The past week I was in Maine celebrating the 51st anniversary of my in-laws’ marriage. They invited the 16 members of their immediate family to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park to gather and enjoy time together in a beautiful setting. Three generations of their family were present, with the youngest grandchild being just over two years old.
Early in the evening of the first full day of the trip, the entire family was enjoying the backyard. People were throwing a football, playing badminton or volleyball, or sitting and talking together. With an amazing backdrop of Bar Island and Frenchman Bay, the sights and sounds of the family together registered to me as a wonderful shared moment. I appreciated the magnitude of the event, the cumulation of a 51-year marriage, the family their union created, and the generosity and effort required to get everyone together on that day. The backyard scene was a wondrous moment that felt symbolic of the blessings realized from a monumental 51-year commitment.
Acadia National Park is a spectacular place for a family gathering. From Cadillac Mountain to Jordan Pond to Thunder Hole, there are many diverse and stunning things to experience. The park has sandy beaches, glacier scarred mountain faces, rocky seaside cliffs, vast forests, and clear flowing streams. All the habitats are connected, just like a family, but no two areas are the same.
Two of my favorite activities during the week were “tide pooling” and watching the gorgeous sunsets each evening. Tide pools are created during the changing tides, which leave behind isolated areas of water within the intertidal zone. By walking slowly and kneeling down to peer into the pools, we found barnacles, periwinkles, dog whelks, sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and sand dollars. It amazed me that so many animals could live in a square foot of a tide pool.
Looking out at the sunsets is equally mesmerizing. The vibrant mix of colors seemed to last for hours. Reflecting off the water and backlighting silhouettes of trees created a masterpiece with each glance. The enormity of the color-drenched landscape during the sunsets took me to the opposite end of the spectrum from the view of a tide pool at the end of my toe.
The dramatic change in scale of observing the smallest periwinkle in a tide pool and then the infinite panoramic view from atop a mountain was mirrored in other experiences during the trip. One of my favorite moments occurred while walking with my five-year-old nephew. We had just returned home from visiting the Land Bridge and taking in the views of the harbor and its faraway islands and boats. As we walked through the backyard, he suddenly stopped. He spotted a buttercup flower and quickly bent to pick the flower. As he was standing back up, a giant smile came over his face. “This is a buttercup. My Mommy would love this flower,” he said cheerfully. He took an excited step forward and then abruptly stopped again to grab another flower. “Mimi too!” He then ran to the house to give his mother and grandmother the flowers. His sweet, kind gesture gave me a warm smile. His heart is incredibly big for such a little guy.
Another favorite moment was the opportunity to fish one of the small brooks in Acadia. Exploring the small stream near Seal Harbor, I was able to find some small but willing brook trout to take some parachute Adams and CDC & Elk flies. Although I was excited to try my new maple syrup flies, I did not have any success. I’ll have to add another trip to Maine sometime in the future to try the maple syrup fly in stillwater and some larger streams. Showing the photos of the brook trout I caught to my family, my brother-in-law made the joke that, “size doesn’t matter.” I chuckled and thought to myself…I knew someone would say that! And then I thought about how, over our lifetime, all the small moments–the small fish, flowers, and shells–combined with all the big moments–accomplishments, milestones, and amazing sunsets–can create one wonderful life. We just need to pay attention to the small details and still be able to pause and look at the broader perspective.