winters except for a midwinter month of deep cleaning. General stores will close early and often.
For all but the most dedicated, it will be too cold to enjoy a motorcycle ride, with or without friends. Almost all the gift shops will close. Most of us are OK with that, since our miniature pot buoy keychains and driftwood knickknack collections have been complete for maybe three generations. Luckily, we can still look to Land’s End Gift Shop for emergency sweatshirt needs through most of the year.
And there are a couple of pluses this year. There is a gas station operating in town again, though it’s helpful for only a portion of us. For most, the gasoline stations at Cook’s Corner are about the same distance away or less. The most wonderful baked goods can now be had right in my own neighborhood, as a well-known local baker has established a kiosk offering fresh cakes, pies and assorted yummies. It seems retirement is not her style and that’s alright with me, even if my waistline is unhappy about it.
Actually, 2021 is shaping up to be a whole lot better than 2020. Still, I’m looking forward to the quiet, thankful that it is the longest season.
Butch Lawson lives on Bailey Island and is an observer of life.