First, some happy news! Thirteen more Emilie Loring books will be published as ebooks! There will also be a print-on-demand feature, if you prefer a paperback copy. I don’t have the list yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some of my favorites. Tell your friends and neighbors!
Now, on to today’s post…
I awoke this morning to five-degrees-below-zero and a frozen lake covered with snow. Holed up in this cozy cottage, awaiting more snow, I’m remembering my first research trip to Maine. It was summer–warm, bright summer!–and I kept a journal of my travels:
“Well, that was fun and a little crazy. I was nearing Ellsworth and my night’s lodging after a very full day, feeling that “scent-of-the-barn” surge of energy, when I saw the sign:
Blue Hill —>
“‘Why not? Just a little peek before the sun sets altogether,’ I thought. So, I turned.
“I don’t know if the sun always sets in two minutes in Maine, but it did tonight. Pitch blackness. Windy road. And then, the fog. Drifts, then clouds, and then thick blankets of it. Fog and deeper fog, dark and deeper dark, and the bright yellow ribbon unfolding on the roadway where the headlights could reach.
“And not a turnout to be seen. You either go to Blue Hill, or you don’t. I went all the way, got to the closest thing it seemed to have to a town center, and turned around.
“And then I began to smile! This was just like the beginning of Hilltops Clear, with Prudence Schuyler riding up the hill to her new home on a dark, foggy night just like this one. I could almost hear Len Calloway’s voice as he held up the flivver, “Has the girl come?” followed by old Si Puffer’s “Gorry me” before he evaded the question. And why couldn’t Len see Prue sitting in the back seat with her housekeeper next to her? Why, the curtains were drawn, of course.
“So, history repeats itself yet again on this trip!
“But much more led up to it.
“This morning, I packed, checked out of my hotel in Portland, and drove to Eastern Cemetery, where ancestral Bakers were buried. It was a good way to spend the time before the library opened.
“Then, on the way in to the library, I got sidetracked by the History Center’s current exhibit. It’s the collection of artifacts from 18 interesting but non-historical characters, their stories told and illustrated with photos and the items. I bet everyone who goes there rushes home to see what cool stuff they have in the basement that could serve as the starting point for something similar.
“I looked at my watch and pushed myself toward the library, but the Longfellow House garden gate stood open… what a nice, soothing place it was, a walled garden with a pleasant, slate patio at one end. I finally opened the library door at 11:00.
“Five hours later (!), I got up from the desk, returned stacks of materials, and exited again. I hit some dead ends, and it sometimes seemed like that’s all I hit, but I paid for 28 copies as I left, so clearly, that was not the case. The best were two old maps of Portland showing the old street names and the records of the First Church showing the baptismal dates of some Bakers I was trying to find.
“At that point, I was 3 hours from my next destination, so getting onto the highway and heading north would have been a good idea. I went south.
“I took a picnic dinner of a chicken sandwich, lemonade, and chocolate chip cookies, and I went to the Portland Head Light, probably the most famous of the US lighthouses. It was commissioned by George Washington in 1790. I lingered, sharing a bit of my dinner with a huge gull who sat on my table the entire time. The fog was rolling in there, too, and it seemed just right with the fog horn sounding and the waves hitting the rocks.
“Okay, time to drive north! I took one last meander through Portland, congratulating myself on how well I learned its streets on foot the last two days, and off I went. The drive was mostly a lot of green with a bit of bluish hill in the distance…”
Blue Hill. My destination.
I am going to Blue Hill again this summer. Like Wisconsin, it’s cold and snow-covered now, but I’m going to wrap up in an afghan, read an “Emilie,” and think of how nice it will be when I can walk on the shore, eat lobster, and look for sea glass again.