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by Esther J. Perne
Activity is in the air. There are more boaters and anglers and hikers and golfers than usual. Families are flocking to ice cream stands as always. Dogs are patiently padding about with their people. Adults are grateful that they listened to that inner voice that urged vacation no matter what is going on in the world. And the children? Their voices are louder and higher and happier just like every summer when they are let loose on lakes, in parks and around picnic tables.
The summer of 2020 is like every summer in terms of beautiful surroundings and unpredictable weather, stunning views and satisfied vacationers, hot dogs the color red and ice cream named after Maine wildlife and a wealth of outdoor recreation.
The summer so far has proven that this is the right place at the right time to enjoy the freedom of a world with fresh air, healthy recreation, calming nature and an economy that will adapt to a pandemic's health concerns and restrictions.
It's the outdoor recreation in full swing that is the mainstay of the summer because even for those who don't join in rigorous or even active exercise, outdoor recreation sustains the infrastructure that everyone loves: lakes that have committed stewards, land that is preserved against development, communities that are following Main Street plans.
As the summer of 2020 launches into August there is still a lot of season left, a lot of outdoors left, a lot of daylight left, a lot of good old-fashioned, family enjoyment for the taking.
Usually these mid-summer weeks offer a crammed calendar of planned events, gatherings, celebrations, crowds. This year they offer the freedom of just walking out the door, being close to nature, enjoying outdoor dining, outdoor movies, outdoor visits and selective outings where social distancing can be maintained.
The term "Vacationland" appeared on Maine license plates in 1936. It gave definition to a magic lifestyle everyone already knew: walks, many walks, being close to nature, enjoying outdoor visits, golf, fishing and going to town for perishables, goodies, and books.
Huge anxieties had been going on in the greater world war, economic devastation, job and home loss but here was Vacationland: lakes, trails, gardens, golf, parks, pets, people, quiet villages, the great outdoors and, in those days, above all, fishing.
There are those who say history repeats itself and those who say it has never left. When summer is in full swing, when there's still one more trail to discover, one more cove to explore, one more small town library with no waiting list for the best sellers, one more patch of shade to sit under and do nothing, and when there's one more big fish for a kid to catch, life is good. History is repeating itself and it has never left.