When your weekend starts with going to the beach, sipping on a cocktail, and listening to the melodic crash of breaking surf, you know it’s going to be an awesome couple days.
I headed to Higgins Beach after work on Friday to meet up with some friends. Higgins is one of the beaches that actually allows dogs, so I brought by five-year-old yellow lab, Sampson. Sampson has played in every kind of body of water imaginable: from lakes, to streams, to coves, to puddles, but what he hasn’t experienced are decent sized waves. As we made our way to the water he was noticeably elated. And when I finally unleashed him (both literally and figuratively), he dove into the mini-whitecaps, looking more aquatic than terrestrial. Sipping gin and fresh grapefruit juice out of mason jars, my friend Miranda and I waded waist deep into the water, watching Sam frenetically bounding through the surf, his eyes practically bulging out of his head in joy.
As the sun began its decent, we made our separate ways back to Portland. A quick shower and I was off to meet back up with the crew at Novare Res Bier Café . As I walked from my apartment, a salty, ocean breeze followed me. It was a typical summer night in Portland and the streets were abuzz with activity: middle-aged couples locked hands, making their way back from Portland’s finest eateries; homeless people thrust empty coffee cups at passersby; art students who decided to stay in Portland through the summer were surrounded in clouds of smoke, sauntering lazily to Sonny’s and LFK (or perhaps some hole-in-the-wall underground brewery to which only they were privy).
Making my way down Middle Street toward the small, somewhat obscured pathway that leads to the main entrance of Novare, I could see the place was packed. People flocked to the patio, drinking beers and playing “cornhole,” a game that involves tossing small bean bags into wooden planks that have circular holes cut in the center. I jostled my way through the packed bar. The brewery list at that place will level even the most capable beer sommelier. With 25 rotating taps and a selection of more than 500 bottles, choosing a drink at Novare takes time and concentration.
I went with a medium-bodied, somewhat tangy, Smuttynose Pale Ale which was served up in a wide mouth mason jar. Nudging my way out to the deck, I found my friends absorbed in a gripping game of cornhole. Miranda and Alison held their own for a time, sinking several shots, but ultimately lost to their opponents. John and I played the winners. I had only played once before, but like any good drinking game, it requires little thought and is basically about mastering the art of aim. To my surprise (and to the surprise of the growing crowd of spectators), I sunk numerous bags into the hole with seemingly little effort. A guy next to me came over and said “Who are you?!” When I said I had only played once before, then quickly sunk another shot, another person from the crowd came over to me. “Oh,” he said, in the high pitched voice guys always make when impersonating girls, “What is that called … a swish?” We won that game but, alas, were outmatched in the next by a scrappy, overzealous player who had been quietly waiting in the wings. The night ended shortly thereafter at a very reasonable hour of one a.m.
The next day the sun blasted through my curtains, rousing me from a deep sleep. After walking my dog and nursing a slight hangover with some fresh squeezed orange-carrot juice, I made my way to Brunswick for a barbecue with some friends.
When I arrived, cheeseburgers were being placed methodically onto the grill by Dave (known to his friends as “Cheesecake” for his uncanny ability to wield cream cheese and sugar into little slices of heaven). We ate burgers and ribs, coupled with pasta salad, talking about the obscure and absurd: from Dungeons and Dragons to laser hair removal. Per usual, Dave had brought an assortment of cheesecakes, this time specifically for our friend Mary to sample for her upcoming wedding. I dug into the Brandy and vanilla-chocolate swirl. The slight burn of alcohol cut through the chocolate, giving it an unexpected kick.
By the time we had finished our feast, the first raindrops of the impending storm had begun to fall. We made our way inside to the dining room where we grabbed drinks and played “Cards Against Humanity.” If you don’t know what this game is, Google it. Needless to say, it brings out the darkest, most disturbing sense of humor in anyone (a somewhat easy task to achieve with this group to begin with). After laughing for three hours straight, I made the rainy journey back to Portland.
The next morning brought more rain which was quickly replaced by sun. I geared up for my next adventure: the one hour drive to Georgetown for a day of lounging on the beach at Reid State Park with friends. It was a slow morning, but I eventually hit the road. Driving from 295 to Route 1 brought a noticeable shift in temperature. A cool sea breeze wafted into my Subaru windows as I listened to Iron and Wine and Wilco, rounding each arching curve on Route 127 with calculated purpose. When I arrived and finally found my crew of friends in the maze of this state park, I was starving. I was immediately directed to a giant spread of food: grilled meats, chips, cookies, watermelon and chocolate covered strawberries blanketed the picnic tables in our wooded barbecue site. I loaded up on food and then quickly made my way down to the gigantic rocks where half the group was sunbathing.
After about twenty minutes I walked to the beach itself. The long, yellow sands of Reid stretch out endlessly until what appears to be the outermost corners of the world. Though some people in the group had made the plunge into the Arctic cold waters, my toes were the only appendages that would suffer that onslaught. Even though I pride myself on my ability to dive into almost any body of water, I have my limits. A little more snacking at the camp site and the group disbanded, heading home to our respective Sunday evenings.
That night after frying up some Panko breaded zucchini for dinner, I sat underneath the front stoop of my apartment building, a glass of white wine in my hand. As it began to downpour, steam crept off of the pavement, dissipating into the air like fading apparitions. For a moment before I ventured back inside, I stood in the rain, letting the droplets cool my sun-soaked skin.
After a weekend like that, what more could anyone ask for?