Location: Bowdoin / Magazine / Blogs / 2010 / The Gifts of Summer

The Gifts of Summer

Story posted September 02, 2010

Author: Alison Bennie, Editor

Alison Bennie, EditorMaine summers are full of messages to us. The first and most obvious is this: the gift of them is extravagant and lush and practically painful in its glory, but it is fleeting. With only 10 weekends or so to experience summer here, you learn quickly: pay attention to the weather and the tides, make note of the calendar of events in your local newspaper, get up early, and don’t waste a minute of the beauty.

The second message arrives with summer guests. When your friends from away arrive, and you take them to the beach or the Bowdoin quad or to a lobster shack or —best yet—out on the water, you find yourself seeing the College and Brunswick and Maine through their eyes, and you realize anew how wondrous and rare it is here. Bowdoin is blessed to be not only beautiful in itself, but to be in a beautiful part of the world.

The third message is that no gift of this size comes without its challenges. And for us —in Maine in summer—that means drivers who don’t understand the unconventional yield sign at First Parish Church or the state law about stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, crowds where there are none the rest of the year, and still almost no parking spots along Campus Drive. The message of this one may be more commercial, but it is no less essential: be patient with newcomers, thank them for coming (and, yes, spending), and wish them a safe trip home.

It strikes me that all this is a little like any college experience. It is hard to realize at the time, in the midst of the work of classes and internships and sorting out the financing of tuition bills and the simple act of growing up and finding yourself, but life presents you with the great gift of beauty on a daily basis, especially if you are lucky enough to be a student at Bowdoin, and your only real job is to notice. Furthermore, you must act fast, as the offer expires sooner than you think. Finally, you should thank those who, even if they are difficult from time to time, make it all possible.

I think of all this as I review this issue not only because it is the summer and so it is on my mind, but also because these pages contain a distinct reminder of the fleeting seasons. The cover photo of our exquisite dancer, Kelsey MacEachern ’10, was shot at the Coastal Studies Center dock on one of the coldest days of the winter, when we had to orchestrate the shoot to correspond with a sun that set at 4:30 in the afternoon. (Afiya Wilson ’11 was a second very patient and freezing model that day.) Looking at those photos brought to mind not only the resilience and cooperative spirit of these dancers—and see the inside cover or the photo of Victoria Guen and Beau Breton for other examples from that same time—but also made me grateful to be here, determined to take advantage of the gift, and resolved to protect it.

I hope, looking at this issue, remembering your time in this place, you feel that way, too.

AMB