Little did I know when our family first decided to vacation in Maine in the summer of 1985 with our three small daughters under the age of 9, it would put in motion a foundation for a tradition that to this day our family and extended family still enjoy.
Over the years we ventured back to our sweet spot in Maine where we met several families with children of similar ages that quickly became BFFs for life with my girls. The girls and their friends sobbed every year on the last day of vacation and 50 weeks later they all reunited like no time had passed. We were very fortunate that the parents of these children were wonderful people and over the years the adults enjoyed our times together as much as our children.
Over the years our colony families enjoyed campfires, canoe trips, hayrides, trips to the beach, the penny candy store, ice cream, playing restaurant, and eating lobsters caught the same day at our favorite lobster pound on the water. We also enjoyed the local entertainment, marginal rock and roll bands, karaoke night and hands down the kids favorite, a children’s singer songwriter, who to this day our offspring can still recite the lyrics and remember all hand motions to most of his songs.
The kids had a carefree two weeks in Maine, and we were not spared the teenage craziness, late night curfews, dating within the gang, and probably their hands down favorite, an overnight camping trip to a deserted island on the lake accessible only by canoe. Unbeknownst at the time to the teens, there was always a watchful eye by the parents. Upon their return the next morning, we would awake to the loud commotion on the peaceful lake before 7:00AM of the tired, hungry, bug bitten, sunburned group, ready to shower, eat and sleep in the remainder of the day.
As the kids grew up, went off to college, got married and had children of their own, many didn’t make it back to Maine for many years, but by and large, the parents kept showing up. Each year when we reunite it brings forth a feeling of completing the circle, of friendship and warmth. We share the ups and downs of the past year, the good stuff, the not so good stuff and all the stuff in between,
Of course with a group of many families over the span of over 34 years there were many changes, we lost one of the dads to cancer in the early 90’s just as the oldest kids were heading off to college, then in the early 00’s two of the couples divorced, and a few years later, tragically, one of the youngest of the kids, at that time in her early 30’s died in a horrific accident. It was the summer after her funeral some of the original children, now adults with children of their own, decided to come back for a service of remembrance. We met at the dock at sunset and launched paper boats lit with tiny votive candle made lovingly by her parents. We sang songs, said a collective prayer and then sat around a campfire and exchanged our best stories about this brave, sweet woman. When her mother thinks of her daughter, she thinks of her in a kayak gliding across the lake to the sound of loons and that is the image brings her the most peace.
I was half of one of the couples that divorced and when the divorce was very new and raw one of my biggest fears was that I would no longer be part of the Maine Colony, but with time and healing, we’ve moved forward with our respective new spouses and we are all able to enjoy our friends, children and grandchildren for this one week every year.
Very shortly it will be time for us to gather in our special spot in Maine and reconnect with our Colony. The grandchildren are getting excited about meeting up again with the friends they’ve made in previous years, just as we’re excited about spending quality time our group of friends.
I hope you each have an opportunity to find your own special Colony, to share the ups and downs of life, to listen, to learn and to love….oh, and to eat lobster together!