As I'm writing at 2:50pm, the sun is so low over the ocean it has dissolved into a foil ribbon of glimmer straight into our living room. So bright and present, the glare so painful and we cannot look back or forward but close our eyes and feel where we are. It's a strange thing for me not to be planning trips this time of year, but sitting in the warm sun is its own gift still, and in many ways for us, this year was about practicing presence, being where we are and not living ahead or backwards but where we are.
It's been so long since I've written that I wanted to summarize into a cleanly wrapped present, and yet this year again was lumpy and shape shifting, and to see even who we were within it is impossible. So let me tell you about a few highs of the year, and a few lows. And a few dreams, for where we now are. (This post is a mix of quick iPhone pics and Walker's more careful photos. It's easy to spot the difference :))
The year started with a robust gale, the likes of which we hadn't really been near enough to feel since moving to this state. We were staying in southern Maine at the Cliff House on Christmas Day 2020, and waves splashed twenty feet high to wash our balcony with biting salt foam, rattling our thick door so much I had to stuff towels in it to sleep.
The next few days, we sat without coats on the same chairs, and walked the long, flat beach of Ogunquit.
And we made the most ridiculous bathing suit purchases of the year from local outlets, the only two in our size in southern Maine we are sure, to watch the stars over the finally-clear sky from the outdoor hot tub. Well worth it.
For New Year's 2021, we spent an overnight on Vinalhaven, a rugged island accessible only by ferry, where we wore hats in bed as the waves lashed the walls again, reminding us that we don't need to be so adventurous, but it makes for a good story, where walking the mossy island after a tremendous storm can still feel like a storybook tale.
January brought the gift of an iced pond behind our rental in Lincolnville, Maine, and before the snow dumped, we skated hundreds of meters down the lake with fresh skates, sometimes as the sun set near 3pm. The feeling was so near pure joy it is hard to describe the freedom of skating without walls.
We had a luxurious weekend away at the White Barn Inn in southern Maine in mid January, with a deep soaking tub and fireplace, and the coziest dining room in all of Maine: a barn from the 1850s that is my idea of a truly perfect setting.
We also got our first passes to the local Camden Snow Bowl, a small hill just 10 minutes down the road, where I took lessons and Walker skiied every weekend, reading on the chairlift and enjoying the simplicity of walking from the car to the lift in 30 seconds. One weekend trip in February we drove through the woods and vales to Maine's most famous mountain, Sugarloaf, which I braved and Walker loved. Apres ski, we feasted at Alice and Lulu's sweet wee restaurant for a taste of Europe after the slopes: warm cheese and crepes. We drove home in a glittery storm.
Each morning before work, we walked Fernald's Neck Preserve, a truly special spot of woods jutting into the middle of Lake Megunticook near our rental.
Our first rental home on the lake
And then, in early March, we moved to a different and blissful rental home at the pinnacle of the Rockport harbor and shifted our walk to the 3 mile loop from our front door through the village and out along the Beauchamp peninsula. We have now walked it hundreds of miles, and it is just as beautiful each time.
In April, we took a quick trip to New Jersey to meet up with a mover to move our belongings from storage in NJ to storage in Maine, confident we'd be staying around a bit longer, and we had the joy of seeing my parents briefly.
Early May we drove to the northernmost tip of Maine to the town of Lubec, known for the Quoddy Head lighthouse, where we waved at Canada.
We hiked the sharp and rugged coast, what felt like the pure essence of Maine in the pine scent and smashing waves and granite cliffs. The Bold Coast bewitched us, and we'd be back a few months later for even more epic hiking.
We also took an oyster shucking lesson at Glidden Point Oyster Farm, and watched lilacs balloon around town, filling it with their delicate and pungent light purple.
We left our Maine rental in June as the owners use it in the summer, and drove the 24+ hours to the middle of the country to Walker's parents' stunning lake home, where we spent the next 2.5 months watching the light change over the lake, listening again for loons, and scooting our toes away from nippy fish. A few family and friend weddings highlighted June, beautiful barn weddings that felt like normalcy a bit.
My brother's family visited in July, and we had a true blast in and on the lake, and crafting, cooking, and roller-coastering.
We squeezed in some incredible meals at outdoor restaurants in the evenings, before driving back across the country and promising to fly next time.
Walker switched jobs mid August, and planned a few weeks off between, so we squeezed in three trips to northern Maine.
First up was to Lubec again, and despite a bit of a salty rental, the views stunned again and again, the water right off our balcony the incredible Bay of Fundy.
We took a whale watch into Canadian waters and felt sneaky to be out of the country, our only comrades seals and eagles.
Our second trip was up to Deer Isle, and on the way, stops in quaint towns for seafaring museums and shops.
We stayed at what felt like summer camp for adults, and, similar to camp, were disappointed by rain, but enjoyed hearty and luxe meals at Aragosta and Acadia House Provisions.
Between the rains, we managed a boat trip out to Isle au Haut, a remote island I've longed to see since a child, where we enjoyed pristinity, a word I have just made up for how clear and clean it felt, how away.
And then in September, we stayed on Mt. Desert Island at the new Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, which was beautifully curated and a lovely place to stay. We had rain again but snuck up on some hikes we enjoy still.
We've mostly stayed put since October here in Rockport, but had our first visitors, Walker's parents, for some autumn leaves, and again at Thanksgiving for a traditional meal made with mainly Maine things, and some sparkly wet oysters to boot. Our NYC friends also joined, a special treat.
The remainder of the year has been a true delight of mountains each weekend, watching the colors shift away from boldness into mellower maroons and browns on the hills. Each Saturday, our week's highlight is dinner at Nina June, our local Italian restaurant where we eat like royalty and this is the deck's view:
And in between, we ate a lot of donuts, we walked daily to the post office up the hill on our lunch breaks to check our PO box, we Marco Poloed and FaceTimed and Zoomed until we were tired of our faces. We said every single day how lucky we were to be together; we know it very well.
We spent a ridiculous amount of time cutting up delivery boxes and we walked our sweet Beauchamp loop over and over. We became Maine residents and have flimsy licenses to show for it. We ate the rich foods of this gorgeous land from scapes to sausages to honeynut squash to scallops and everything in between. We were welcomed by a village that feels like home. I had migraines and we had wildfire smoke this summer and hard days, too, and this was 2021.
As for dreams, they don't seem to be so forceful anymore, because life right now feels right. More writing, more community, more time with trees. Happy 2022!