I wrote a few weeks ago, after my Memorial Day Weekend jaunt to Bar Harbor, that I’d felt like that trip was going to be the start of one hell of a summer.
Over the past six years, I’ve spent slivers of the northern summer here – late July and August in 2008, most of August in 2012 and a couple of days late in the eighth month of 2013 – but I’ve never really been able to enjoy the whole season.
Obviously this is an exciting time in and of itself but, after having spent the bulk of the last six months wearing multiple layers and battling all sorts of adverse conditions, I now understand what the Mainers meant when they told me that the next few months make all that winter worth sticking out.
On top of that, now that I know what’s coming at the end of the year, I want to make the most of every single warm sunny day I’ve got up my sleeve.In saying that, though, I had high hopes of doing absolutely nothing. The forecast for Saturday was supposed to be rainy, I fully expected to have a hangover from however-many beers I consumed on Friday night to unwind from one extremely busy week at work, and I had every intention of planting my butt on the couch, ordering a pizza and watching the second season of Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.
My one social engagement was to be brunch with my landlord and his fiancee on Saturday morning at 11, but when I dragged ass out of bed at 9:30 to shower and get ready, I found a text asking if it was okay that we postponed. Having had six hours of sleep after staying up way too late to write, I wasn’t totally upset at the change of plans.
But since I’d showered and put clothes on, I figured I might as well go out for breakfast anyway, before settling in for a long day of doing absolutely nothing (and loving it). I dropped by the Downtown Diner, had a fat kid breakfast (complete with coconut cream pie!) and shot the breeze with the friendly waitresses for awhile before realizing I was probably liable to spend all day drinking iced coffee (and subsequently spend all night bouncing off the walls) if I didn’t head out. I briefly considered doing my grocery shopping for the week, but laziness took over and I went home instead.
It was actually a stunning day, and when I pulled into the driveway I found my landlord, his fiancee and a friend of hers named Victoria sitting in the backyard having an assortment of cocktails that would fit in perfectly at brunch, although there was a distinct lack of eggs on the table. They invited me to join them, and even though I knew that if I had even one it would ruin my ability to do absolutely anything for the rest of the day, I of course obliged, sealing my fate for the entire weekend in the process.
All of one’s troubles seem to disappear in a flash when one is sitting in a warm, breezy backyard with sun filtering through the branches of a big tree, with a mint julep in hand, watching the world go by. The four of us traded stories and bad jokes like we’d known each other for years, which – as someone relatively new to town and with few enough genuine friends that they can be counted on one hand – was a pretty good feeling for me. We ended up at a backyard barbecue later in the evening in Sidney, a place where one of my coworkers says no living creature likes to go, before rounding out the night with a few beers and buttermilk-fried quail (!) at the Liberal Cup, with plans to reconvene for brunch the following morning.
And what a brunch it was. My GOD. My landlord’s fiancee grew up in the South, and she cooked enough food for an army. We had biscuits and sausage gravy, cheese grits, bacon, egg pie and waffles, not to mention a frankly questionable amount of equally questionable champagne with which to make mimosas. After we ate to the point of post-feast sweats (for me, at least), Victoria offered to play designated driver down to Portland to check out the Old Port Festival. I’d never been (obviously), but it wasn’t a difficult sell: bars, bands, seafood, hanging out in the Old Port on an 80-degree day, and with a free ride there and back? HMMM LET ME THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MOMENT.
After picking up Victoria’s big brother – and I mean big; the guy’s 6’8″ if he’s an inch – we hit the road for Portland. Now I don’t wanna admit to breaking the law or anything, so for the record we didn’t find a cooler full of beers in the trunk that were leftovers from the previous day’s barbecue. And the big man in the back seat and I didn’t enjoy one or two cold ones on the way down to the big smoke.
Thanks to a non-Masshole with MA plates, who kindly let us have his parking space and the remaining six or so hours of his paid-for parking, we got a spot pretty painlessly and headed out into the throngs of people enjoying the day. The Old Port was packed, with lines outside every bar and the sidewalks at a crawl. There were a ton of street food vendors selling fried dough, vindaloo and everything in between, as well as handmade crafts, T-shirts and hats made from beer cases. When a 30-rack of PBR is $13.99, I think a cowboy hat made from the box for $20 (without the beer) is a little steep. But hey, what do I know about fashion? I wear sneakers everywhere.
To cut a long story short – and since there’s only so much you can write about the repeated consumption of booze in the daytime – it was a grand old afternoon. We caught the tail end of a cool country duo called North of Nashville, playing on a stage not far from the Portland Press-Herald offices, and then got stuck into the drinking. Our stops were, I think, MJ’s Wine Bar, Bull Feeney’s, Oasis, The Porthole, Portland Lobster Company, the Portland Pie Co. for pizza before the drive home, and the apartment of last year’s Miss Maine USA to collect Victoria’s brother, who’d elected to go solo and cook a bunch of young hot women hot dog stir fry. Now THAT is stylish (and it’s exactly what it sounds like).
Needless to say, with 10 beers and a ton of food under my belt, and a bunch of sun exposure (although no burn!), I was out cold as soon as we hit the highway headed back to Augusta. I didn’t wake up until a few blocks from home, and after that it was a matter of time before I was on my back in bed catching Zs.
Also needless to say, Monday morning gym was impossibly hard. And the first weights day of the week is always kettle-bells, which made it all the more brutal.
If the weather stays this good, and the people this friendly, I have the sneaking suspicion every Monday morning session is going to be like that from here to November.