Well, Maine has officially become a family tradition. For years and years we spent a week every summer in Michigan. Somehow Maine has become the new East Coast version of Michigan. This is the fourth year that we’ve rented a home on the coast of Maine and spent the week with as many family members that can make it. Sadly, this year was our smallest group yet, but it was still a lovely week and the perfect way to enjoy the last few days of summer. For the third time we rented a home in the coastal town of Stonington, ME. How, you ask, did we end up in this remote, tiny town? Well, back in the day Uncle Jerry spent a few years there as the town doctor and later Uncle Tom and Aunt Susan taught in Deer Isle. Therefore, we don’t feel like total tourists because we’ve met many shopkeepers, waitresses and people at church who’ve been treated by Jerry or taught by Tom. When you can make these kind of connections you practically feel like a local. Heck if I hadn’t had a big ol’ camera around my neck, people probably would’ve thought Dad was just another lobsterman and Mom a hardy fisherman’s wife. Before arriving in Maine, Mom and Dad spent a few days in Quebec visiting relatives’ graves and eating cheese. They then drove down to Bangor where they joined Mary Beth who had driven up from Boston in her trusty blue truck. All three of them squeezed in front with the bags and dog in the truck bed. After a bumpy but jolly ride they arrived in Stonington on Sunday night.
(Ugh ok, fine. Maybe this isn’t Mary Beth’s car and maybe we don’t have a dog, but let’s not let little details get in the way of a good story.) I worked Sunday night then took a tiny plane to Bangor on Monday morning. Thankfully, Mary Beth has worked the night shift before, so when she picked me up she knew just what I needed: A little makeshift bed in the back: We stayed in this house last year and we found it exactly as we left it. Quite literally. Our two-foot stack of 2014 magazines were still on the coffee table and Dad’s L.L. Bean slippers, which he had forgotten last year, were lined up neatly in the closet. Seeing as the homeowners seem unfazed by our belongings, we joked that we’re going to put our family photos in their frames (which still have stock photos in them anyways) and add a few decorations: Actually, the story behind this little family is that dad picked out the weaver on a trip to Guatemala. Then for Christmas I gave him these little “worry dolls” so he could whisper his worries into their ears and tuck them under his pillow at night. (It’s unconfirmed if he ever actually unloaded his worries onto them.) Sadly, I kept forgetting my weaver in Chicago, but she finally joined me in Maine … and bore a few children during her time away from me. After a quick shower, I was ready to explore town. The most exciting update is that a cute new coffee shop opened up on Main St. The harbor was exactly how it looked last year. I even spotted my favorite pink canoe. We are particularly fond of Stonington because it’s an authentic Maine fishing village. We spent many hours over the week watching the lobstermen coming into the harbor to unload their day’s catch. Though, seeing as they leave for the day at 4 a.m. we never saw them leave the port. ^^^Sean and Dad’s retirement plan once Sean gets tired of being an ER doc and Dad gets tired of reading books. They’re going to be this duo, spending their days on the sea in their matching black wellies. “Downtown” Stonington is about two blocks long, but we took our time meandering into shops and enjoying the views. We even made friends with a local … A beautiful Maine Coon! Which I just learned is the official state cat of Maine. Now I must learn the official cats of the other 49 states. A bit more fun than learning the state capitals if you ask me. Mary Beth doesn’t even like cats, but nobody can resist this little ginger. She actually belongs to the owner of this shop, but she’s a free spirit and roams all over Stonington …… offering any weary traveler a free spot to rest their hand. Besides a few shops, a post office, three restaurants and a hardware store, this town boasts an adorable library with a large section of Maine books. Back at home, we feasted on a classic spaghetti dinner. Among Mary Beth’s many talents is her ability to pick out excellent groceries. She had the house stocked with delicious granolas, maple syrup from Vermont, cheeses, and produce. Most importantly, she made it her mission that we had birthday cake every day. A real modern day Mickey, providing our morning cake. Mom’s actual birthday happened in Maine, so every day we celebrated with one of those delicious grocery-store birthday cakes. In the morning we woke to this view from the living room. Just like last year, we debated whether or not it would be unethical to cut down the tree that partially obstructs this amazing view. We really do love trees but think this little guy would be happier in another location. (And other people writing in the home’s guestbook agree with us). We spotted this ship, which sails tourists around the coast of Maine. Mom and Dad are already dreaming about spending a week on it. As always, Dad came prepared with all his “Maine” gear. It made his “just a local lobsterman” image a little less believable, but this guy really loves his Maine t-shirts. The first morning we tried out a new local hiking trail which takes you through the old granite quarries of Stonington (now you know how the town got its name). At the first mention of a hike, Dad, ever fearful of hypogylcemia, gathered his snacks. Thankfully, he was well nourished for the entire 2.5 miles of the hike. We came upon this tiny Christmas tree at the top. I decided it will be Mom and Dad’s official photo for their Christmas letter. We have two options so please vote for your favorite in the comments section. In the first one, I think the tree really shines. And in the second, Mom and Dad steal the tree’s thunder. Now you get to decide which one you want to see this December: After our hike, Mary Beth headed to Portland so she could pick up Anna in the morning. And we walked about a mile out of town to Sandy Beach for a picnic lunch. Mom, always one to make friends, went to wash her hands in the sea and struck up a conversation with a fellow wader. Dad and I patiently waited for her return. We have picnicked in graveyards and Brooklyn parks, but this setting has to be my favorite. With our bellies full, we settled among the rocks to read and rest. A month earlier we decided to have a book club while in Maine. Here Dad reads our pick: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. The next morning, we walked past more scenic homes to the Lily pond …and anxiously awaited the arrival of Mary Beth and Anna! Coming up soon!