June 11 – 17, 2021Vol. 23, No. 1

2021: When Summer Lies Ahead

by Esther J. Perne

When summer lies ahead, when the days are light and inviting, when the outdoors calls and when the setting is simpler, saner, safer — can fun be far behind?

Can there be any excuse good enough, strong enough, long enough to not join in the enjoyment of a summer outing — a visit to a lake or park, a trail, a scenic overview, a sunset, relaxation on a dock, deck, balcony or porch?

When summer reigns, clues to getting out and about, to enjoying the season are everywhere. Canoes sail down roads — on top of vehicles; bicyclists hug the shoulders in tight synchronous convoys; roadways in all directions reveal visual feasts of open waters and wooded hills; athletes exercise and pedestrians stroll along the edges of streets and byways (please drive carefully!); and children happily demonstrate time and again how amazing and amusing playgrounds and swim areas can be.

When greenery, gardens, and undergrowth take over, small town lifestyles and activities do, too, with ball parks hosting games and practices…spectators lugging lawn chairs…anglers casting from bridges and dams…boats traveling across lakes…kayaks hugging shorelines…seasonal businesses reopening…and lines, long lines, of adults, dogs, youngsters, seniors surrounding ice cream stands.

What flavor will it be? One of those Maine-named originals or an old standby? When summer lies ahead so does the possibility of sampling them all. That's a double dare!!

When summer lies ahead, it's great to go back — way back to the lifestyle patterns and traditions and legacies of previous generations or just back to yesterday to a first-time stopover that will turn into many returns, many homecomings.

Homecoming is the hallmark of summer whether it's the return to a vacation house or camp — a category for which Maine ranks number one in the nation; day visits to lakes and waterways (access users comprise one-third of Maine's annual lake visitors); or the social or celebration visits by extended family, friends, friends of friends or just acquaintances — too numerous and spontaneous to quantify.

Will there will be a going back to a year ago's concerns and cautions and precautions over COVID-19? A plan proven is already in place. It prescribes: take to the trails, the lakes, the bikes, the watercraft; take up gardening, yardscaping, wood stacking; dine outdoors; take take-outs to scenic parks and shady picnic tables; and take strolls along quiet back roads. Above all, take the family, the children, the dog and those guests along.

When summer lies ahead, time is a trickster. It has it ways of re-starting with the turn of a key in a long unturned lock, with a greeting from fresh breezes and white-cap-force winds, with the sound of a motor boat crossing a cove, a loon calling for rain, or the excited voices of children heading to the water.

Most of all summer re-starts with Nature's revealing great marvels of perseverance, re-starts with each opportunity for humans to help: to brake for turtles, turkeys, and deer; to allow ducklings and goslings to cross the roadl; to become a no-wake boater near shorelines; to fight invasive plants and polluting run-off.

All the season is a trickster, too. Today, the second half of June stretches long ahead. Tomorrow, there are the promising days of July, then August. September is a great, glorious waiting secret. And Indian summer, or summers, as the trend usually is, are the best late great demonstration of it's-not-over-until-it's- over. There's almost always one more idyllic day of good weather, of adventure, of outings ahead.

When summer lies ahead, good, wholesome, family-oriented, healthy fun (solo fun, too) is sure to follow. A day off, a weekend, a week are encouraged. Isn't it about time to learn to bait a hook; examine without fear what lives under rocks; park the car and walk, walk, walk; and stay outdoors as much as possible?

Summer lies ahead. Go for it!