by Esther J. Perne
On the front line, in the background, filling the many services in between, practicing precautions, keeping our world afloat...and fed: Thanks to the many heroes during the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. Thank you foremost to the scientists and the medical personnel and thank you to the decision-makers, the businesses, the creative community, the volunteers, the parents, the teachers and especially the children — our future.
Thank you, heroes.
Welcome to the summer of 2020, to the many great qualities that make this region attractive and unique, to the many small traditions that provide memories lasting and special, to the lore and legacies that set this beautiful area apart. Welcome to a new summer season so full of change and so changeless.
Summer, every summer, is an awakening, a renewal, a homecoming — sometimes experienced firsthand, sometimes relived in thoughts and memories. It is a time to be buoyed up by nature, reassured by the familiar, comforted by traditions past and encouraged by the promise of a brave new season.
Here in the Belgrade Lakes and the neighboring lakes in central Maine, in the wooded hills, in the quiet villages and burgeoning towns, the new season will be the adventure it always is — as wonderfully unpredictable as the weather.
The new season will also be an adventure because of a new variable this year — the coronavirus pandemic that confronts the world and calls for amazing adaptations in lifestyles. Strict sanitation standards, social distancing, sheltering- at-home and operating within the guidelines of medical prudence are advisable and may be part and parcel of a new way to vacation but they are small governances to observe against the glorious summer backdrop of lakes and woods and scenic roads leading to communities that welcome vacationers, visitors and passersby.
It won't be the first time that the rhythm and routines of a summer season have been reconfigured by an event overwhelming. Two centuries ago a great mystery which we now know was a volcanic explosion on the other side of the world blocked out summer entirely. A century ago a great war on the other side of the ocean caused a massive citizen immobilization that preempted the annual influx of summer guests.
Lesser historic events have affected the rhythm of this summer resort, too. Sixty-five years ago a fire leveled the legendary Belgrade Hotel escorting out the era of formal elegance and grandeur. Twenty-five years ago iconic Pine Island Boys Camp was almost totally burned, seriously testing once again the survival of the region's valuable youth camp legacy. In all these cases warmer, happier and more prosperous summers returned, peacetime migrations resumed, tourism flourished albeit under a new trend toward private family camps and Pine Island Camp achieved a stunning rebuilding victory.
There is no certainty what the season of 2020 will hold except that there will be branches blown down, sunshine on docks, the call of the loon, rain on the roof, the smell of pine needles, the hum of a mosquito, the hammering of construction and memories made of wholesome outdoor recreation, family togetherness and the revelations of nature.
The season of 2020 will hold the homecoming of vacationers who navigate the return, pull off the dust covers, pick up the blowdowns and greet the lakes and the loons. It will lead newcomers to the rewarding discovery of exciting lake views around almost every turn in the road, of nighttime skies alive with stars and of leisurely days on the waters and trails. And it will inspire dwellers from towns nearby to explore these surroundings close to home.
Welcome to the summer of 2020.