For twenty years, I lived on the coast of Maine. It was a beautiful home, one I designed and even helped to build. Then I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to a tiny island country in the South Pacific. I left Maine one snowy February day and less than a week later, stepped out of an Air New Zealand jet and climbed down the stairs to meet the sweltering heat of a late summer evening in Tonga. I was on the adventure of a lifetime and I was excited to be there, but even so, the heat was daunting. But I quickly acclimated and began to enjoy the tropical setting, the warm South Pacific waters, and the soft trade winds that made the island a paradise. Then, two and a half years later, I came home and went back to work. I was fortunate that my first few months were still summer in Maine, but before long the nights turned chilly and soon after the glorious explosion of fall foliage winter set in. Winter seemed to last forever. As beautiful as my home was, I kept pining for the warmth of Tonga. Spring was late that year and the following summer shorter than usual. The following winter, in a desperate attempt to leave the cold and snow behind for at least a few days, I took a vacation to St Augustine, Florida. A friend had been telling me for years, I’d love the historic little city, and she was right. I fell in love with the place. It took me two more years to plan and execute my early retirement and permanent move to St Augustine.
I love my little bungalow on a barrier island with the ocean almost at my feet and I enjoy walking on that beach year round and feeling the sun on my face and being warm. Moving was a happy decision, and I’ve not regretted it for a moment. But the lure of Maine is still in my blood. This summer, I decided to find a cottage to rent foa couple weeks to enjoy it at its most glorious (unless you count the fleeting fall foliage days.) My borrowed cottage had a deck overlooking Merriconeag Sound on the northern fringes of Casco Bay where I could eat my breakfast and watch the fishermen hauling their lobster pots, then later in the day see the graceful schooners sailing by and ending with a glorious sunset.
I feasted on lobster so fresh it had probably still been on the boat just hours before it ended up on my plate. I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in over twenty years and had a chance to visit with both of my former bosses and catch up on their news. As standoffish as most New Englanders are, the folk in the little neighborhood I was staying in were super friendly and I feel like I’ve made at least half a dozen new friends. Duff and I walked down to the little harbor by a world famous cribstone bridge every day so he could go swimming, and we checked out a few other little beaches tucked into the rocky shoreline. I had grand plans to spend the quiet retreat writing – specifically finishing my latest book, but as it turned out, I did a lot of reading instead, catching up on some of my vast to-be-read pile.
The fireworks were absolutely spectacular. On the 4th I sat on my deck and watched fireworks for more than two straight hours. We could see the display as far away as Portland and half a dozen other’s closer to us. And on the 5th we walked down to that little harbor, sat on a beached dock ramp and watched the most fantastic display I’ve ever seen anywhere. All-in-all, it was a magical two weeks that ended far too quickly – my summers in Maine were always too brief so I guess that was to be expected. BUT – I’ve already reserved this cottage for next year so I’ll be coming back for another taste of Maine.