Native and intentional Mainers are ever vigilant about the advent of summer. At least sixty days of preseason speculation are shared, over coffee, wine and church suppers, as to the eagerly anticipated arrival. Some joke we have to be on call for the exact moment or we might miss it. Yes, trees bloom, weeds sprout, and calendar dates profess to declare summer, but all have failed in one year or another. Sweaters have been worn on the Fourth of July on more than one occasion.
There is one true and official sign of a coastal summer. Sailing lessons on Penobscot Bay.
Youngsters eight to eighteen hug the shore, dressed in shorts and orange vests, regardless of the temps of air and water. Some have looks of trepidation. Is anything more vast than an expanse of sea? Instructors, not much older than the students, have experience that belies their years. They herd their students into small sailboats, comfortable for two but ideal for one intrepid soon-to-be sailor. The newbies take to their crafts and hoist sails. They fill the harbor in rare moments of trusted freedom, reliant on new-learned skills.
We on the shore drive by and pause, enthralled by their courage and the unassailable proof of the long-awaited season: exuberant white sails, confident and taut in the blur of a summer afternoon.
An overwhelming 88 stories were submitted for the contest. In the end seventeen writers were chosen. Their stories are told with depth, insight, candor, irony, wit and humor. Anyone who has every visited Maine’s coast will be able to relate to them. They’ve put humankind’s instinctive emotional connection with the sea into words.
The Maine Humanities Council provided a grant for our project that enabled the Solon Center to donate books to libraries across Maine. MHC is a statewide non-profit organization that uses the humanities, “as a tool for positive change in Maine communities.”
Please ask your local bookstore to order it in for you or, if need be, purchase itHERE. All photographic art is available through Gallery Fukurouat info(at)soloncenter.org.