My youth was fueled by a passion for faerie houses, tide pools, and other backyard miracles. While I was lucky enough to have an outdoor playroom throughout my childhood, summers in Maine held the sense of wonder and wanderlust, the yearning for which powered me through every school year. Each fantasy or adventure novel that coiled inside my head unfurled in my imagination, staged in a hazy meadow nestled in the pines or under the shivering green canopy of the birch trees.
When I came here in the summer, my family would boat out to an uninhabited island or take a long hike. In Acadia, my imagination came alive.
And I can’t stress how important this was for me in my formative years. Yes, the chance of a magical creature standing behind any given tree may have contributed to my tendency to gaze out the window during class or to sit quietly shading in the greens of a mermaid’s tail under my desk, but I believe strongly that maintaining a world of limitless possibilities within my own mind has kept me open-minded, calm, and passionate into my twenties.
My first science classes drew my dreamy mind away from the windows as I learned about natural selection, keystone species, and the pollution permeating so many of the places where my imagination dwelled. I became aware of the fragility of our environment and I was filled with a sense of purpose as a protector of our earth.
In English class I learned the magic of translating feeling through simple markings on paper, and it was then that I found writing as a tool to spread my passion to others. I wanted my grandchildren to build fairy houses, too.
Acadia walked with me through my childhood, and now, years later, with a full heart and a healthy mind I join my brother in walking along the many streams creasing its mossy floors, stooping every little while to record data. Volunteering to benefit the park came naturally as a way of giving back, less out of a sense of obligation and more out of love. And we both find it easy to channel our skills and interests into improving Acadia. He has found a way to spend days out on the water, fishing for science, and I have found my place in writing, teaching, and hiking through multiple summers in the parks.
Natalie Overton is studying Political Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she is a science and technology reporter for The Daily Nexus, the school newspaper. She spent this summer reading, hiking, and volunteering for the Friends of Acadia Journal; her article on water-quality research will appear in the Winter 2016 issue.