What I learned on my summer vacation:
I learned that the name of the founder of the L. L. Bean sporting goods emporium was Leon Leonwood Bean.
I learned that some pale travelers find relief from sunburn pain by slathering themselves in shaving cream, and swear that menthol is best.
I learned of a Down East Wild Blueberry Wine--a semi-sweet Maine country wine--that has this prose on its label: "Share a glass with a friend and taste a little of the fogs and wood-stoves, sunrise and crystal waters of the little peninsula on Cobscook Bay that brings it to you." I learned that I prefer the taste of fogs and wood-stoves to blueberries.
No Denims Allowed
I learned that blue jeans--no matter the designer--are not as welcome in New England restaurants as they are out West. Many door signs say "No denims."
I learned that "Keep Maine Green" means bring cash money. Especially along the docks of small cove villages, credit cards are often not accepted.
I learned that Ogunquit, that fishing village turned artists' colony, is Maine's newest town, incorporated in 1980. It's on the coast between two of the oldest: Wells, founded in 1640, and York, where the Pilgrims established a trading post in 1624.
I learned that Whitney Houston sounds wonderful in concert on a summer's night on Boston Common, especially through an open window of the superb Ritz-Carlton hotel. I learned that John Denver would be singing the next weekend and wished I could have reserved my same plush seat.
Brilliant Oboe Solo
I learned that you don't have to attend a concert to enjoy music at Tanglewood, that sweeping estate in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts that is summer home to the Boston Symphony. Though the stage was quiet that Tuesday, I heard a brilliant oboe solo float through the ladies' room of the green frame Main House rehearsal hall.
I learned that I was wrong to fear that my heart would be torn by a visit to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Presidential Museum at the University of Massachusetts campus on Boston Harbor. It was a dignified and healing experience, a celebration of life and a time in the United States and the world. The videotapes of press conferences brought special smiles. The White House desk and rocker brought the past home.