Lea Wait, posting. And, for those of you looking out the window and wondering, I’ll admit I wrote this a couple of years ago, in the midst of The Flooding Times. But … considering this June’s weather, it seems appropriate to share it now.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in a vacation area on the coast of Maine. I’ve learned to keep clean sheets on the guest beds, hamburger in the freezer, and pots in which to make chowder, cook pasta, and boil lobsters at the ready. My husband knows every farmers’ market within twenty miles. I try not to have book deadlines between June and September.
But this summer has offered special challenges. It has rained. Almost every day. Any moment now (yes; it’s raining) we may break the 139 year record for “wettest recorded summer in Maine history.” I’ve had guests who stayed two weeks and never saw the sun.
Now, there are alternatives to outdoor Maine. One of my guest rooms is also my “mystery and suspense room” — two walls of floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with mysteries. I have VHS and DVD movies. Maine boasts art galleries, craft shops, museums, outlet stores, and innumerable places to buy souvenirs and lobster rolls.
I encourage folks “from away” to partake of all of Maine’s largesse, not just its (now sodden) beaches, (foggy) cliffs, and (muddy) trails.
Luckily, many of my guests are readers, and curling up with one of the many books in our home, or making a stop at a nearby independent book store for the latest of whatever the particular guest’s literary taste calls for is not a bad way to spend a vacation, especially if you add a glass of wine (or sparkling cider, for younger guests) and the prospect of a lobster salad or some of my husband’s garlic-steamed mussels.
By and large, all have coped well.
But one day two weeks ago – perhaps it was by magic – the sun appeared. A decision was made quickly. Whale watching! A telephone call. An hour later we were off to sea.
The afternoon was perfect. Just warm enough. Blue sky. And – whales? Two pods; some within yards of the boat. It was magical.
I turned from searching the horizon for yet another whale. A woman was sitting on the deck, leaning against the boat’s cabin, totally oblivious to those excitedly pointing out whales and seals and glorying in the perfect day.
She was reading.
I’m an author. I had to know what the book was. So I peeked. It was a fantasy, Graceling. I’d read it. And, yes, there is magic there.
I didn’t speak to the woman. But what I wanted to say was, “Sometimes reality is magical, too. The story will be there when this hour is over. The whales, and the scent of the sea, will not. Put down the book, and don’t forget to live your own life.”
But I didn’t. Because there have been times when I, too, have needed the comfort of a book more than I wanted views of wild waves and the horizon.
And I suspect that’s true of many readers. You, too?