TED Talks, we've all either heard the phrase or follow them religiously, these short but powerful presentations are about any topic ranging from cyborgs to vulnerability. Watch some and you will be moved to tears of joy or despair, laugh until you almost pee or get jazzed up to change the world. I did three of the four this weekend as I felt no sadness while I watched current and future environmental movers and shakers rock my world.
First off, I left work on Friday and jumped in the car with a bike, numerous changes of clothes and shoes for all sorts of shenanigans, plus three audio books and got to MDI around 4pm. Truth be told, I had to partake in a cone of ice cream as I stopped for gas. John's Ice Cream in Liberty, Maine has some creamy creations and one in particular that was lovingly created by steeping mint leaves for a very fresh taste! Next time you head North on Route 3, get some...
The first event scheduled in this non-stop weekend was a welcome reception in a historic building on the College of the Atlantic campus in Bar Harbor. The first of many shockingly beautiful sights I saw this weekend just so happened to be a tree out front. With all my nature knowledge I still can't tell you what kind it was but I do know that I needed to hug it. And I later had to climb it. The bark was bulbous and the trunk was gigantic. For those that haven't experienced it, it is possible to fall in love with a tree as was pointed out numerous times over the course of the weekend, once by a Ted Talks speaker and another by my friend, whose camp lost its beautiful birch tree that has hovered over it for decades.
Once inside The Turrets, our minds turned to food, drink and finding acquaintances. Free stuff always tastes better and there is NOTHING better than a ramen bar and white wine with a view of the Atlantic Ocean dotted with islands and inlets and a side of great conversation. Being able to create your own ramen is possibly the most fun culinary process I've ever had. Combining noodles with broth, marinated tofu, egg and whatever the heck else you want is super fun. I had four cups and felt no shame.
After the opening party, it was decided we needed a moon-lit hike up Mt Champlain. Maggie and I raced the sun to the summit and made it in time to watch the last three minutes of true sunset. Once we turned around, the luminous luna was in full view so much so that we could see our shadows and didn't need the headlamp much for the hike back down to the car. The next day brought more fresh air and movement with a twenty-mile bike ride along the the carriage roads of Acadia National Park as well as an impromptu two-mile hike up Mt Presumpscot. It was a dusty good time and, since riding the carriage trails takes actual effort, they weren't crowded at all. We saw most of the park visitors driving around us the next day as M and I biked the 28 miles of Park Loop Road.
It's possible that the best part of the entire weekend was spent within five minutes of looking at sand on Sand Beach. It wasn't too far into the final day's bike ride that, just before a daunting hill, we turned left to visit said beach. I beelined it down the stairs and immediately picked up some sand and stared. Blue mussels, barnacles, surf clams, green sea urchins spines and skeleton pieces made up the bulk of this substrate. A few tiny charcoal-hued rocks were present here and there but it was unlike any sand I've ever seen. I wanted to bring some home to categorize all the individual pieces but what if everyone who visited took some sand...I'll just have to return once again.
So you're of two minds, either you've forgotten about the meaning behind the title of this post or you don't really care. Either way: "Vitamin N" stands for Nature, my friends. I learned some new information as well as confirmed some things I already knew this weekend but here are some:
-Nature should be a prerequisite for health and healthiness. However, drug companies would never go for it, as they wouldn't make any money off a child going for a walk in nature before settling down to learn instead of taking Ritalin (science now proves that both nature and Ritalin have the SAME effects...)
-Smelling a flower will cut the stress hormone in your blood (cortisol) by 50%.
-An eighteen year old student can identify a major environmental problem, experiment, fail, repeat endlessly until a solution is found and become a person who inspires me to work harder every day at my job to try and produce more people like her.
I was exposed to all this knowledge and so much more in between basking outdoors and literally and figuratively filling my body with Vitamin N. No matter how you get out in nature, whether it's sprawling in the shad of your friend's boat in a South Portland marina, sitting on the Eastern Promenade Beach to watch dogs and read or going for a windows-down-drive down the Kancamungus Highway in New Hampshire, we all internally desire open air and natural beauty that innately calm us and keep us going.