Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Maine, A Love Story

It’s 3:25pm on a Saturday afternoon. I am in Maine, staring out my large dining room window onto the brown marsh, flecked with patches of snow. I can tell that the tide is out because the ravines that criss-cross the marsh are in shadow; in the winter at high tide, they will brim with water, forming a shallow lake. In the distance, a long row of motley houses hides the ocean, and nearby, a tall tree —its many fingered branches poking at the sky-- breaks up the expansive view. By contrast, in summer, shrubbery and leaves block this restful scene.

What is most remarkable is while predictable in some ways, this panorama varies from hour to hour and from day to day. On our last visit, my husband, awake earlier than usual, came into the bedroom to announce the glorious sunrise he was witnessing. The sky appeared to be on fire. At other times it is the land that calls attention to itself, such as when chunks of ice heave up at odd angles, creating an other worldly surface. In the late afternoon, the buildings along the water’s edge glow pink and orange.

I first saw this place on a sunny January day nine years ago, and I fell in love. This was how I wanted to spend my small inheritance from my mother, who had passed away the previous year. She was a city girl, but I think she would have approved. Covering the walls of our condo are her paintings of rocky coastlines—one a monolith adrift in a turbulent sea, the others inspired by vacations to Portugal and Malta. She was a trained artist but did some of her best work after age 60. Both she and the view serve as my co-muses as I sit at the table in front of my laptop.

It’s not just our condo that I love. It’s the feeling of peace I have when I am here. Mainers don’t see the southern coast of their state as the “real” Maine. But less than an hour and a half from Boston, it still feels like it’s light years from Boston. For a resort area, the south coast isn’t that commercial. Along route 1 in Wells, the one mall (with mainly useful stores) is set back from the road. The shops that dot the highway cater to the unusual and include one that sells weather vanes and another, flags of all kinds. Out of season, there is a small town vibe. The Maine Diner beckons with its friendly service. The shoreline with its wide, flat beach at low tide calls out for walks.

We don’t get here nearly enough, but it has become my personal writer’s retreat. What better inspiration than nature to get the creative juices flowing? And what better way to procrastinate than to look through the binoculars and find some new little secret somewhere on the expanse of the marsh?

Happy Valentine's Day!

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