Posted by: syncopated1 | June 3, 2011

The Tower at the top of Mount Battie

The young man wound his way north along the coast of Maine. The weather this Memorial Day couldn’t have been more perfect for the day’s drive (barring divine intervention anyway): it was hot and sunny in the way that just gets into everything. There was no way to stay hidden from the sun that day, so he let it permeate his whole self and could not but feel incredibly cheerful. He pulled into Camden around 4:30 PM, navigated the late afternoon tourist traffic, jostled his way onto a side street, and hooked his Honda into an empty parking slot.

Camden has a peculiar layout. The downtown area is comprised of Coastal Route One that snakes its way through town under the guise of Main Street in a heavy arch that transforms itself into an “S” shape on its way out the northeast side of town. The shop where one of the young man’s newer, yet closer, friends works is located right in the middle of the shore side of “Main Street.” A fascinating little shop to be sure: delights to be found in every corner; wares carefully selected to cater to the American middle to upper class, hooked rugs imported from China, tableware crafted by artisans, Mongolian letter boxes. All of which seemed to have been artfully displayed so as to logically and continually pique a potential customer’s interest from the doorway, enticing them ever further into the venue.

The young man had been enjoying his travels in Downeast Maine that day, but he was aware of the time and mindful that he had to awake bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning for work and only intended to make a quick stop in Camden before continuing home to Bar Harbor. When he entered the shop his friend, a young woman, was standing behind the register with another woman, lightly engaged in conversation and he nearly made it to the counter before she noticed him. When she did turn, he was rewarded with a dazzling smile spreading across her face in greeting, hugs were given, along with a handshake and introduction to her coworker.

Dazzled by the knick-knacks and hats, and odds and ends contained in the store the man meander about (very mindful of his mother’s lesson of, “You break it, you buy it!” all the while), catching up with the young woman while she minded house. The morning had been very busy, making the day as a whole a success for the store, but the afternoon had been quite still. In fact, while the young man was there he was the only other soul in the shop. Slow enough anyway that the young woman, in a whimsical fit, abruptly asked if the young man if felt he had the energy to “run up the mountain behind her apartment?”

The shop was closed not ten minutes later and they were out the door and headed to her apartment to change and water up in preparation for this adventure neither had planned for. A short time after that and many, many attempts at hand stands and one-handed cart-wheels later, they were off. The day had worn itself into a very warm and incredibly sunny evening. As the two worked their way into the woods and up Mount Battie, the conversation between them never faltered. Well, it faltered only when one paused to observe delightedly at how many tangents and spin-offs the talk had woven itself through and the other reassured the first that staying on topic was somewhat irrelevant.

The hike to the top of Mount Battie is a short one, but very steep, and by the time they took the last step to the top of the stone tower that graces the summit they were both sweating and winded, despite the young man being in the best shape of his life and she being easily four times more fit than that. The descent was a trail that navigated its way through the woods removed just far enough away from the road. They saw  a veritable groves of Lady’s Slippers, fallen trees great for climbing and jumping, immense rock faces ideal for future bouldering, and they learned new and fun ways to divine paths from deep and wide mud pits. The world was alive and green in that forest, the ground floor dappled in sunlight that broke willfully through the foliage, and the air awash of that specific scent that only comes after the late Spring rains followed by warmth and sunlight that cause plants to bud; announcing to all the entire state that Summer has indeed arrived.

The loose conclusion of the spontaneous evening adventure was at the Old World Potato in downtown Camden. Here the conversations between the two continued to flow effortlessly over simple fare of a salad (hers) and a cup of sweet potato scallion chowder (his) and peanut butter and honey and banana and bacon sandwiches (they both ordered the “La Viva” on account that they had never had such a creation). Delicious food was merged harmonious with delicious talk ranging from interpersonal relationships, personal growth, and child-rearing to strength and autonomy of person, and music and dancing, and exercising, and even topics so far afield as the Rapture.

When the young man finally did continue on his way northeast and home, he rode in silence for close to the first hour; a strange and almost reverent silence. The quiet seemed to aptly pay homage to the last 6 hours of laughter and cheer. He was struck by the clear contrast this friendship had taken in relation to his other close friends: throughout his life he had seemed to collect friends similar to himself. People that needed to no words to describe their comradery, people just as comfortable in silence as they are in voice, feeling no need to fill silence. During that late night drive, the young man wracked his mind trying to think of any moment where he was searching for something to talk about with the young woman; and could not find one. He was fascinated to be aware of the fact that this young lady had the ability to, even while hiking a mountain or kicking into handstands, wholly engage him, and he her, and together seamlessly and comfortably give chase to the reaches of their minds in the most verbose marathon he had ever run. With a mind alight with thought and energy the young man worked his way into the dark of Maine’s coast.


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