Posted September 9, 2019 – Narrated by Carmen
“The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
Writing this journal of our travels is usually done on a stormy day, or a smoky day, or a sandstorm day, or a crazy-hot day, or a freezing day, or during any condition when staying inside is a solution for what’s going on outside.
In our first year, I wrote these entries at night but …
… you LIB and you learn.
Before we set out, three years ago, I’d planned once-a-week updates. But after a year of late night blogging, I learned to settle into the rhythms of road life and wait for the inevitable conditions that drive us inside once every two weeks, roughly.
Throughout 2019, we’ve depended on those opportunistic indoor days to catch up on email, rest and reflect … until we entered New England in July.
Idyllic conditions have carried us through August. In fact, we’re wondering if we’ve found our permanent summertime Camelot along this eastern shore of the USA.
It’s a place I always imagined from novels and poetry and, we’re here to say, “It’s true! It’s true!”
Just the country drives are worth the trip.
Still, The Beast is almost on vacation. From Newport to Cape Anne, we only logged 230 miles in three weeks.
The roads are more like lanes – more narrow than most California driveways – with no shoulder to pull off, so I have to take snap shots from the passenger window and hope for luck.
Supermarkets are rare on these coastal scenic routes, so we stock up on superb produce and locally crafted maple syrup, dairy, nuts and bread at country markets.
Once we settle in, we cycle rail trails, walk on beaches, hike forest paths and exploit the crystal clear glacial ponds for swimming and paddling.
The average move here is 40-100 miles. After staying near a charming colonial village for a few days, we pack and move on. We’re barely traveling. But according to my FitBit we’re walking 17,000 steps per day …
… so, food is important.
We’re downing seafood like a couple of starving old pelicans. In Brewster we brought home a two-pound lobster-in-the-rough, split it in half and served it with homemade sides, traumatizing Pico to no end – maybe even for the remainder of his natural life.
Breakfast is important, too. Heaping bowls of fresh wild Maine blueberries and yogurt make us ready for a …
stroll through Ipswich, incorporated as a town in 1634 .…
or Gloucester – founded in 1623 …
In Rockport we noticed a billet in the window about a concert we wanted to attend.
One glorious moment after another.
That’s how summer goes in New England.
“Beauty is whatever gives joy”
– Edna Saint Vincent Millay
But it finally rained. Every corner of Maine was drenched from dawn to dusk. NOAA called it a tropical depression from Hurricane Dorian out in the Atlantic on the way north to Newfoundland. The National Park administration posted dire warnings throughout the campground predicting forty-five mile-per-hour gusts, but it was merely a downpour.
We take all weather alerts quite seriously, but trust our instincts as we look to the sky and trees and watch the birds activities. Both Jim and I had a sense that we were in for a rain and some gusty wind, but no extremely harsh weather, and we were correct.
But there is no predicting these moments of ecstatic joy that lately come upon me as the first signs of Autumn make their appearance.
As I woke in Beauty, the aromatics of the wet forest and Jim’s coffee brewing, made my heart nearly burst with love for everything and everyone in the world.
This sense of exquisite joy that pierces me almost to the point of pain continued through our breakfast of hot spiced sweet potato dolloped with yoghurt and drizzled over with maple syrup.
“I would blossom if I were a rose.”
– Edna Saint Vincent Millay
Are these kamikaze moments of oneness with heaven and earth a hardwired response to Autumnal seductions? An ancient human response to harvest time and celebration?
Whatever, it’s a force here in the East Coast.
In San Diego this season is so subtle that you have to throw a coat in the car and drive an hour or so to the mountains to hunt it down in Idylwild or Laguna or Julian – and when you pull up in front of The Julian Pie Shop and step out into the air your toes freeze because you’re wearing sandals.
This Autumn’s message to me is, “Nature is not here to serve as backdrop for your ‘important’ life.”
The light, the colors and the sharpness of the air refine my senses, heighten my emotions and instill a longing for community – it’s as if Nature steps right through me like a phantom and then gallantly bows out, relaxing my grip on the hand-picked, dried-up bouquet of anxieties and fears of aging that slip to the ground.
After breakfast, not wanting the moment to pass, I recline with Pico – all snuggled warm beneath the down comforter on my lap – and watch the tree branches nod and sway, splattering the skylight like children playing in a garden sprinkler. I silently confirm to myself, to God, and to all the world, the pure joy and sweetness of Life. And that is the purpose of this partial, belated but faithful update of the First-Ever LIB Coastal New England tour.