I was racing sundown east of Bangor, shooting for Bar Harbor by twilight, when static scratched on my radio. I fiddled with the knob. What was this? By the sound of it, I was entering a Stephen King paranormal zone.
The local station took on an aural shimmer. Way up here in Maine, clear as a childhood memory, I suddenly heard WNEW, New York. Count Basie was young again, quite a shock. I nearly felt my dad sitting beside me.
Just another example of time and distance playing tricks on us in Vacationland (some parts of Maine never seem to change, like in Brigadoon). The Penobscots call it m’teoulin, magic.
Except there’s science behind it this time. Both intracontinentally and intercontinentally, the New York radio signal skips off the bottom of the ionosphere, reflects off our curved atmosphere, and becomes a crystal-clear miracle on summer nights in Maine. Some radio geeks call it a skywave; others just dismiss it as nothing more than a global “skip.” Vocabulary.com defines a skywave as “a radio wave that is reflected back to earth by the ionosphere or a communications satellite; permits transmission around the curve of the earth’s surface…an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 0.5 cm to 30,000 meters.”
My imagination slipped in to make it a skip in time as well as radio-wave propagation, since I’m not alone in suspecting that all time–future, present, and past–may be happening simultaneously. As Einstein puts it, “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” It’s why I love stories: They’re as new as the very second you alter your own state traveling through them. This is our 30th anniversary Summerguide. But in so many ways, it skips time and carries the sweetness of being our first. Our staff cares enormously about these stories. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.
Every second I read, I’m forever tasting my first steamed clam, taking my first quiet paddle in a canoe, setting foot on my first Maine island [insert your own list of firsts], flicking on that radio as I break the sound barrier and zoom to Bar Harbor. (Next time I experience WNEW, I hope it won’t be a Yankees game.) As we read, we become homo legens, the reading human–a species apart–enjoying a “mediated indirect experience,” according to Bolívar Echeverría. We’re here, and we’re not here. We step through a magic portal to experience life as part of the very story we’re reading. Skip ahead to any story you like. It’s okay to let your mind race as you read Summerguide 2015.