July on a Small Maine Island

Is there a better month anywhere than July on a small island off the coast of Maine? Although I’ve had the good fortune to travel widely, I haven’t found a better place to spend the peak summer month. Swimming, boating, lolling in the hammock, as well as fairs and festivals fill up the month. And the weather is glorious. Sometimes steamy, yes, and an occasional thunderstorm, but for the most part it’s a month of clear blue skies and gorgeous weather.

The Fourth of July has come and gone once again, but we still see fireworks on the mainland as small midcoast towns continue to celebrate summer with local fairs and celebrations. And occasionally we see them even closer to home. Our neighbors recently celebrated a special event with fireworks set off from their dock into the water. It was a spectacular sight right in our own backyard.

July has been my favorite month since childhood. School was over, hot weather and summer camp had arrived, and there was still plenty of time when I returned from camp to enjoy the beach and friends before having to think about school again. And when my camp days were over, it was time for a summer job followed by late-night swims and clambakes at the beach.

I’ve begun a book about year-round life on a small Maine island in response to many emails and inquiries, so stay tuned, continue to follow this occasional blog when you can, and feel free to share your own thoughts about Maine with me.

Savor the last days of July. We will recall them fondly next January!

A lobster bake on the beach is a highlight of summer in Maine. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond
Dock’s out! Float’s out! Families on a small Maine island enjoy summer’s every fleeting moment. Photo (c) Karen Hammond

Life on a small Maine Island — July

A tranquil Maine harbor in summer. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond
A tranquil Maine harbor in summer. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond
July at last. It has always been my favorite month. The world seems to have come into its own with trees finally turned green, flowers in bloom, and birds singing from dawn to dusk. Very hot weather is rare in Maine, so even the occasional scorching day seems like a treat…especially after last year’s brutal winter.
Perhaps this summer you’ll travel to midcoast Maine and visit some of the islands that attract so many writers and artists. Monhegan, “the artists’ island” is perhaps the best known, with seasonal ferry service from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, and Port Clyde (in winter, there’s only service out of Port Clyde). But there are other wonderful islands to explore, including Isle au Haut, Matinicus, and several islands in Casco Bay, off Portland. Don’t expect big-city amenities, but do expect comfortable lodgings, New England comfort food, and a chance to see a part of Maine that many visitors miss. If you plan to stay overnight, do make advance reservations since hotel or B&B rooms are limited.
If islands are not your thing, try a drive along the midcoast region and explore some of the fishing villages like New Harbor and Tenants Harbor for a look at a traditional Maine way of life.
From my office on my own little island I’m looking out at glass-calm seas, with sailboats scooting along and lobster boats starting to come into port with the day’s catch. The little village is bustling — at least compared to winter when there are only 100 of us out here — and it’s nice to see summer residents and visitors in town again. By September most will be gone and the island will fold back into itself. Life ebbs and flows on my small Maine island, much like the tides that surround us.
I hope everyone is having a great summer thus far and one that will include a trip to this lovely part of the country. Enjoy!

What’s Not to Love About July?

Hot and muggy it may be at times, but to me nothing beats the month of July. If May is a month of promise, and June is a tease of what’s to come, then July is the time when everthing comes to fruition.  Gardens are at their best (at least for those who, unlike me, keep up with the weeds), boating season here in Maine is at its peak, ospreys and bald eagles soar overhead, and virtually everyone has a smile on his or her face. It’s hard to be grumpy when the sun is shining and you’re living in a state whose motto  is “The Way Life Should Be.”

One of the great sights here in Maine is the Pemaquid Lighthouse on the Pemaquid Peninsula. Of course we have a lot of lovely lighthouses, but this one was chosen for the state quarter—and with good reason. A little park surrounds it where you can eat a picnic, go for a walk, or visit the adjacent art gallery. Climb to the top of the tower for a great view and be sure to visit the museum in the former keeper’s house.

Hot weather. Lighthouses. The first wild Maine blueberries (more on these later). Ocean water warm enough to swim in! Is it any wonder that I dream of July all winter long? And did I mention hot weather??