The tourist infestation has hit Belfast and the byways.
I picture them back in their home cities, working and saving and dreaming of their vacation to Maine. Most of them spend more on their yearly vacation than I do on a good used car. They spend 98 percent of their years living in the din and cacophony of air-stilted "concrete jungles," while visions of their summer trips to Maine and dreams of maybe being able to retire in such a place one day flit through their heads.
It took me far too many years to “come home" after living all across the country. I’ve been back 33 years now and had my house out here in the willy-wacks for 23. “Why,” I have asked myself, “did you take so long to get back to the country?”
No matter. I’m settled in, snugger’n the proverbial bug in a rug, and anyone would be hard put to dislodge me — especially come summer.
In the summer, I play tourist. Since I’m already in Vacationland, I’ll think: “Now, if I am a tourist, what would I do today? Maybe go down to Ducktrap or grab some chicken wings and potato salad and drive on into Knight’s Pond? Maybe go over to Young’s for lobster and steamers? Maybe a stroll downtown and browse the shops? And I see in the local paper there’s an intriguing garden on the visitor’s tour this weekend….” And then I think of all the money I save by not having to spend $100+ for a place to sleep each night.
I’ve been taking these "vacations-in-place" for decades. Now, with the economy, especially the rising food and gas prices, more people are choosing to vacation at home. They even have a new word for it: "staycations.”
But my favorite form of recreation is a layabout. My whole backyard is a vacation in itself. My house is not isolated from near neighbors, but situated so that it seems so. On a lightly traveled road, my house sits down a long drive with enough woods in front to provide privacy and quiet, and my acre and a half of mostly forest provides the illusion of being deeper into the country. When I scan around the trees, I can see swamp maple, silver maple, oak, locust, birch, beech, aspen, white pine, balsam, cedar. Many states don't even half as many varieties in their whole state.
It gives me solitude and privacy when I want it and, being a person who leans toward the hermit — as most artists/writers are wont to — it’s my ideal haven on earth.
Today, another perfect day of sun, blue sky and stray popcorn clouds, I spent an hour or so reading in my "sofa" swing under the shade of the tall poplars, while a lively but soft breeze combed through the forest trees that frame my backyard; sunlight setting my lilies, hollyhocks, bee-balm and phlox ablaze against the dark, shaded forest undergrowth; the birds — gold finch, purple finch, black caps, red-breasted gross beaks, blue jays, hummingbirds flitting from feeders to flowers; "Little Red," my friendliest ground squirrel, who delights in running across my toes; the grays, the mourning doves — can someone say "Forest Haven" — or "MAINE Haven"? Then I sprawled out on the cushions and took a nap.
I had lunch out on my patio — which I created by simply laying a carpet over a bed of, first, newspapers and then a layer of plastic. This created a perfect place for my heavy metal patio table and chairs, while keeping the footing level with the ground — no tripping and no weed-whacking — just mow over the edges. This is the carpet's fifth summer — well, year-round — and it’s still fine. Biggest plus, the patio furniture doesn’t have to be moved for mowing.
After lunch, I moved to my new zero gravity lounge chair that my daughter sent me for my birthday, and enjoyed a spell of sunning and a cup of tea in a fine English bone china tea cup, reminding myself that the sun shining down in my yard is the same sun that shines on the Riviera. (Talk about saving money.)
Who needs to "go" on vacation? I just have to step outside...on a layabout. (We won't talk about that wasp I just stepped on — that stung like H-E-double L and then started a hives reaction on my foot, with welts and swelling blood vessels starting to race up my foot. Took a Benadryl and it seems to be reining it in.)
Time for another nap? Why not. Tomorrow’s another day in Vacationland.
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award winning columnist, is a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.