Earlier this month I visited my childhood summer home in Deer Isle, Maine. It was a bittersweet visit, the first time I’d returned to the island since my parents’ passings. The building was once my mom’s bookstore, Mainely Books, with a 3-bedroom apartment upstairs. Renovations over the past 20 years created a second 1-bedroom apartment behind the shop space, which now houses arts, crafts and jewelry by a collective of artists. The place is for sale, by the way…
I’m not sure what the draw is for our family and the Maine coast. Except, well, Mom did get word from a genealogist who traced her family tree that we were descendants of folks from The Mayflower. So, maybe New England is in our blood.
Back in the 1970s, I’d spend my summer days playing along the shore or running wild through Library Park. Rainy days I would spend reading or drawing pictures, playing cards, making jigsaw puzzles or just looking out the window. Yep, this is our view. When the tide goes out, that big area of water turns mostly to a mud-flat. You can actually watch the tide roll in, that’s how fast the water moves in this harbor. On windy days, we get white-caps, but usually it’s very placid. I used to canoe all over this harbor.
My sister now lives on the island year-round. In today’s world of Internet connectivity, she runs a consulting business from a small office up there. I spent a week with her, and while there were a couple of days of cleaning out more personal possessions from the family home, there were also dinner parties, lattés at Sophie’s Cup, a spaghetti dinner at the high school, visits with old family friends, and an evening playing Wordle at the Pilgrim’s Inn—a huge colonial-era inn that’s been restored.
The island is home to fisherman and lobster pounds. Clamming was in full swing during my visit (no, I refrained from pulling on boots and trudging out at low tide, but just…). But there’s also a restored Opera House in Stonington (south end of the island) with an active schedule of movies and performances ranging from Shakespeare to poetry readings. Haystack Mountain School of Crafts is located in what we call Sunshine (the east side of the island, not to be confused with Sunset on the west side). Strike up a conversation with anyone on Deer Isle, and they’re as likely to be an artist as a fisherman. Some talented individuals do both.
I’d never visited Maine this late in the season. I’ve been there for lupine blooming in late spring, and it’s one of my favorite places to celebrate the 4th of July with their huge community parade (everyone makes their own floats–it’s a blast!) and dance and fireworks. The Blue Hill Fair wraps up the summer for most people in early September. Draft horse pulls, dog trials, blueberry pies, midway rides—it all takes me back. But this trip was cool and the leaves had started their change. I did get out and run a couple mornings, surrounded by the scent of salt spray and pine.
I’m looking forward to returning next year, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a bit of Maine with one lucky, randomly-drawn, commenter. I’m giving away away a 5″ x 5″ sachet pillow filled with balsam. Winner may choose from the two fabrics shown. Seriously, close your eyes, hold this pillow to your nose, and you’ll swear you’re in a Maine forest. Perfect for the upcoming holidays! Plus I’ll throw in a Maine magnet–purchased when I got stranded in Bangor overnight due to bad weather (in NYC, not in Maine!).
Did your family have a summer vacation spot? Ever visited Penobscot Bay in Maine? Is New England in your blood? Still remember all the words to Barry Manilow’s Weekend in New England?