Effective July 1, I am retired (from full time work, at least), which allowed me to spend two wonderful weeks in Maine — my favorite of all places.
Clearly, Maine is beautiful, but it’s also full of surprises. Every time you turn a corner, the vista takes on a totally different feel. Turn this corner and you see the lobster boats on a charming bay, turn another corner and you’re seeing crashing surf, then go a bit farther and you’re suddenly on a rural road with no water visible — and how did that happen? Maine has one of the longest coastlines in America, and its craggy shoreline has countless ins and outs — bays within coves within bays, separated by peninsulas and points and inlets. Any walk or drive is likely to be one of discovery of a new favorite place.
I also love Maine for its “off the beaten path” feel. Tourists come here, sure, but I could count on one hand the times I’ve experienced tourist-claustrophia. And, once you get back to your carefully selected cottage (having spent days on vrbo.com finding just the right place), the world seems far away.
I love Maine’s apparent lack of pretension. Even the largest homes often have a certain ramshackle feel. In fact, you really can’t even see many coastal homes in Maine. They are down some dusty or gravelly winding path off the main rural road (usually with a name denoted by some handmade sign — another thing I love), and you can just imagine the places filled with Grandma’s castoffs and treasured family heirlooms.
I love the “unself-consciousness” of Maine. Very few women wear makeup, which is liberating. I love the authentically beautiful look of many Maine women — that patrician look, with naturally gray hair wrapped in a bun and the unadorned weathered face that tells the story of a life well-lived. When I come to Maine, I feel freed from cosmetics, hair curlers, and “beauty” accessories. (A friend calls this her “lake look.”) It takes me about 10 minutes to pack for a trip to Maine –and that’s a good thing.
I love Maine because it’s cool. I spent the two hottest weeks of the summer there without one day of air conditioning, and I was supremely comfortable every moment. In Ohio, I would have been cranky beyond words.
I recently read a novel set in Maine, and the author wrote that “Maine is meant for quiet contemplation.” How true. When I come to Maine I don’t feel compelled to visit a list of places and museums. I hang out, read, and enjoy the simplicity of spending time in a place with great views with none of the household or mental clutter of home and ‘to do’ lists. Maybe I’m a slug — but that’s the vacation I like best.
I’m not naive. I’m sure many will think I’m glamorizing a location that has a robust season of three months tops (some say two) and rugged winters that likely would send me fleeing. But for whatever reason, if you give me two weeks to spend anywhere in the United States, I’ll take Maine, hands down.
After all is said and done, we all are looking for a place that touches a chord within us, and when we find that place its imperfections become charming asides. Places speak to people, and Maine speaks to me.