The state slogan doesn’t lie, summer in Maine really is the way life should be.
Every summer for nearly as long as I can remember my mother would load up the van with our luggage, beach chairs, boogie boards, coolers and sand toys. My brothers and I and would pile in and we’d wind out of Vermont, through New Hampshire and into lower Maine to whatever house trade had been arranged that summer. We stayed in a variety of little towns over the years, but the times we spent in Ogunquit hold the strongest memories for me.
We spent most of our time at the Footbridge Beach, aptly named for the footbridge you have to take to cross the saltwater inlet that separates the beach from the town. My brothers spent hours fishing for crabs off that bridge, tying hot dogs to empty plastic strawberry containers and lowering them into the water. Pulling the homemade traps up at just the right speed to keep the crabs attached. Bragging to the other kids that they were able to catch more, and if not more, theirs certainly were bigger.
I spent hours walking up and down the 3-mile stretch of sand with my cutoff jeans and sunburned nose, listening to the latest Guns N’ Roses single on my walkman over and over and over and over. One summer, a friend of mine came out to Ogunquit with us and we met a boy from Quebec who told us all about escargot. We pretended to be fascinated and impressed, and then secretly made gagging faces behind his back.
The water in the Atlantic seemed like ice water to me, but we went swimming anyway because there are no beaches in Colorado. There was always an abundance of seaweed in the ocean and we would drag it out by the fist-full and make it into wigs to decorate my youngest brother’s head when we turned him into a sand-sculpture mermaid.
Lunch was lobster rolls, and fried clams, and grilled cheese at the seafood shack up the street. Dinner was twin lobsters with baked potatoes and corn, followed by blueberry ice cream from the place right in the center of town.
When I smell sunscreen, I see that beach. For me, it represents an idyllic point of childhood, some of the best summer memories I have.
When Justin and I arrived in Ogunquit last Friday night, the first time I’ve been in more than 15 years, the first thing we did was walk down to the Footbridge Beach to watch the sunset. We passed a group of boys catching crabs off the bridge.
“Wow, you have quite a lot there!” I exclaimed. “What are you using as bait?”
They were using hot dogs.