Living in Maine vs Vacationing

Lea Wait, here. And although many people (from away) now consider me a Maine writer, I am very conscious of the fact that a) I was born in Boston. And b) I’ve only lived in Maine full-time since 1998.

Of course, I vacationed here (“vacationed” being defined as anywhere from ten days to six DSCN0620weeks while I was in school and/or working) for (gulp) over fifty years before that. In only one year did I fail to get to Maine: the first year after I’d graduated from college and had a “real” job. The kind of corporate job where you didn’t get any days off for the first twelve months. My mother sent me a framed sprig of sea lavender with a note “not to forget.” That framed sprig was on my office desk every one of the thirty years I worked in New York and New Jersey. I didn’t forget. And wished I was in Maine.

Now, miraculously, I’m here. Dream come true. I work for myself — although frequent emails from one of the four companies that have published my books remind me that I still have deadlines. But I’m no longer writing corporate communications of varying sorts, or developing strategies for a corporation I want to leave, or representing a company I respected … but that stole weekends and evenings as well as the basic ten hours a day I worked there.

I live in Maine.

June Lupine

June Lupine

The first week I lived here I was thrilled to exchange my New Jersey drivers’ license for one from Maine. I registered to vote at my new address. And I put Maine license plates on my car. (I’m still smile when I see those license plates.)

Today, just two weeks short of sixteen years later, I’m still excited to be here. I still look out the windows of my home and silently rejoice. I breathe in the salt air. And then I sit down at my desk and get to work.

When I moved to Maine I assumed my sisters and children and all their families would visit often. That hasn’t happened. Jobs and marriages and family obligations have taken them further away from Maine. Yes, sometimes they visit. But not often.

But during these years I’ve married, something I never dreamed of when I moved here, and I’ve made friends, in person and on line. I’m not lonely. But, looking at SEPTEMBER on the calendar today has reminded me how different the Maine I vacationed in was from the Maine I live in now.DSC01657

When I vacationed here, I ate seafood every day, and lobsters often. Now I eat lobsters when we have guests, and seafood occasionally. My husband prefers meat, and I don’t argue. After all, I used to be the cook. Now he is.

When I vacationed here I went to the beach at least once a summer, went on “tour boats” out of places like Boothbay Harbor, and sat on the rocks at Pemaquid. This year I haven’t seen a beach or a been out on a boat of any kind, although (when I

Stone wall in Early Autumn

Stone wall in Early Autumn

had guests) I did get to Pemaquid once.

I used to spend days in antique shops and flea markets and at auctions and antique shows. Since I now sell antique prints only out of my home, by appointment, and still have a large inventory, the only antique show I went to this summer was a show I exhibited in. Now I spend my time in libraries and bookstores and art galleries, since my husband is an artist.

When I vacationed here, I got to know part of mid-coast Maine. Now that I live here as an author I’ve visited schools and libraries from the southern part of York County to the northern reaches of Aroostook County. I have a much wider picture of the state than I did before.

Before I lived here full-time I’d only made brief visits to Maine in months other than July and August. Now I look forward to seeing autumn colors and ice on the rivers and reflections of snow-covered land in blue water. I know a little bit about wood stoves. (My husband has become an expert.) I have bags of “snakes” to put along window ledges to keep out drafts. My wardrobe leans heavily toward flannel shirts, sweat pants, and wool sweaters. I put Christmas wreaths on all our doors and don’t feel guilty about leaving them up until February. (Some people have wreaths on all their doors and windows, and leave them up until April.) I open champagne when the first crocuses appear. DSC00880

I loved vacationing in Maine. But there is so much more to Maine than Vacationland. Living here? ‘year ’round? It’s the best.

It took me a few years to live my dream. But, every day, I thank the fates that brought me here — to vacation all those years, and, finally, to live where my heart has always been.

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6 Responses to Living in Maine vs Vacationing

  1. Alice Duncan says:

    Fun blog, Lea. I love Maine – from a distance. I actually spent my first four years there, but about the only thing I remember is walking into the woods (we lived next to the Harry Huntress Road, which takes you through a patch of trees and spits you out on the other side). When I was tiny, it was like walking into the deep, dark forest from fairy tales and stuff. Oh, and I remember my mom telling me never to eat yellow snow 🙂

  2. I loved this post because my daughter, born and raised in Texas, lives and works in Boston and has vacationed in Maine. We hope our family can find a lovely house with 4 bedrooms and spend a month in Maine one summer!

  3. Kait Carson says:

    Glorious post. And so true.

  4. Lea Wait says:

    Love everyone’s comments! Maine is a special place …all year round. But summer visitors (or leaf peepers in the fall) only see a fraction of its wonders. I invite anyone who hasn’t at least visited Maine to come and take a look. Any time of year. And for those of us already here … ain’t it grand?.

  5. Lil Gluckstern says:

    I loved this post because you set the scenes s. I could just taste the lobster. I thick Maine is good for people when they are open to what is there. I’ve only been to Maie a couple times. But I still remember the landscape.

  6. Congratulations on living your dream, Lea. I’m envious, but have to be happy with the yearly visits I make to glorious Maine. My WIP is set in a community not unlike Boothbay Harbor, where we visited last year. Oh, my gosh the view from our balcony was incredible! We’d have returned this year, but they were already booked up!
    I love how you compared and contrasted the differences in living there and visiting. While getting a snack at a small cafe, I found a group of older women playing something. I walked over and asked them what it was. Majong! Well, I hadn’t seen it it over 40 years. Some of them were real Mainers, but others like you, got here as soon as they could. I asked them what they did. They were quick to tell me of all the activities they were involved in: the lectures at the library on a different subject each week, knitting groups, volunteer groups and of course their weekly Majong game.
    I’ve never visited Maine in winter, though years ago, I lived through a Massachusetts winter. I didn’t have the right clothes, which I think must be a necessity.
    I hoping to find a place that I could spend a month there in the fall or summer, writing. My husband could visit on either end, but I’d be on my own with the computer. Ahh! I’ll share. Such a wonderful post.

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