The Place I Found Peace … The Coast of Maine

Lea Wait here, thinking about my summers in Maine, past and present. Before I was ten, I spent half my summers in Maine, most of them at my great uncle’s home in West Bath. (The other summers I spent in Massachusetts, either at my grandmother’s home in Roslindale, or, one summer, at Onset, on Cape Cod.)

My memories of those first Maine summer are vivid. The New Meadows River, Thomas Point Beach, swimming in my uncle’s pool or in a family friend’s cove, where she taught me to row. Picking blueberries and raspberries. Exploring tide pools, climbing rocks. Learning the names of birds and mosses and seaweeds. Walks in deep woods. One summer on Southport Island, where my sister Nancy and I crabbed and roamed the (then unposted) woods and rocks. Standing in the words and being doused with spray from a heavy storm.

When I was ten we spent our first summer in the home I live in now. All winter I planned for that summer. So did my mother, whose plans included removing the 13 layers of wallpaper on some rooms, and my  grandmother, who planned a garden with raspberries that soon involved everyone. (So did those layers of wallpaper!)

As a teenager I spent my evenings at first ushering, and then in the box office, of the Boothbay Playhouse, a repertory company not far from our home. I rowed on the river. I mowed the grass. I stretched out on our lawn overlooking the Sheepscot River and read. I helped make raspberry jam and bread and butter pickles.

Maine was where I wanted to be year round, but I couldn’t convince my grandparents to stay all winter so I could attend a local school. I had my own private rituals for the end of August, when we headed back to New Jersey. At a low tide I’d walk to the eddy near our home, sit on the trunk of a tree that had sunk into the mud, inhale the smell of the mud flats, and bottle it, at least in my mind. Then on a warm sunny day I’d walk barefoot in our large garden, by then empty of some vegetables, and I’d promise myself I’d never forget the feel of warm soil under my feet.

25 years ago

And I never did. I only missed one summer in Maine. It was my first summer working in New York City, after college, and I didn’t qualify for any vacation days until after I’d worked a year. That summer my mother took a small Victorian shadow box frame, put a sprig of sea lavender in it, and tucked a note in the back:  “Remember the salt wind, tide pools, crying gulls, sea lavender, and know there’s still a quiet place.” That frame and its message stayed on my desk through 30 years of corporate jobs, and is still on my desk today. And I’ve never forgotten.

As years passed I spent a Christmas in Maine, brought my daughters to Maine, hunted for jobs in Maine (unsuccessfully,) and eventually was able to move to Maine full-time, where I cared for my mother for four

1st daughter sees ocean for first time

years and then married the man I loved. He learned to love Maine, too.

This summer one of my daughters was married here (my second daughter to be married in Maine), and my sisters and daughters have all visited. One of my granddaughters had her first summer job here. My twenty-fourth book written here was published. (A couple of years ago I even wrote a book about what it was like to live in Maine with the man I loved, who was an artist, and what it was really like to be an author.) 

and what Researching a book ….

October 1 I will have lived here fulltime for twenty years; without doubt, some of the best years of my life.

In thinking back, I have very few regrets in life. But even in hard times (we all have had them) thoughts of Maine sustained me.

Maybe it’s that smell of mud flats. Or the taste of lobster. Or sea breezes. Or just knowing that people lived here before we did, and survived, and that this world would also be there for those who came after us. And that, as my mother had written, no matter what “there’s still a quiet place.”

Maye we all find the place that brings us that peace and calm Maine has brought me.

About Lea Wait

I write mysteries - the Mainely Needlepoint, Shadows Antique Print and, coming in June of 2018, the Maine Murder mysteries (under the name Cornelia Kidd.) When I was single I was an adoption advocate and adopted my four daughters. Now my mysteries and novels for young people are about people searching for love, acceptance, and a place to call home. My website is http://www.leawait.com To be on my mailing list, send me a note at leawait@roadrunner.com
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15 Responses to The Place I Found Peace … The Coast of Maine

  1. Calla says:

    You have been a quintessential gift to my soul, for your soul, as much as for your writings…for it is your soul that I listen for! 🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosemary says:

    Lea, As a young child I lived in Maine, but moved away. As a young woman I was stationed in Maine while in the Navy. Now in my 60’s, I have visited Maine for vacation many times and am planning to move permanently to Maine in a few months (once I find a place). You have put the sense of Maine so well in words – it is a quiet place. And, as some people call it – my Happy Place and Dream Home. How I long for that again. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beloved Maine. I feel blessed to be with a partner from Maine, whose family goes back generations and generations in Maine. “There’s still a quiet place.” Oh yes. This is beautiful, Lea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Baker says:

    Lea, thank you for this spot-on portrayal of what Maine can and does do to those of us from “away.” Like you, from New Jersey, the first time my father who had summered in Maine as a youth (Castine – but the “where” doesn’t matter) took us to meet and stay with his Castine aunt, something entered my bones from this state, and has never let loose, through subsequent trips, to different places for the annual stay, rustic Isle Au Haut for thirty years, crowded but beautiful Camden for another 10, and now Rockland for five. And like you, when my work (self-employed) becomes overbearingly stressful, I look at a picture of Moore’s Harbor from our cabin on Isle Au Haut or the view from Mount Battie until let my soul refill with that essence in my bones, remembering the scent of pines, the sound of the waves crashing, the motors from the lobstermen’s boats fishing each and every day, the Moore’s Harbor eagles screaming as they fish also, and the deer who came by our deck all the time, cautious, beautiful, silent, wide-eyed, curious, but without fear, and I am restored again. You have lived my dream of moving there, but my work requires the connections and contacts here. Keep writing, and I’ll order your books from Mainely Murders as I love the Maine Mystery Writers’ books!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bethc2015 says:

    I have similar summer memories and sensations – the taste of blueberries and raspberries warmed by the sun, the toot of boats going down the Penobscot, the sound of young otters running and squealing along the shore. My father built me a platform, rather than a hammock, so that I could lie among the pine trees and read my favorite books – many of them historical novels similar to those you write and I love. Was fortunate to move to Maine in my 20s and get to meet writers like you. Thank you for all you give to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ellen says:

    Beautiful. I was fortunate enough to be born and to grow up here, but your descriptions of the magic and the wonder are perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a lovely kiss to Maine, Lea. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vicki Erwin says:

    We have spent a fair amount of time in Maine since my daughter moved there and you have captured my feeling indeed. Especially September in Maine. We love to come during that month. It starts out warm and cools with each successive week. Thank you for this lovely piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kammy says:

    Lea, how I love the way you write about Maine… When I read your memories, I’m with you overlooking the rivers, walking by the ocean, and smelling the rich piney scent of the woods. Thank you for bringing me with you. It’s a special joy to be with you in your peaceful place as I balance it with days and nights in Vietnam… very few of them peaceful, but precious because of the people who inhabited them. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to write a mystery about the death of a Doughnut Dolly at The Wall… my sacred place in DC. I think I’d better get started, don’t you? Sending gentle, healing TLC hugs for you… 😊🤟🏼🇺🇸❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Paula Keeney says:

    Lea,
    You never cease to amaze me. Today, it’s way you put into words what so many people—yes, people originally from “away”—think about Maine. As you know, you’re in my thoughts every day. After all, all your books sit front and center in front of me here in our bookstore. Thanks for the thoughts.
    Paula Keeney
    Mainely Murders Bookstore, Kennebunk

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Kay Bennett says:

    Although I have never been to Maine, reading your words here and in your books bring the delights of it to me so vividly. One day, I hope maybe I can enjoy them in person. Thank you for your beautiful words always. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. L.C. Rooney says:

    Lea, I love the sentiment your mother wrote. How absolutely lovely and comforting a reminder to us all.

    Thinking of you…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. MaryAnn Fitzharris says:

    It’s been a pleasure to get to know you, Lea, and this Maine story is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nancy Stohlman says:

    We have come to love Maine (and especially Boothbay Harbor) on what has become almost annual vacations there. Reading your thoughts and memories of your Maine, brought back all of my feelings of that peace and calm that Maine brings me.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Gram says:

    I couldn’t say it any better than Edith Maxwell. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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