Sharing the Path: Sun-Guilt and Summer Fun in Maine

brown sand beside body of water

I love summer in Maine. I take it for granted this is where I live, forgetting it is a place of vacation get-away for many. I don’t even travel far from home to suddenly be at a beautiful beach. Of course, the water is much colder than many would tolerate, but I don’t mind. I love being underwater. I don’t stay long, but I adore the sensation of dunking under, getting my head completely submerged, and coming up into the warm heat (it needs to be at least 75, preferably 79 or above). I find this incredibly therapeutic.

I, though, tend to suffer from sun-guilt. With my usual winter/spring/fall routine of working indoors, mostly in my apartment, all day, waiting for the words to come and the daily tasks to move through me, I have a hard time seeing how beautiful it is outdoors, feeling like I should be taking advantage of the short season of heat and sunshine. It seems crazy to struggle with such a thing, as I realize there are those feeling guilty when out playing in the sunshine, not working. I have no idea how I developed sun-guilt, but it has been with me for many years now.

I will guess it is a product of being a Mainer. I moved here from NYC in 2001, and after 18 years it still feels new in many ways. I know that Mainers, in general, are known for using the summer months to play outdoors on some pretty sophisticated levels: hikers, bikers, kayakers, canoers, lake-goers, rocky-beach travelers. There are so many incredible places to go and so many amazing things to do. I, being simple in these ways, mostly just like to go to the closest convenient beach (where there is easy parking and not more than a 30-minute drive). I marvel, however, at the extent of sailing, rugged mountain climbing, wilderness retreating, island-dwelling, and coast-exploring people engage in. This is not me. I am happy to get outside, take a walk or local bike ride to ingest the fair-temperature, glow. This simplicity, however, does not come without its share of unease.

This summer, I have ventured a bit further. During a week-plus span where I had forgotten to renew my car inspection sticker, not wanting to take the risk of getting a (quite hefty) ticket, I decided to ride my bike everywhere I needed to go that could not be achieved via a walk. I should mention that I recently moved from one side of town to another, enhancing my proximity to some places, and removing many of the hills I generally loathe! Eager to take advantage of my familiar beach experience, I decided to ride to some of the local and not so local beaches. This entailed riding over the Casco Bay Bridge, which was quite awesome unto itself, and one time doing a 16-mile round-trip ride to my usual beach. I will admit it was fantastic, and not particularly difficult (Southern Maine has some wonderfully generous and inviting bike lanes and paths). And, I adored riding everywhere around town just to do local chores. Well, needless to say, now that the sticker has been reinstated on my windshield, I am back to my car, which I kind of appreciate, though I will keep some of the biking options I discovered in store. I find biking to be an incredible feeling with the wind, air, unique sense of freedom, and independence from maneuvering tons of metal around me. I cared enough about increasing my bike usage as to opt for the Silver level of maintenance at the bike shop yesterday over the usual Bronze of $69.00. It felt worth it to invest in the vehicle and my travels upon it, as I so naturally spend money on car repairs when needed. I will happily integrate more bike riding into my repertoire of summer festivities in Maine.

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