wheeling rockland

father’s day. i remember when my kids were very little, all i asked for was not to have to be the parent-in-charge for the day – no making lunch, no settling disputes, i just wanted to lie in the hammock and watch it all unfold without my having to intervene.

this year, my daughter gave me some wild Hawaiian print shorts, and we did the traditional breakfast out with her and my wife (with no regard for carbs or calories or fat or nothin’.) then my dear wife took me for a little father’s day excursion to rockport, maine to visit the maine center for contemporary art, and then the farnsworth museum (perhaps best known for its collection of andrew wyeth paintings.) it was a beautiful day, and along the way my son benzo called from his day-off to chat and wish me a happy father’s day, a very nice treat.

the center for contemporary art is a wonderful space, if you’ll pardon the vernacular. very open and airy, obviously a rehabbed old barn or big house. we found a good parking place just across the street, and alison wheeled me in. once in, it was very wheelchair friendly – as i said, open and airy, no little galleries to maneuver through, even a very well designed bathroom, with grab bars, and a view to an architecturally  intriguing house next door. there was an elevator to get me up to the upper level, and the work they had displayed was varied and interesting, a few pieces so much so that we referred to the price list and gave a very brief consideration to one or two items. but i don’t think we have a future as art collectors.

then it was back to the car to find what sort of downtown village might be had. we parked right by the farnsworth, and spent at least an hour going through their rooms. everything from a collection of hooked rugs (more interesting than you might think), a room dedicated to louise nevelson ( i was pleased to discover that in addition to her found-scrap-wood constructions which i have always loved, she was also a painter), and a whole lot of andrew wyeth paintings – which never fail to astonish me with their luminosity  and with the way he handled what seems to be a particularly maine light. there was even a painting of  his dog (“nome?”) lying on a bed, which looked exactly like my dog, frodo. there was a lot more to see, and all of it was easily accessable. there were two very helpful museum attendants to help me operate a wheelchair lift, which made me feel somehow rather presidential, although the regular elevator stopped at every floor.

we then ventured out into the street, in search of something to eat. apparently, we were too late. it was only about 3, but all the little sandwich shops (and there weren’t many) were closed. still, tho, i was very impressed with the wheelablity of the village. the sidewalks were well-maintained, sidewalk cuts were on every cross walk, and the landscape was flat enough that i could have easily navigated the entire day on my own – a very rare treat, since portland is almost the exact opposite, and i would be very hesitant to venture downtown without someone to help get up and down hills and up and over curbs.

anyway, it was a very nice day. the coastal route 1 is a mostly lovely drive (a little further north is camden, mt. desert island and acadia national park) i did think, as we whizzed past so many older farmhouses set back on sweeping lawns or nestled in groves of pine, how difficult it must be to live in a place like that if one had on-going medical needs or mobility issues. as stuck-in-the-house as i might sometimes feel, i can imagine that without being able to rely of the kindness of others far more than i do, one would have an enormously difficult time getting out of the house.

but now it’s time to relax, rest my achy shoulders and wrists (wheeling, even in the best of situations, can be tiring work) and maybe even squeeze in a nap.


Author: Stephen

Stephen Harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in Maine.

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