On Friday we did something that most folks would find foolish. We headed north rather than south in the middle of winter. We flew to Maine. We left the relative warmth of Maryland (23F when we left) for the relative cold of central Maine (-9F on Sunday morning). But our time here has been full of warmth. And not simply because there’s been a fire burning non-stop in the white cast iron stove in the living room, because we’ve been with our good friends, Shawn and Andy and their daughters.
We flew into Portland around lunch-time on Friday and headed into the city to find some grub. We settled on a place called Duckfat. Now, I’m a fan of duck fat — whether its the name of a restaurant in Portland or the actual fat of a duck, so there was really no other option. I didn’t even need to look at the menu, which by the way, is full of goodness. Belgian Frittes, Brussels sprouts with lardons, brisket panini’s, a nice selection of beers — even if I’m not drinking them, I still look a the menu — and house made sodas (I did sample a cherry flavored concoction which was fantastic).
After lunch, we took a trip to L. L. Bean in Freeport. Mr. Grey had a blast looking at the fish in both the trout pond and the fish tank. We also got him a new winter jacket — a 650 fill down sweater — which ended instantly the fights about wearing his winter coat in the cold. Best $99 I’ve spent in a long time. After a sufficient amount of time (and money) was spent at Bean, we headed up the road to Oakland.
It had been two years since I saw the entire Kalback clan at one time. We instantly fell into good conversations and the kids started to play as if they’d been playing together every day for the past two years. We all snuck out on the ice of Salmon Lake for a bit before the light faded and it was an early night for everyone.
A few years ago, we visited in the fall, and I have very distinct memories of feeling like I couldn’t get enough to drink. There was plenty of beer available, but I could tell that my drinking was different than my friends. I was not satisfied with a few beers. Looking back on that, it should have been a stronger warning sign to me than it was, but I didn’t heed that warning.
Saturday, after having breakfast, we headed out in the cold and snow to a place called Quarry Road Trails, where the kids sledded and Mrs. TKD and I went for a snowshoe walk on a trail. As we were walking around I couldn’t help but think to myself, this is what its supposed to be like. This is living.
One thing about Maine that’s for certain — you get a real sense of the vastness of the world and the universe. You come to understand quickly that you are a tiny speck in terms of the rest of the universe. There’s something chilling and awesome about that realization all at once.
After returning to the house, Shawn, Andy and I went for a snowshoe hike on with their dog Cutler. I overdressed and quickly found myself hot and sweaty, which was not a good thing in the cold. We were only out for an hour, but by the time we got home, my sweaty undershirt was making me cold. I’d remember that the next day.
Sunday was very cold and the wind was chilling. My weather underground app said that it felt like -23F. I believe it. Because of that, our outside time was curtailed quite a bit. We took the kids to the local Y and they enjoyed some time in several bounce-house contraptions. Shawn was kind enough to watch the kids while Mrs. TKD and I went into Waterville and had a cup of coffee at Jorgensen’s Cafe.
Again, in the late afternoon, Andy and I took Cutler for a stroll. I wore less clothes and was not cold at the end of the hike.
In a few hours, we’ll be packing up and heading down to Portland for the night and then tomorrow we will be flying back to Maryland. It will be back to the grind for me and with that thought there is a sense of dread. That may mean its time to start making some other changes, but it’s to early to tell.