My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows a couple entertaining in their NYC apartment, which is decorated with fishing buoys. Their guests realize they’re trapped when the host asks, “Did we mention that we spent last summer in Maine?”
As someone similarly obsessed with Maine, I know that look of panic.
That’s why I’m writing a public thank you note to my family who not only indulged my Maine obsession with great gifts this Christmas, but listened to me all year long.
First of all is Fred, who hikes, bikes, and kayaks with me in Acadia when he’d probably rather be lying on a beach on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s even become my partner in ensnaring people into conversations about Maine — especially about lobster, which is his passion! He not only gave me a print of that favorite New Yorker cartoon, but a hatcam that will let me take videos while I’m doing those great rungs-and-ladders trails in Acadia. Hiking with me with that cap on, now that’s true love.
My daughter Luisa gave me The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors. Encompassing plants, animals, and habitats, it provides substantive, entertaining answers to all kinds of things you may have wondered about: Why are some pine cones tightly closed? What are the large spherical growths on the trunks of some trees? Why do geese waste energy honking when they fly? Information enhances experience, and this book is going to make being outdoors so much more fulfilling for me. Thank you, Luisa.
My sister Nancy, who is a professional dog trainer in New Hampshire, gave me a gourd bird house. You can buy one or make your own. The benefits of gourd-based houses for birds, particularly the purple martin, are that they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter than wooden bird houses and their slick surfaces tend to thwart predators. Mine is on its way to my backyard in Somesville, Maine.
My other sister, Laurie, an officer of The Granite State Carriage Association, introduced me to Acadia National Park during a carriage-driving expedition in 2004. For Christmas this year she gave me a doormat woven from recycled floating rope, which the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation has been buying back from lobstermen to help them comply with a new federal whale rule mandating the use of sinking groundlines to avoid entangling whales. The “Bottom Line Project” has helped save whales, support lobstermen, and introduce a new artisanal craft. As the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation says, you can join New England’s finest porches by buying your own mat made from the colorful rope used by Maine lobstermen.
I don’t have buoys hanging from the ceiling of my Manhattan apartment, but first chance I get, I’ll be ready to talk to you about more ways to appreciate and preserve all of the great things on our planet, including the generosity of indulgent family…
…and to tell you more about why I love Acadia National Park.