At the gallery, I find I’m often asked one of two questions: “Where should I eat?” and “Where do i see the oreo-cookie cows?” I’m so used to it, in fact, that i felt initially flummoxed when a middle-aged couple from Minnesota asked, “What exactly do people do here?” They wanted to know why people come to Camden; seeing as our gallery overlooks the stunning harbor, with the graceful mountains sweeping in from the west, I felt the answer was obvious: “People enjoy the beauty of Camden!” But how? How would they enjoy the beauty of our area? The word “enjoy” is subjective, deeply personal–just like “relaxing,” or “fun.” We have our own definitions.
I love talking to people. I almost always ask folks where they’re from, and I usually like to know the circumstances around their visit to Maine and specifically Camden. I also like to know how their visit is going. And like a proud parent who desires for their child to be seen in the most positive light, I prefer to ask that question on our more resplendent days. Those days I feel confident and satisfied before they even answer, perhaps even a touch smug: Camden is, after all, about as charming and picturesque as a coastal New England town can be. I’m a bit more relaxed when conversing with seasoned visitors–they don’t seem to be as concerned about what the weather may or may not be doing. Usually they’ve found their personal reasons to come back to Maine each year, regardless of what mother nature has in store for us.
As for the couple from Minnesota: I followed up their question with a few of my own in order to zero in on how they define a good vacation and what they might like to do. Being a native, I happen to know that our area has no shortage of activities to suit just about anyone’s personal definitions (…unless one is looking for a taste of big city, I suppose…). After learning that they’d been up hiking in Acadia National Park, I knew to direct them to our most spectacular nearby hikes and some casual dining spots with delicious views. I hope they had a good few days here!