Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Say what you will about it, Camden is quite a beautiful town. The river comes tumbling into the harbor down shelves of rock. Mount Battie towers above, looking like it's just a few yards away. The houses are New England-white and very well kept (there must be a law). There are three(!) bookstores. For the tourist, it's close to heaven, with the shops and ducks and galleries and boats, all varying shades of cute; with the Camden Hills so close for camping and hiking; with the tasteful restaurants; with the schooners for hire and the yachts for gawking and the sailing club for kids and "Lobster Adventure, 1-hour trip, see seals and eagles!"
For the resident it could be heaven, I guess, if the hereafter excludes Main Street in July and August when it gets pretty thick. You can't walk at any speed on the sidewalks; traffic backs up a mile in both directions; the glare of pastel is blinding. But just one block away from the seething madness is peace and quiet. It's a very charming and seductive place. But maybe too quiet: when we walked around town the other day, away from Route 1, we saw an old man walking his dog and a young guy going to work at the Camden Harbor Inn. That's it for pedestrians in the space of 30 minutes. One man was working in his yard, no one was sitting on porches. I got the feeling that one doesn't mix with the crowd if one is resident in Camden. One serves tea in secluded back yards, one shops after five, one spends one's morning managing investments. And if children are part of one's life, one sends them down to the sailing club for training as the future ruling class.