A couple months ago, I read a beautifully written travel piece in The New York Times magazine. It’s about writer Michael Paterniti’s regular pilgrimages to a small, nondescript village in Spain, initially in search of a cheese, later in search of himself. I urge you to read the entire story. In one of my favorite paragraphs, he writes:
“But something happened to me. Even now, I’m not exactly sure what. I have a friend who once told me about the first time he ever took a ferry to an island off the coast of North Carolina, and how he knew, right there on the ferry — with the salt spray and the light off the ocean — that he’d come back to this same spot every year. He’d come to relive that feeling of leaving his old self behind. That annual renewal, the reacquaintance with the person he felt himself to be on that island, was something he wanted to organize his life around. Similarly, Guzmán instantly and improbably became my place.”
It made me think of Maine, and how we missed our annual summer trip this year. It made me think about how Maine, where I’ve been spending summers since I was a kid, is my place, and its absence felt like a tightening in my chest, like I needed the crisp salty air, the dense evergreens, the craggy rock beaches, the indescribable Maine-ness that makes me feel more, well, like me. We decided to make it happen in the fall. Yes, the water was freezing. But when isn’t it in Maine? Less ice cream, more clam chowder. Less laying in the sun, more snuggling under blankets. There was so much beauty in the silence of the off-season; it was exactly what our newly expanded family needed. We did a lot of hiking through the woods, exploring under rocks, collecting shells, building sandcastles and early morning fires, and taking long, meandering, two-hour walks along the beach. Most days, we saw few people but counted foxes, deer, turkey, porcupine, and crabs among encounters with living creatures. Below, some photos from our quiet week. The red and yellows popping out amid a backdrop of towering evergreen trees and blue sky still makes my heart leap.