Colorado, creative non fiction, maine, New Mexico, san luis valley, southwest, Uncategorized

Vacationland?

Maine summers had long been known for their comfort, for being warm but generally not hot.  In addition to “The Pine Tree State,” Maine’s motto was “Vacationland.”  For generations, people, including members of my family, had flocked to Maine to have a taste of the wild and, especially, to escape the torrid summer heat of the states to the south.  If you lived in Morristown, New Jersey, and on a July day the temperature there was 91 degrees and the relative humidity 90 percent, you were forgiven for longing to be in a breezy Maine coastal town like Bar Harbor or Christmas Cove; or, if you favored deep woods and fresh water, to be loafing on the summit of Maine’s Mt. Katahdin, where the famed Appalachian Trail terminated, or to be taking an invigorating plunge in Maine’s Moosehead Lake (“like a gleaming silver platter at the end of the table,” wrote Thoreau). 

Indeed, nothing, not even the most pleasant day in New Mexico, topped an August afternoon in our backyard in Gorham, the temperature in the 80’s, and I relaxing against the trunk of a pine, listening to the breeze in the treetops and the fiddling of insects, recalling the New England of my childhood, my butt upon a new-mowed lawn interwoven with fallen, fragrant pine needles.  But the operative word here is “relaxing.”  On many summer days in Maine, if I was engaging in a vigorous activity while working or playing outdoors, my body often felt greased with sweat. 

And while the first floor of our house was generally comfortable in the summer, we often had fans exhausting the day’s accumulated heat from our second-floor bedrooms on summer nights.  We even considered an air-conditioner for one of the bedrooms.  Linda was more sensitive to the Northeast humidity than I, although we both concluded we were just too spoiled by the aridity of Denver and, later, the Southwest.[1]


[1]Spoiled?  In July 2019, in an online article/survey about coping with summer heat, presumably in the New York metropolitan area, The New York Times posited this: “Humidity is the best weather.  It’s good for your skin, but you probably knew that.  A healthy dose can improve the quality of your sleep and clear up breathing problems.  Maybe that sounds familiar, too.  But did you know that humidity can enhance your sense of smell?  A moist nose works better than a dry nose, and scents, delightful and otherwise, are more easily trapped by muggy air where they linger longer.  Then there’s this: Humidity may have given rise to some of humanity’s most complex languages.  According to one theory, the persistent swampiness in some parts of the world limbered up the voice boxes of local inhabitants, allowing them to create languages with a wide range of subtle tones.  And if all of that isn’t enough to convince you, there’s one more reason to love humidity: It’s egalitarian.  No one needs to be worried about being a sweaty mess, when everyone’s a sweaty mess.”  At the time I read it, 614 readers agreed with the preceding. However, 3385 disagreed. 


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