It has been two days since Ace and I departed — to venture up to the northeasternmost part of the state, like John Steinbeck did 50 years ago — but our trip up the coast of Maine, onto Mount Desert Island and around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park has got to be one of the highlights of our four-plus months on the road so far.
So forgive us as we, well, reflect.
The mountains, the lakes, the ponds, the crashing surf, the mossy forests, the sunrises and sunsets, the dog park, the rocks, the cliffs, the quaint towns and scenic winding roads — thinking back on it all makes me heave a big sigh, and try to figure out a way to get back.
It’s a place, at once, so vastly civilized and vastly uncivilized, offering nature in its rawest forms, or, if you prefer, a horse drawn carriage ride to enjoy the traditional tea and popovers.
I didn’t pop for that, but I did have some magnificent blueberry pancakes — an “order of blues,” as they say — at Jordan’s Restaurant, and a memorable Greek pizza at Tamarind, the restaurant owned by the couple that provided Ace and me with a room, multiple tours and the run of their property for two days.
Ron and Karen Greenberg were the consumate hosts, and Ace mostly got along with their animals.
There were Spike and Two Spikes, both named for the white streaks on their otherwise black foreheads, a thoroughbred named Mona and a white pony named Goblin (right), who was probably my favorite — probably because he reminded me so much of a dog.
That may be because Karen has trained the 34-year-old pony using something called the Pirelli method, which is based on understanding the psychology, personality and nature of horses. Its practitioners say it leads to a “deep, seamless and mutually beneficial human-horse relationship.”
I’m no expert on it, but my guess is — given that the key is trying to understand why a being behaves as it does — it’s a good philosophy to practice with dogs as well, not to mention other animals, like humans. Understanding and emotionally connecting, I’d think, are much more useful than berating, punishing and criticizing — as any good horse trainer, school teacher, parent,or dog owner can tell you.
And it’s a good practice when it comes to places, too. Learning its history, geography, geology, dipping your toe in its surf, sitting on its rocks, hiking its trails, cleaning its dirt out from underneath your fingernails all lead to better appreciating a place.
Ron and Karen, who have lived there for 30 years, were perfect examples of that. In our travels, it has been heartwarming to come across people who truly love where they live, to the extent that they want to show if off, whether it be Albuquerque or Acadia.
Almost like proud parents, they address the highlights, pull out photos, show off the trophies — and in the process, they pass that emotional connection they have on to you.
It’s almost as if what they’ve seen over decades, or a lifetime, in a place, starts being reflected in you — even if you only got to spend a day or two there.
It’s the best kind of contagiousness.
And on Mount Desert Island, I caught it.