You may have noticed that I changed the header image on the main page of my blog. It used to picture the river near where we live but now is from my favorite place on earth: Hiram Blake Camps. Ever since I was little, my parents have been taking me to the coast for the best kind of Maine vacation. Over the years, this tradition has adapted as our lives have changed. They first went to Hiram Blake before I was born. Then they took me as a baby ( they're brave ! ) and then as a kid--once even shuttling back and forth for half day kindergarten.
In my childhood, we spent time here with my cousins. It's truly a place that represents family to me. I have so many fond memories of camp fires, s'mores, cooking meals together, dancing, going for walks, swimming, exploring islands, looking for treasure and sea glass, playing at the playground, watching fireflies, and having the best summer vacations here as a kid with cousins and then friends who were more like family. There are nearby trails my family would hike and parts of the woods my friends and I would build fairy houses on. What's even better is that about 11 years ago ( has it really been that long?! ) we had our family reunion there.
My family came from other states, across the country, and even foreign countries just to see each other. We had t-shirts made and cooked dinners in teams for each other. Even though it rained for most of the week ( thanks, Maine! ) we watched movies together, read books, and some of them played soccer in the mud and rain!
The most important part was that we had a place to be together. It's one of my all time favorite memories in my all time favorite place, and it's what HBC means to me: A place and time to be together and remember how important family is in our lives.
In the last few years, my family has started to go during the 4th of July week to accommodate my teacher schedule. At first we weren't sure how to celebrate the 4th on the coast ( drive to the fireworks? just do sparklers? ) but then a few years ago we got our boat stuck on some rocks ( oops! ) and had to come back late at night--on the 4th--to get it when the tide came back up, and a tradition was born. It's so fun to see multiple towns' fireworks, whether from the comfort of the cabin ( I don't mix that well with boats ) or the boat.
One of the fun parts of going to HBC in the summer is that your stay includes your breakfast and dinner, which is like being back in college but with good food ! We were pretty pumped that we were there for donuts and chocolate mouse pie.
In order to help you get to know other campers, you are seated with different cabins throughout the week and it's fun to get to know people who've also found themselves at HBC and share a meal together.
The farmhouse dining room, where we all meet for meals, is a book lover's dream: It has a ceiling literally full of books. If my house looked like this someday I could die a happy woman.
The best of the best though, for me, is the peace I feel being by the water. My favorite thing to do is to sit on the porch by the water and either just look, listen, and be present or read a book. I am never as relaxed as I am at HBC reading a book ( or three, which I got to do in the few days I spent there this year!).
Later, my dad took us out on his boat to nearby Spectacle Island ( named by its spectacle-like appearance, but at high tide you can actually boat between the two sides of the island ! ). It's our tradition to visit the island at least once a vacation to search for sand dollars, sea glass, sea urchins, or other fun finds. Since we got there by boat, I didn't bring a camera, but we found beautiful, deep red sand dollars and watched sea gulls dive bomb a bald eagle. I did manage to snap the sunset when we got back.
It's a whole new world when you can just listen to the waves and truly unplug--the reception is limited and there's no internet, hallelujah! It takes a while but after a few hours I no longer miss my phone, social media, or the internet and I remember how to read, how to focus, how fun it is to just sit and talk or even just look around and notice, how to read a book or imagine, and best of all how to be present with other people. My family spent a lot of internet-free time working on an intense puzzle while I read.
I also love to wake up, listen to the quiet morning sounds, and head out on a walk to a nearby beach, which is exactly what we did the last morning we were there.
Without the noise of social media, television, and even music, I started to hear my own voice again. It's amazing how it can be drowned out by everything and everyone else. Sometimes, especially as an introvert, I need that quiet so badly in order to recharge.
Recently there's been so much happening in the world and it's been making me think about the need to rest. This article really struck me when it talked about the importance of doing nothing and what happens when we allow ourselves to rest.
Our gifts, energy, and creativity take work but that's the most important work we can do -- bring our own light and gifts into the world; in order to do so, we need to let ourselves be. So, even though I'm not at HBC anymore, I'm reminding myself that life doesn't happen in front of or behind a screen but with other people and with ourselves. I'm remembering to let myself rest, notice, and listen to the waves I can still hear if I try. Let yourself rest, friends; it's good for the soul.