It’s dark by the time I finally arrive, even though I wanted to beat the sunset and arrive during daylight hours. But pulling myself away from my sister Cara, and nephew, Wyl back in Connecticut however, wasn’t easy so I hadn’t left until after lunchtime. A long wet slog up through the now familiar New England highways leaves me wiped out and when my Toyota pulls in the driveway I only partially unload some boxes, leaving the rest until morning. I pretty much head right to sleep, rudimentarily making up the bed with sheets too small that I pluck blindly from the hall closet. I’ll get the proper size tomorr….zzzz.
It’s morning when I first get a true sense of arrival. I am excited by my first full day in Maine and am up and at ’em! I make a pot of French press, grab my point and shoot and head outside still in my pajamas to get my bearings. I practically skip up to the road to get a good look from the front. Growing luxuriantly, pink and green hydrangeas frame the front door of the farmhouse – indeed most welcoming. When I used to own my old house, I had one of these trees in my backyard, and I always thought I’d like them again. I amble back around and wander through the eight acres of mostly meadow, taking inventory. The red barn, in local architectural style, is attached to the house (with an old outhouse inside – hey, isn’t that an oxymoron?) and includes a mudroom and a warren of storage areas. Behind is a former chicken coop-turned art studio with a wall of new windows that gets great morning light. The black-eyed Susans in front of it remind me of the ‘giggle patch’ from some childhood TV show whose name I can’t remember, but they make me smile nonetheless. Who needs memory when the present is so colorful?
A small pond lies on the east boundary, firepit nearby. I picture a mid-winter campfire, friends skating on the pond or wrapped in blankets on the benches ringing it, drinking hot toddies and getting one of those reflected-off-the-snow suntans. (Note to self: Plan winter getaway for friends back in Brooklyn; February always calls for a social pick-me-up) The vegetable garden is still producing: tended rows of cabbage, Rainbow chard, kale, tomatoes, basil, peppers, beets, carrots, lettuces (I hit the locavore’s jackpot!) and even fledgling grapevines, ambitiously gestating the nectar they will eventually produce in the coming years.
Across the property are the remains of a Christmas tree farm. Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be lovely to run an extension cord out here in December and string up some lights just like my Dad does with the firs at the family homestead back in New York? I could thread some strands of cranberries for the birds…
Suitably caffeinated and now ravenous, I make some breakfast and then plop down in the side doorway. Eating my oatmeal I am overcome, and actually say out loud, despite my solitariness, “Holy mackeral! I get to live here!” I can’t believe my good fortune, and then…yes. Yes, I can believe it. All around is the nature I’ve been craving. I inhale deeply. I exhale fully. Ahhhh. There are birds at the feeders; squirrels and chipmunks are busy making the proverbial hay. Certainly familiar creatures to me, they somehow seem brand new in my mind. One little chipmunk, oh, let’s call him Alvin, scoots along the foundation of the house behind the shrubs, then stops and stares at me. DeNiro briefly comes to mind (you talkin’ to me?), but I suppress a chuckle and remain still. Not fazed by either my proximity or stature, he hops right up to me, on the step. I swear he recognizes me, just as I him, as joint caretaker on this land that once was inhabited by the tribal Penobscot.
He pauses briefly, then bolts. I think I made my first friend.