Well, clear my schedule and bust out the board games – the youngest kiddo is home from college.

Home for a week or two, that is. In no time at all, he will be packing up his car again to head out on his internship, and then it will be back to campus.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at heather@heatherdmartin.com.

So in this tiny little window of time, yes, there will be board games.

If you yourself are not into them, I am so sorry. You’re missing out.

Back when the boys were little, board games were an everyday “just leave it set up at the end of the table” sort of thing and we imbued them with great ceremony. Candles were lit, we drank our juice from the fancy goblets, and we played fully attired in costume from the dress-up trunk – fancy hats and all. Ambiance matters.

It’s been a while since I’ve coaxed one of my kiddos into a fancy hat, let alone the rest of it, but the games themselves remain.


A new favorite in our house is Botany, the game of Victorian plant hunting.

OK. Yeah, I see how that reads on a page – but trust me, it is a good time. To play, you first select your “estate,” choose a persona, then travel around the world map, pausing to collect specimens (the plant illustration cards are a joy to look at) and earning reputation points as well as money. You can build garden features, including an orangery and … Hmm. Rereading it, that still sounds sort of dweeby. I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for it. Better yet, go snag a copy for your own home and give it a whirl.

Having only just arrived, the kiddo hasn’t even tried that one yet. But that’s not to say there hasn’t already been a game. Of course there has been a game, our all-time favorite and our standard go-to: Wingspan.

Do you play? Oh my gracious, it’s worth it. If you’re a bird nerd, this game is extra-extra, but even if you are not, it’s a lot of fun to play. Each turn offers opportunities to get food, establish various birds in habitats, amass eggs or mess up another player’s plans. The instructions are daunting at first, but once you’ve done a round or two, it all makes sense.

The kid tends to win this one. His brain is better wired than mine for the sort of strategic thinking needed to rack up the points. I tend to get lost in the moment with “oh, my goodness, look how cute this bird is. Where does it live?” and when I look up again he’s pulled some amazing move that wipes out all my plans.

This is fine with me, though. With a good game, it’s not about the winning or the losing. Well, wait. That’s not entirely true. There is joy in a good trounce.

The real joy, though, comes from the playing. No screens. No phones. No attention-devouring devices of any sort. Just a fancy piece of cardboard, some wooden cubes and a few cards that through a form of magic and alchemy transform an ordinary hour into a sacred space of togetherness and connection. Games require you to give your most precious resource: your time and your attention.

You have to fully be there.

Maine, particularly summer in Maine, happens to be attractive to people from away for a visit. Take advantage of this. Invite all the ones you love and when they arrive, put the phones in a box, an umbrella drink in their hands, and settle down to make some memories around the board game of your choice. You won’t regret it.

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