Every year, near the Fourth of July, Emilie Loring left steamy Boston for the cool coastline of Maine. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I go there each year, too.
But the pandemic has changed things, and rather than get too sad about cancelling my cottage this year, I thought I’d treat us all to a virtual Maine experience. Open your windows to let in the breeze, and enjoy!
Our first stop is Stage Neck at York. The air is crisp, the ocean sparkles and foams. It feels like Maine. Emilie thought so, too. In her day, she stayed at the Marshall House. The Stage Neck Inn has replaced it, and I can vouch for their lobster rolls.
There’s fog when we get to the Portland Head lighthouse, but that helps set the mood. For hundreds of years, it has sent out its light to warn ships within its reach–not always successfully, as we see by this monument to a Christmas Eve shipwreck in 1886.
Then it’s on to the city of Portland. Exchange Street is always a favorite, partly for this clock, and partly for my favorite shop, Abacus. Follow it a bit further, and we can stop at Bull Feeney’s Irish Pub for, truly, the best seafood chowder and soda bread on the planet. That’s a hard call, though, because the Portland Lobster Company (best lobster rolls) is just a little further on, and we’ll go there anyway, to soak up the wharf-side atmosphere.
Beyond Portland, we can stop at any number of quaintly-Maine towns–Wiscasset, Boothbay, and Pemaquid, to name a few. Every sight is a post card, from colorful lobster buoys to funny little boat houses on stilts, to remnants of the 1600s at Fort William Henry.
Further on, we reach Camden. I could happily stay here for days, walking the harbor, visiting its wonderful public library, and popping into shops. But we have further to go, so we’ll just enjoy this view and get back onto the highway.
At Belfast, a steep, granite wall marks the entrance to Fort Knox, but we only catch a glimpse, because, to our right, is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. I have to keep my eye on the road, but you can look up at the massive cables that hold it, or way down, to the Penobscot River below.
We’re less than twelve miles from Blue Hill now, and we can begin to smell the spruce and pine that Emilie wrote about so often.
In the earliest days, she arrived at Blue Hill on the steamer. Later, she arrived as we do, by car. Highway 15 leads us to the village. We know we’re in the right place, because Jud Hartmann’s Gallery is straight ahead.
We take a quick look at Blue Hill’s iconic rock and cedar, but the sun is going down, and the fog is rolling in, and we call it a day.
The air was heady with vitality, rich with that “Open sesame!” quality which made one sure that one had but to knock imperatively at any obstinately closed door to swing it open. Here Comes the Sun!
Good morning! Imagine waking up here, high atop Emilie Loring’s quarry hill. You needn’t even raise your head from the pillow to see Blue Hill Bay, and the balcony is perfect for a breakfast of blueberry scones and hot coffee. There’s a lot to see today.
In the day’s bright sunshine, we see flowers everywhere–wild along the roadside and cultivated in gardens. No wonder Emilie loved to garden in Maine.
Is there an Emilie Loring book set in Maine that doesn’t talk about the spicy tang of kelp on the shore? Here it is, just as she described. It’s a bit of a nuisance to walk on, though–it’s slippery!
We look for interesting rocks and find bits of sea glass, too.
Later, we find a skipper who’s willing to take us out onto the water. We imagine Emilie seeing the same view that we do: boats moored at the yacht club, Blue Hill rising up over the village, the Falls Bridge perched above the reversing falls. (Alas, Jim Trafford is nowhere to be seen.)
Throughout the day, we stop to observe the tide at Peters Cove. We can walk on the mud flats when the tide is out and wade when it is in.
Blue Hill Bay’s water is clear and cold–only 58 degrees when last I checked–but in the sunny shallows, it’s like our Wisconsin lakes–chilly when you get in, not too bad after awhile. Don’t try this in the deeps, though–way too cold!
The late afternoon is made for a quiet place by the water and one of Emilie Loring’s Maine titles: Here Comes the Sun, For All Your Life, Give Me One Summer, Hilltops Clear, Uncharted Seas, To Love and to Honor, A Certain Crossroad, Where Beauty Dwells, I Hear Adventure Calling…
Dinner takes us to the Boatyard Grill or Marlintini’s restaurant. I’m not tired of seafood yet, are you?
Shadows lengthen, and we go back to our lodgings before the fog rolls back in. You might expect it to be quiet at night, but the forest has its rustlings, and in the distance is the faint ding of bell buoys and a muffled foghorn.
Aren’t you glad we came to Maine? I’ll let you choose what to see here next:
When this pandemic is over, let’s think about a real trip to Maine. We’ll visit all of Emilie Loring’s special places and see the sights we know from her books. Are you up for it?
Happy Landings, everyone!