I arrived in the evening, with enough pink light left in the sky to clamber quickly down to the beach below my cottage. In the distance, Mount Desert’s “Sleeping Giant” slumbered, and at my feet… yes! There was the familiar, happy face in the rock.
I don’t know what I expected. It’s rock. Of course it’s here. But these past years have brought so much change that permanence seems like a little miracle.
I searched the pebbled shore and quickly found a piece of cobalt-blue sea glass. Then a few more: brown, white, green. Arrival is a blend of excitement and peace, and the beach rocks and glass are my welcoming party.
1922 – 2022
When I came here last year, I was still looking for a publisher, still tweaking the final, final draft of Happy Landings: Emilie Loring’s Life, Writing, and Wisdom. This year–same place, same cottage–I await the published book and reflect that, exactly one hundred years ago, Emilie Loring summered in Blue Hill and awaited the publication of her first novel, The Trail of Conflict (1922). I like that.
I took the East Blue Hill Road to get here, passing familiar sights that awakened memories of earlier times: the trout stream from Where Beauty Dwells, Seven Chimneys and Stone House from Uncharted Seas, and the cottage with rabbit shutters (Gay Courage).
In Emilie Loring’s day, these landmarks were easier to see. Trees that hadn’t been taken for ship building had been cut back for the granite quarries. From the road and from the cottages that lined it, Blue Hill Bay was in full view.
As I drive, I imagine Emilie and her summer friends meeting for tea, picnics, costume parties, and home entertainments. They walk to each other’s homes, or, when the occasion calls for it, they ride in a horse-drawn wagon–later, an open roadster. The women share their gardens and their recipes, cementing friendships, one cup of tea at a time, for decades.
The society of friends along the East Blue Hill Road was a local fixture through the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. Emilie remained through the 1940s, but by then, many of her summer friends had died, and the post-War contingent who moved in afterward knew little of them. Local histories tell about Parker Point on the opposite side of the bay, while the East Blue Hill Road goes largely unremarked.
I understand now why Emilie Loring wrote her family and friends into her books. On the page, they laugh, motor to town, pluck crisp bacon from the fire, and slink down the stairs in shimmering gowns. They live again.
This is the same reason that I’ve written their lives so thoroughly into my biography of her, “collaborating” with Emilie to tell both what happened (my text) and how it felt (Emilie’s).
Trees line the East Blue Hill Road so closely today that it’s hard to imagine the bay beyond. There are more cottages than in Emilie’s time, but they are hidden by forest, much as her times are hidden in memory.
With luck and a bit of work, Emilie and her summer friends along the East Blue Hill Road will soon claim their place in the recorded history of Blue Hill, Maine–known, appreciated, and remembered. They are representatives of a time that has passed, but as we who read Emilie Loring’s books know so well, there is much in every age that is timeless.
Like Emilie Loring, I love my annual vacation in Blue Hill, made more special by summer friends, old and new. I will leave you with some images of the day:
7 thoughts on “Friends Along the East Blue Hill Road”
Reading your musings brought back fond memories of Blue Hill and why it was so wonderful to spend vacations there during the summer at Tony and Nancy Butlers home where we used to stay. The garden parties were exactly as you describe them and those were indeed the good Olde days. I am waiting for the publication of your book to reminisce on such good times. Love and thanks, Raquel Ramsey
Thanks for sharing the photos and experiences–and the book excerpt. I may never get to Maine, so I appreciate all that you share with us!
I have never seen sea glass. The colors are so rich and the glass looks unmarred by spots, etc.–if that makes sense.
So wonderful. Selden took me to Blue Hill when we were dating. I have had a special love to Maine and it does so much remind me of Finland, same vegetation and trees Even the ocean is wilder than our gulf of Finland I lived by.
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That must have been wonderful, to see Blue Hill and Stone House back then! As you know, I love Maine, too.
Aloha! How delightful! There is so much there for me to enjoy. First of all, it’s a teaser for your book. Bravo! The sleeping giant reminds me of a similar mountain on the Ute reservation seen from Cortez , Colorado, called “The Sleeping Ute”. The Ute tribe expects it to wake someday. We lived there for many years and it was visible every day as the sun set behind it in the west. I’ve also hunted for sea glass on Lanikai beach in my Hawaii. The dark blue was a prize and rare. Blue Hill looks like a lovely place. The sky is so blue with puffy clouds and brilliant green grass. An artists delight. The waters so calm and soothing. Such variety to choose from to paint with words is truly recorded by Emilie as she describes it in such depth that I could paint a picture from her words. (If I had the time to play with it). I have to finish some working projects first. While waiting for ok to be published, I enjoy every morsel you share with us. Thank you for these lovely passages. Enjoy your summer place, aloha pam
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I’m summering in NH and need to reread Emilie’s books set in New England. Looking forward to your book!
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Thanks, Virginia. Emilie’s family summered at Amherst, NH when she was a girl, and her brother had a summer home in the state, also.