Bar Harbor, Maine. The state’s scenic roadway markers proclaim this to be the Bold Coast: this land of stark contrasts where hard-headed windblown boulders stand proud. A mighty ridged wilderness barren of trees beside an ever-changing sea: this is Mount Desert. The ashen skulls of her granite sentries look out over an angry ocean – Cadillac, Dorr, Bubble, Sargent, and Gorham.
This rock-strewn island with its stony visage is truly a birder’s paradise. We look for peregrine falcons tucked into the faces of the vertical cliffs. I crane my neck to see an immature bald eagle circling the bay at low tide. Osprey families build driftwood homes for their young in dead tree snags, channel markers, and other unlikely perches. In the understory of fir trees at the base of the mountains, small collections of songbirds flit nervously. Warblers, robins, and juncos: they are right to feel uneasy sharing their island sanctuary with so many hungry raptors.
Today I take my own small fledge into Bar Harbor for his noontime feeding. Here among the outcropping of man-made Victorian cliff faces and shaded outdoor patios, he gobbles down a fresh Panini sandwich in an internet café. While we are eating I comment on his tangled nest of windblown hair. “Enough,” he says. He is ready to take flight and cut it all off.
Asserting his independence, he tells me he has been thinking about it for a while and has decided he would like to be bald for a change. He wants to find a barbershop. His dad and I exchange glances, and decide to seize the moment. Its been more than two years of plaintive cries on our part, reminding him to comb and care for his unkempt shoulder length hair. Bald? Why not, we think. Sure it’s drastic, but I rationalize that it will grow out soon enough. To goad him, I offer to pay for him to pierce his ears at the same time. He is on the point of accepting before he asks if it will hurt very much. I decide its time to put the brakes on this speeding locomotive of personal reinvention and so I explain in graphic detail how painful the needle can be. We do however forge ahead with plans to search out the nearest sheering shack.
We find Razor Ray’s on Main Street opposite the China Joy takeout restaurant. No waiting. In moments our ‘tween bird is in the chair, a sheet draped about his neck, the hum of an electric razor in the air. Before anyone has the presence of mind to reconsider this brash act, the deed is done. Our sniping little shore bird is now an almost bald eagle. Whoosh. My remorse is nearly instantaneous, but my son soars on the wings of his newfound independence. I can practically see the adrenaline pumping just beneath the surface of his freshly shaved noggin. Well, we have certainly decided in haste. But the Vacationland state is not a bad place for repenting at leisure. We wander down the boulevard a few paces behind our youthful buccaneer as he swaggers up ahead to the souvenir stores in search of pirate treasure. Surely he will have sprung a fresh crop of downy feathers in time for the start of junior high come August. Right, matey?