I regularly try to explain to my out-of-state friends the seasonal rhythms of Maine, which boil down to this: We’ve got six seasons, each lasting about two months and all marked by subtle progressions in what we wear and how much we get out of the house. Of those seasons, none is more important than July and August, or what we call summer.

People who live in the darkened concrete canyons of big cities often lose track of seasons, but here in Maine their constant appearance and disappearance shapes all of us, and our collective character.

The Maine way seems to be to work as hard as you can from September to June. Then, unless you’re part of the tourism industry, work as little as possible from July Fourth to Labor Day. Not that we don’t show up at work and try to look productive, but our minds are mostly at play, or wishing they were. Think of it as Maine’s version of the Mexican siesta applied to a year.

We take a lot of pride in our work during the 10 months that aren’t summer, but nothing, and I mean not-any-thing, is going to keep us from exercising our God-given and probably constitutional right to goof off in the summer. If there is anywhere a DNA for matching hard work with hard play, we’ve got it and we’re not letting go.

To most Mainers, not working during the summer is a perfectly normal and sensible thing to do. We go as far as to feel an uneasy suspicion toward people who power their way through summer, which seems to be both dangerously out of balance and possibly harmful to others.

When it comes to summers, we seem to have firmly adopted an attitude described in the famous joke during the communist days in Russia: “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”


And why shouldn’t we? We spend most of our winters looking out the windows, dreaming about green lawns and camps, cookouts, gardens and golf courses. It’s awfully hard, come midsummer, to watch it all go by without dropping everything and running out the door.

Summer is such a precious commodity here in Maine, in fact, that it’s become too important to be interrupted by things like politics. The last thing a columnist should do in August is to subject anyone to serious thoughts about the future. In some ways, the mere fact of writing about weighty issues is in its own way a bit un-Maine. Everything has its time and season.

My home office, where I write these columns, is another problem. Oh, it’s perfect for writing, being both quiet and peaceful, overlooking gently rocking sailboats and an occasional heron spearing dinner. But not 20 paces outside my window, beckoning to me every day at this time of year, are tall bushes bent with ripe blueberries and thick patches of deep-red raspberries. All of which drives me, inevitably, to flee to the nearest incubator space, which some people still call cafes.

Cafes are great writing places, if you can concentrate while being rolled around in a noisy washing machine. They’re full of old friends loudly catching up, runaway children, summer dresses, floppy T-shirts and sandals, all sharing space with earnest business meetings and a jumbled symphony of phone conversations dancing overhead.

Taking all of these things together, I’ve decided to take a break from these columns between now and Labor Day. I’ll be back after that, focusing on the critically important governor’s race, with both guns blazing.

Between now and then, I’ll share this small gift to anyone who’s read this far. It speaks to a favorite topic of mine, which is to try to remember to be grateful for all we have, now. These words come from a song that’s been regularly reappearing in my head all summer. It’s called “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by country singer Trace Adkins.


On the surface, the song is about children growing up and moving on, and people always rushing to the next thing without appreciating the moment they’re in. I think of it as mostly about being grateful for great gifts like August in Maine.

“You’re gonna miss this,

“You’re gonna want this back

“You’re gonna wish these days

“Hadn’t gone by so fast.

“These are some good times


“So take a good look around

“You may not know it now

“But you’re gonna miss this.”

See you all in September!

Alan Caron is a partner in the Caron & Egan Consulting Group and president of Envision Maine, which is working to promote Maine’s next economy. He can be contacted at:

alancaroni[email protected]

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