For the seventh year consecutively, we’ve just enjoyed a vacation in the Boothbay region of Maine. Before I retired from classroom teaching, this mid-August week was a chance for complete rest before heading back to school to set up the art room the week before students arrived. Over the years I would while away the time catching up on my reading and painting, exploring the tidal pools for shells, watching the sunset, swimming, and enjoying a dinner of fresh seafood every night. We never left the compound because all of our needs were met with old New England hospitality focused on comfort and service. It was perfect.
Last year, the inn was bought by a hotel network “designed to grow and support experiential, design-driven independent-spirited hotels across America”. We decided to go back again this year hoping the new owners hadn’t made too many changes.
Fortunately, the view hasn’t changed at all. From enjoying our morning coffee to watching the sun set from the porch, we watched as the locals and visitors got in their walks, bike rides, and runs, all while the lobsterman pulled and reset their traps in the cove across the street. Every afternoon when the tide is almost low, an elderly woman carefully makes her way through the tidal pool to swim a bit in the open water just beyond the rocks. She always has a buddy who waits for her on the shore and she now wears a life jacket. She swims just ten minutes or so, but she does it every day. We have been inspired by this woman and her daily routine for seven years now!
The changes that have been made are similar to what we’ve seen elsewhere post pandemic. Prices are way up. There are fewer services in housekeeping and amenities. In a room that was already tight with a queen bed, they have placed a king sized bed we couldn’t seem to get into without stubbing a toe or shin. The coffee maker was replaced with a fancy electric kettle to boil water and pour over “coffee bags”. Also, no more cooked breakfast – instead cold muffins, yogurt, and granola, which are not bad things, in fact we eat them at home, but we expected the same choices between omelets and pancakes listed on the web site as still being served. The dinner menu has been whittled down to ten or so items, approximately a third of what had been offered. While these are definitely first world problems, in the past we had enjoyed being spoiled on our vacation.
We made the most of it, enjoying the view as much as possible, and going out to dinner a couple of nights and out to breakfast one morning. My husband, Dick, read and napped and I mostly painted, which I love to do there, and also read. I’ve painted the same view over thirty-two times and it’s never really the same with the ever-changing light, varying cloud formations, and the changing tide.
And there’s a lighthouse on the horizon across the cove which you can barely see with the naked eye yet comes to life with a 300mm zoom.
And so year after year, I’ve painted the view. Or shells collected in the tidal pool. Some are just sketches, others I went the whole way with. Some years I painted a bunch, other years I painted fewer because we went on a day trip or two. Most are in small Cotman watercolor books about 4 x 6. This year I made two 8 x 10’s. Anyway, looking back, I’m glad we found this special spot and I’m extra glad I have a portfolio of paintings that will provide visual memories forever. Click thru to see the 32 images in the gallery below.