Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Beginning

I know not if it was angels dancing, singing and cajoling, or perhaps an alignment of the stars, or just fate having its way, but somehow this girl born in Pennsylvania, who grew up in south central New York state and south-west West Virginia met (in Virginia) the boy who grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We fell in love, married, and eight years later had our child, Baby Bear. When she was eight years old, we moved to the House on the Creek and went on vacation to Mount Desert Island in Maine, which somehow felt like home and so became a yearly destination for us.

Baby Bear is now grown and married (to her beloved Boo Boo). They live in the environs of Boston, Massachusetts. Mama Bear and Papa Bear are about to undertake the glorious adventure of their retirement. Some have asked, "Whatever will you do?" My response has been, "However will we find time to do all we are anticipating doing?"

Our first adventure will be to spend a summer on Mount Desert Island. The Cat (formerly attached to Baby Bear until Baby Bear went to grad school, when The Cat somehow became attached to Mama Bear and Papa Bear) is learning to travel in a car without objecting, cleanup is happening at the House on the Creek so that those staying here this summer can enjoy their time here, and we are contemplating what needs to go with us to the House on the Cove so that we can enjoy our time there (my thought: not much!).

I have been asked what it is that makes Mount Desert seem like home to me. I do not know exactly - it is just a feeling I have in my bones each time I travel the causeway at Trenton to the Island. I love the way the mountains come to the sea, the brisk air, the tides coming in and going out, the birches among the hardwoods among the evergreens, the fog that rolls through,the rain and the sun and the ice and the snow, the places to hike and bike, the kindness and helpfulness of the people, the pace of life that seems slower and more deliberate (remember: we have always been on vacation when we have visited there in the past). Perhaps the following three stories will help to illustrate why I want to spend the first summer of our retirement on Mount Desert, in the House on the Cove:

* Reading an Island newspaper several years ago, I came across the police report for a town near the House on the Cove. In the story, an officer was making his rounds and noticed a dog out-and-about without its owner or a leash (the latter being a violation of a local ordinance). Having no more pressing crime to pursue, the officer followed the dog until it went to a house and scratched on the door. When a human opened the door and invited the dog inside, the officer approached, wrote a ticket and gave it to the human. I like the idea of place where there is time for this type of enforcement ...

* Trying to arrange an address at which we can receive USPS mail when at the House on the Cove, I completed an online form. At the end of the process, I was given a PDF of the information I had supplied and instructions that told me to print the form and take it to the post office with my identification. I called the postmaster there, to ask if I could take my identification to a post office near the House on the Creek, and have that postmaster contact the House on the Cove postmaster, so that we would have a working address before we arrived there. She said no, that would not work, she needed to see our ID, but that she had seen our application and would reserve a mailbox for us there. She then discussed the relative merits of the boxes she had available - the one assigned by the automated system had a key that did not work well, so she was recommending another box. She then shared that having a box not near the floor would be easier to check for mail (I agree), and then asked if I liked a particular number (she told me what the number was). I told her it sounded like a great number, so she has put a hold on that box for us (it is midway up the wall of boxes), and asked that we bring our photo ID and proof of affiliation with the property (a town tax bill will do) to her shortly after we arrive. I like the experience of people who know the rules, enforce them strictly, but still make it possible to accomplish a goal.

* I was reading an Island newspaper recently and noted that in the column on police activity (which is apparently always a fascinating read to me!) a woman had called one of the police stations on the Island because the place at which she was staying had mice. She was terrified and wanted to know if the officers could help. They advised her to go to the near-by all-night have-everything store to purchase some traps and bait, telling her to ask the person at the store for assistance in selecting her merchandise. She did as asked, then called the police again: she had made her purchases, but had no idea how to set the traps. An officer was dispatched to her premises to provide instruction on setting the traps, and to advise how to use a shovel to move what the traps caught outside her abode. I like the fact that the officers were willing and able, when they had the time, to stop and help with a situation outside their normal area of expertise: it was incredibly kind of them to do so.

Change is in the air, and we are most excited about it. We are working to see that our leaving is easy on our employers and our colleagues and that we have all ready here before we leave. Will there be bumps? Of course! What if we find we cannot tolerate life at the House on the Cove for as long as a summer? Then we will have more changes to undertake. Whatever happens, it will be fun, and we are looking forward to whatever happens with great joy. This blog will recount some of what happens during this journey.