Joe’s Journal

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum Summertime

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 06/02/2021 - 7:00am

Ready or not, spring has sprung and summer is here. And summertime in the Boothbay region is a perfect getaway from the city, suburbia and the rest of the nation we love so dear.

And believe me, after we survived 2020, we all deserve a vacation.

All you have to do is get in the family bus, drive a few hundred miles, and turn right off Route 1 to enjoy the crisp air, spectacular geography, savory food, iconic lighthouses, and the rest of the Boothbay-Damariscotta experience.

Oh, ya, the local people are pretty great, too.

Since the early 1600s, Europeans sailed small stout vessels across the mighty ocean to reach our shores. Some of them landed in the protected harbor of Damariscove Island, a few miles off Boothbay Harbor. There they set up a fishing camp gathering the huge cod that lived nearby.

Some historians say European fishermen arrived before that, but the mists of time have clouded the accounts of earlier journeys. But we are sure they were fishermen and, if you know a fisherman, you know they are very reluctant to disclose the location of the best spot to haul in the big ones.

We do know that in 1607 the English planted a settlement at the mouth of the Kennebec. After a harsh winter, they built a vessel and sailed back home. Thus, they became Maine's first summer people.

Our native peoples also loved to come to the shore in summer, as evidenced by the massive shell middens that dot our coastlines. If you want to see one, just visit Damariscotta and drive out Route 1. You will find it not far from the Round Top Ice cream emporium.

The Pilgrims sailed for our shores in September 1620 and arrived in Massachusetts some 65 days later. As they found no supermarkets and pizza shops, some of them sailed to Damariscove and begged for some food. Of course, the kindly fishermen obliged them and helped them out. I assume they gave them some dried cod.

Some say the Pilgrims came back the following summer and begged for some more food. The story I heard was that this time, the kindly fishermen obliged them again. But, this time, they sold the food to the smiling Pilgrims.

This event led to one of our great traditions. We welcome visitors to our shores and are glad to provide them with goods and services. But, of course, business is business and, you know, everyone has to make a living.

This brings us back to the present. Despite claims to the contrary, our beloved country, and the rest of the world, has endured a pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

For a year, we sat at home to avoid Mr. COVID. Our kids stayed home, too, as our educators made a valiant effort to Zoom school them using the internet and electronic devices that were not even imagined when I was a boy, although I seem to remember a newspaper cartoon series called “Dick Tracy” where the detectives communicated via radios strapped to their wrists.

Now, thanks to prodding from a pair of presidents and the magic of science, Big Pharma has produced vaccines to protect us from Mr. COVID. My bride and I got vaccinated and did not suffer any ill effects. In any case, the shot was a whale of a lot less bother than becoming infected with Mr. COVID and spending some time in bed, in the emergency department, or worse.

Some don't want to get vaccinated saying it is their right to refuse, and I accept that. I hope the anti-vaccine folks don't get infected.

This brings me back to the summer on the Maine coast where you can relax for a time and not worry about traffic, Zoom meetings and the rest of the debris left over from 2020. I suggest you spend an afternoon sitting on the shore. Just sit on the rocks. Watching the waves can be as calming as one of those little pills your shrink gave you.

Better yet, read a book. If you want a bestseller, go to Sherman's independent bookstore. If you want a classic or maybe a novel you missed last season or even an old biography, try the iconic used book store at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library.

It's all good.