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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bar Harbor: gifts bestowed

Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to live so close to the amazing place that is Mount Desert Island, home of Bar Harbor (and other wonderful towns) and Acadia National Park.   We try to enjoy it as much as we can before the rest of the world clogs the roads, Inns and eateries (like when I rode my bike up Cadillac Mountain last spring while the Loop Road was closed). This weekend we visited the island on a most spectacular and sparkly summer-feeling day to enjoy this gem of land surrounded by a most brilliant blue sea.  

We decided our kids were ready to hike.  To actually hike.  This has been disproven many times in the past but felt perhaps the time was now.  (Wait, is that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?) After all, just a couple of weeks ago they hiked through the bug-infested forest and lived to tell (and complain) even if Maya hiked 50% of it on my back.  We would have cold water, graham crackers, granola bars and lots of cheer.    Don't granola bars and cheer soothe any ill?

Our children would be like their mothers from whence they'd come:  they would be beguiled with hiking.  

Oh and for at least a quarter of a mile they were.  Oh the magic of the woods!  And no bugs!  Oh look at this animal burrow!  And that cool stump!  Are those woodpecker holes?  Amazing.  I want to lead the way!  I can follow the blue dots!  Look at us, we are hikers!

We had arrived in a blissful motherhood haven, at the intersection of what we love and what our kids love/tolerate.

And then the damn path had the nerve to go UPHILL.   

Now, for any who have hiked in Acadia National Park you will agree that even the biggest "mountain" is more like a large hill and most of the trails meander up to a peak.  They beckon a hiker forward gently, rather than asking one to scale the side of a cliff (although I do think there is one trail that sort of does that but we were not on it).  This hike was up a little, over a little, up a little, over a little, with lots of fun rocks and roots to scurry over.   It was 1.5 miles long which was rather ambitious but not in any way what I would categorize as strenuous.

But alas, our children got hot.  No recollection of the frigid winter (or chilly spring for that matter) would allow them celebration of the sun on their arms.  They got tired.  They wanted to go to the beach.  The graham crackers were too dry.  As we started to go uphill, things started to go downhill.


I don't want to be too specific about the truly depressing 20 minute period that had one child wailing in the forest, threatening to go off on her own and intentionally get lost, in a manner that no one in those woods needed or wanted.  I won't tell you about the massive disappointment of a well-laid plan gone south and the true fear of what the teenage years will look like in a house of all girls.   I won't tell you about the poisonous negativity one of our children couldn't help but spread over the rest of us, popping our balloons of happy contentment with smug satisfaction.

We divided and conquered, there was a brief (unintentional) moment of being on the wrong trail while separated and then we came back together, apologies were made, the negativity had been bled from the system like a pump being primed, and we tried to move on.  This time down the mountain.

I think we made it .40 miles.

It is hard to know, I tell you.  Hard to know indeed.

There was some hearty tree hugging happening on the way down and appreciation bestowed on the woods even though they held such dreaded uphill climbs that would make mothers want to take their children up them. 
Then we found our way to a random, hidden beach complete with mud flats, warm rocks to bask on and heart shaped rocks!  Simply put, there was more joy there.

In all my years living in close proximity to MDI, I had never taken the time to walk through the Asticou Garden.  Given the day and the time of year for the blooming azaleas, we made a point to stop and walk through and I am so glad we did.

Our little woodland nymph.

All in all, it turns out Mount Desert Island is not just a place of beauty, nor is it just a place mothers bring their children to inflict pain.   It is a place that reminds us of all that is exquisite and lovely about living in Maine and surviving its winters, where a breathtaking seascape is around every next bend and to behold the wonder of how much an ice cream can cost and how much it can cheer a child to have her drink served with a plastic mermaid atop the straw?

For us this weekend it was also a place to remember that, tears and imperfections are a part of the whole, that spending your life intricately woven with three other people means sometimes failing one another, intentional and unintentional hurt that sometimes leads to crying in a peaceful forest or whining at a restaurant because, even though your meal was served on a FRISBEE (for goodness sake) it wasn't the color you wanted.  And when the dust has settled and the tears have dried you are left with the sweet redemption of love and forgiveness.

That and the Bar Harbor Brewing Company which we now love.  May I recommend their Real Ale?


1 comment:

Nicholas Goldman said...

I wish I lived near a mountain! It seems every time you guys go to a mountain there is always a different 'challenge' waiting!

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