A Late Summer Night’s Dream

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I was born and raised in New England but we tended to stick to Massachusetts. I don’t remember ever going to Maine as a child.

As our family grew, Jim and I began taking our little ones to Bar Harbor, Maine–a place we first visited during a summer when we both had a rare overlapping break from school and work.  I had just taken the Massachusetts Bar Exam and was about to start the new job that would turn out to be my life’s calling.

When our family was just the two of us–and in our hearts the certainty that one day there would be more–Jim had driven north in the Olds Delta 88 (otherwise known as the “Living Room on Wheels,” a vehicle that evidently screamed “short-term renters” when we eventually drove it around seeking to purchase our first home.)  He acquired it for free, a quarter million miles already under its fan belt.  It would prove to be our sturdiest and best vehicle.

Jim always did the highway driving. Always glancing left more than right as he drove. Always keeping the beat of some song in his head, even when nothing was playing on the radio.

Highway driving is one of many things I feared before I understood what is worth being afraid.

Although that first camping trip to Acadia was made with no little beings in our car (and so no one to provide cover for yours truly, who never abandoned a child’s awe at visitations of the vast), that never stopped me from endlessly wondering about cloud formations.

“That one looks like a dinosaur–more like a triceratops with gazelle horns. . . .Oh, look: an eclair!  And a banana split right next to it . . . by that pile of little cream puffs–Oh!  I’ve got it! It looks like a croquembouche!”

“Getting hungry, Steph?”


The first time we returned to Acadia as parents we had a happy, curly-haired one-year old in a pack strapped to Jim’s back.  It was a rainy October when Jim took his assured long strides around Jordan Pond.  Baby Sam smiled and laughed every time a raindrop tickled his cheeks or one of Jim’s footfalls made him bounce and settle back into the green canvas seat. I woozily followed, pregnant with the next baby.


We returned with two boys, then their baby sister, and then another.  By that time Sam was in first grade. Our son Noah lost his first tooth while visiting Acadia.  No one batted an earnest blue eye at the logistics of having to navigate the Tooth Fairy’s toll-free number to report the need for an extra-jurisdictional collection.


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Last month, on summer’s last weekend, I took my first trip overnight by myself since Jim died–in fact my first trip alone since we married.  I could see our family in every nook of the Acadia National Park Loop–our children’s little selves hand-in-hand with their dad, clad in summer cotton and climbing across the rocks atop Cadillac Mountain; skipping pebbles by eponymous Sandy Beach (where our Sam and Noah were startled to hear another mom call out “Sam, Noah!” to her similarly aged sons); the bright yellow midriff-level flower on our youngest baby’s first tiny swimsuit, at the pond near Bubble Rock where Jim swam with our children and tickled her belly and she laughed and laughed.


I was standing by myself by Eagle Lake, taking pictures of a teal kayak against the teal water, when the kayak’s silver-haired owner appeared. He took one look at me and said, “It looks like you lost your best friend.”

It turns out the kayak’s owner is a retired psychologist–evidently a pretty good one. And he lives in the Southwest Harbor, so I seized the opportunity to ask where he would go in search of sunset. He gave me meticulous directions across the island.

Soon after that, wind and rain descended.  The harbor settled under fog so thick and opaque that I could barely make out a lighthouse only yards away.  Hoping it would clear, I hiked around the island; just as the sun poked through the woods, I found the trail head that had been described to me.

I began the trek from a main road that angled into an increasingly claustrophobic path, from asphalt to gravel to dusty earth and then a carpet of copper pine needles. It was lined with an increasingly  dense collection of trees and overgrown sea grasses, both darkening and quieting the path. As bird songs faltered and fell off, I saw twisted felled trees which had been weathered into fairy tale creatures.

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Finally the path veered sharply, like an elbow pushing through a crowd, past a small orchard flecked with gnarled crab apple trees and white butterflies whose wings caught the sunlight, flickering lights joining dragonflies’ silvery-plum flashes.

Almost as suddenly as the path returned to shadowed deep woods, it emerged at an even narrower razor’s edge of a space through piled boulders to the rocky shore: a perfect view west, to a lingering gold-dusted sunset, all by myself but never entirely alone.

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About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2020 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with Wordpress protocol and the numerous other wee buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
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18 Responses to A Late Summer Night’s Dream

  1. Lovely story. I can’t imagine the strength to go to your special spots alone. But then again, I imagine that your loved ones were with you the whole time.

  2. rutakintome says:

    Wonderful writing…..it’s the journey…..

  3. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Your story is even more touching than the beautiful sunset in your photo. Thanks for the reminder of how precious the time spent with our loved ones can be for our souls.

  4. Marie Keates says:

    It takes courage to go back to these places alone but the memories they bring are worth the pain I think.

  5. It has been years since I visited Bar Harbor and Acadia, but your beautiful photos brought it all back. Loved to hear the stories as well.

  6. DeniseGlennon says:

    Loved this one!

  7. So cute! Great place for sunset! Thanks for sharing the beauty of the landscapes and the beauty of your story there.

  8. Greg Weaver says:

    Dear Stephanie, Thank you for guiding me to read “A Late Summers Nights Dream!” Touched me deeply. Beautiful moments of life, experiencing a beautiful place in the world with loved ones, more precious than gold!

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