For the last three years, I have kept a daily one-sentence journal. Every night, I write down something funny one of my kids said, or something we did, and relive memories from previous years. (There’s one page for each day of the year and each page holds five years’ worth of entries — or three if you’re a writer prone to windy reminiscences.) In addition to torturing me with tiny kid memories, and, right now, thoughts of a beloved dog we lost last summer, the journal has been useful for settling petty disputes with Mark (no, we did not stop at the supermarket on the way to Lake Willoughby last year). It also reminds me that however rapidly my children insist on aging, there are many things about our lives that remain comfortingly the same. Take the week of July fourth: We always spend this time at Mark’s family’s place on Deer Isle and, for the last several years, my records show that we have gone on the same excursions, in precisely the same order, while we’ve been there. Since we find them so enjoyable, I thought you might too. Here are our top five to-dos:
598 Sunshine Road, Deer Isle
Artist Peter Beerits’ ever-evolving outdoor sculpture garden always delights our kids and their cousins. Set on several acres, the whimsical hodgepodge of structures, figures, and creatures made of wood and “junk” includes a Western town with a general store, jail, blacksmith shop, saloon, and the perennial favorite among our crew: an occupied outhouse. Fifteen flavors of jam, chutney, and marmalade are made on site and available for tasting and purchase in a shingled café, which also offers coffee, tea, scones, and seating inside and out.
Barred Island Preserve
Goose Cove Road, Stonington
At low tide, you can hike a mile-long wooded trail to a curved sandbar connecting the mainland to stony, spruce-covered Barred Island. Swim on either side of the bar (both are equally brisk!) and take in a panorama of Penobscot Bay.
We always make a few trips to this picturesque downtown, stopping for locally roasted coffee at 44 North Coffee (check out the Deer Isle Village location, too), ice cream at the Stonington Ice Cream Company, and to ogle the menu at renowned farm-to-table restaurant Aragosta (someday!). This year, we also took the boys to watch the fireworks over the working harbor on the Fourth of July. While most people focus on the waterfront, I am equally captivated by the charming houses here.
Deer Isle-Stonington Independence Day Parade
Deer Isle Village
This adorable procession — comprised of creative marchers and floats representing local businesses, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and even the Island Nursing Home — makes two passes through town. After some rough early years, I am happy to report that everyone in our family is on board with loud noises now.
Sand Beach Road, Stonington
A rare (relatively) powdery stretch in a rocky region, Sand Beach provides peaceful swimming in a protected cove and sweeping island views.
Let me know if you go/have gone to any of these — I’d love to compare notes! — and if there are other places we should check out on our next visit.