by Esther J. Perne
Summertime in the Belgrades...among the lakes... along the Kennebec...in the central Maine region. The season is anticipated, it's awesome, it's rich in traditions and discovery and it's for everyone: resident, vacationer, visitor, passerby.
Summer offers a full menu of local outings and activities, a generous range of recreation and relaxation, a mix of yesterday and today — of historic and modern — and an alphabet to whet the imagination.
A is for adventure, the adventure of something new. Hike a trail. Check a good book out of a library or just check out a library. Enjoy the adventure, too, of time-out: sunning, napping, sleeping.
A is also for apples, for this area once famously full of apple orchards from where thousands of barrels of apples were shipped out annually.
B is for boating, baseball and berries. Get out on the water — rent a boat, take a tour, take a picnic to a boat landing. Baseball? Slow down where the cars line the road for a baseball game, stop and watch Little League, find Little Fenway (at Day Camp Tracy on McGrath Pond Road in Oakland) — Yes, it's an exact replica. And, pick berries: follow the ripening wave of the season. Thank goodness, all types don't ripen at once.
C is for camp, canoeing and (ugh) construction. Camps are fun and easy and nostalgic. Family camps, youth camps, day camps provide the pulse of summer. Canoeing is quiet, quaint and oh so calming and a great antidote to driving where there is road construction. Construction is not quiet, quaint and calming but it is a fixture of summer living.
D is for docks, decks and dogs — all therapeuto be near and sources of sociability and/or retreat.
E is for eskers, those ridges of gravel often used as roadways (for example Route 135 west of Route 27), often recognized as peninsulas and islands stretching out into lakes, e.g. Foster Point/Pine Island on Great Pond, often the source of sand and gravel from pits throughout the extended region. Eskers were formed from retreating glaciers and the gravel they left behind.
E is also for eagles, not so long ago a rare sight, who have made an exciting comeback along the waterways.
F is for fishing and the Fourth of July, great celebrations both.
G is for gift shops — for browsing, buying, bringing home memories; for local gardens — and their healthy produce; and for golf — and the great courses, many tournaments and magical settings that accompany the game.
H is for history — and all the warm-weather opportunities to visit historical society museums, monuments and meetings.
I is for ice cream and all those awesome flavors that represent Maine.
J is for jams and jellies — fresh and homemade from pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blues, or froma farmer's market, roadside stand or gift shop.
K is for kettle ponds — those small ponds scattered along the roads that are indentations left by melting glaciers. Kettle ponds have no inlets but hold rain and runoff like a kettle.
L is for loons — our iconic bird — and license plates from other states. Both arrive for summer, are observed throughout the area and depart when the weather gets too cold.
M is for movies, films and the Maine International Film Festival — which takes place July 12-21 in Waterville.
N is for nature, so close, so intriguing, so variable, so rewarding. The ultimate reward is to discover a please-don't-touch nest.
O is for Open Farm Day coming at the end of July when farm visits are free, family oriented and full of nostalgia.
P is for parades, several of which just happen to be scheduled on Thursday, July 4.
Q is for Quakers who settled here in the 1800s. Belgrade's Quaker Burying Ground is on Route 8 opposite the Pine Grove Cemetery.
R is for rainbows arched over woodlands and lakes.
S is for swimming and sunscreen and sandals.
T is for theater and all the great performances and theater camps for children throughout the summer.
T is also for turtles sunning on logs.
U is for umbrellas warding away rain or sun.
V is for voices and echoes and whoops and calls — the excited voices of children discovering and enjoying a day at a lake.
W is for waves and whitecaps on a windy day.
X is for xenial, meaning hospitable especially to visiting strangers or foreigners or a friendly relation between a host and guest. Sounds like summer in central Maine.
Y is for youth and the hard-working Youth Conservation Corps that helps preserve and protect the Belgrade lakes.
Z is for zoo and yes there is one: DEW Haven in Mount Vernon. There also may be petting (of pets) zoos at the summer fairs and fests and instrument petting zoos (try out an instrument) at some of the summer concerts.
Finally, of course, Z is for the great zzzz's of summer slumber. Awesome!