It’s hot. It’s muggy. The sidewalks are crowded, and each and every year, residents, summer folks and short-term visitors all believe that the traffic has never been worse.
And don’t even think about finding a place to park for what used to be a quick trip to the grocery store.
For all the obvious inconveniences of inviting nearly 3 million people to visit each year, August on Mount Desert Island is still a marvelous month. The joyous soundtrack of ebullient vacationers plays repeatedly on every downtown street corner. Afternoon sea breezes flap the curtains marking time to the drone of sightseeing planes buzzing overhead.
As the evening air cools after each day’s spectacular sunset, a parade of headlights descends from the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Fireflies compete for attention as lights appear one by one in the windows of every house, including those so often left dark and desolate during the dim days of winter.
Sometimes in August, it seems like there are people on every rock, behind every tree, on every beach and on every mountaintop.
And then, in the blink of an eye, cold winds paint November brown and gray, and the idyllic days of August become a distant, warm memory.
The real gift of August is that we year-rounders are willing to share what we prize so dearly with any and all comers – those who arrive, for all too brief a time, to soak in the atmosphere, the spectacular natural beauty and the connection with the land and the sea that easily can be taken for granted.
The sharing isn’t done just for good economic sense. Deep down, deep inside each of us, the passion of our visitors, like the rewards of August, validates our own decisions to weather the economic, spiritual and climatological vicissitudes of living along a hardscrabble coast.
That willingness to share brings with it the need to remind ourselves to be patient with the legions of inexperienced parkers, slow drivers enjoying the scenery, and the casual trespassers who, through exuberance for the experience, may abandon their usual sense of decorum.
Take a breath. Savor the beautiful weather. Remember that the crush of August will be over all too soon.