This time of year is bittersweet for me. Summer winds down to mists and chill nights, the scent of fallen apples fills the air, and my dear friends leave for other lives. The goldfinches, who fill our home with their sweet songs, gorge themselves at the feeder hanging from the balsam fir in preparation for their journey south. The squirrels and chipmunks chitter and skirmish as they carry away fallen seeds to stow in their cache, and my human friends begin to pack their bags.
Virginia is an old friend who has been in our lives since the late 1980s. She met us through our little cottage on Orcas Island, which she rented. She said when she stepped through the door she KNEW that we were fellow Maineiacs, as crazy for Maine as anyone she'd ever discovered. Our Orcas cottage was outfitted in Maine antiques, Maine books, (Coatsworth, Beston, Louise Dickinson Rich, E.B. White, etc.), and even old plaid Maine camp blankets.
When we finally met in person, we felt like we'd known each other for a lifetime, but then, isn't that how true friendship always feels? Ginny, who lived in Anacortes, Washington most of the year and Maine in the summer, asked us if we would loan her our cottage on Orcas in exchange for her Maine cottage, and we said an emphatic "YES!"
I never dreamed, as we drove down the Bristol Peninsula toward Christmas Cove, that Virginia's cottage was one I had always loved. I burst into tears when we walked through the door of her home, which was once (before she restored it) the island market. I finished Sunflower Houses at her kitchen table overlooking the South Bristol Town Landing. And I lived in her home as I finished the illustrations for Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots.
So, it is because of our early years in Virginia's cottage that we bought here over 15 years ago. We feel at home in this historic fishing village, which isn't touristy like so many other areas.
An old restaurant chalk board sports the sign "Diva Dinner to honor Virginia."
Our porch is the place where everyone gathers.
My friend Eleanor who is a great gardener, cook, and person.
Eleanor always arrives with a gift, usually home made...the best kind of offering.
Jodi, who taught at Cordon Bleu and is the most amazing and inventive chef I know. I was intimidated to cook for her, but she actually said "ummmmmmm" over some of my food and asked how I did it. Was she just humoring me?
Patrick and Alli
Max (Virginia's son our adopted god son) and Alli enjoying a fire and playing ring toss.
Honestly, Patrick NEVER relaxes, but here he is relaxing. He is Virginia's adopted son and has been a part of our lives since he was a child. I remember watching him handle a boat when he was about 9 years old...his skill is flawless.
Max grew up on the rocks in front of our cottage. He named them "Jurassic Park." Here he is introducing Gen to the rocks.
Some of the group on the porch.
When Ginny leaves at the end of the summer, an empty spot opens in our hearts. To celebrate her and her friendship, we threw a "Diva Dinner" last Friday night. What I most loved about the dinner was the gentle yet spicy mix of friends from every generation-from Wesley, who is just a few months old, to adults in their mid-80s.
Faretheewell, Virginia! We will all miss you.
The "Diva" taking photos for her sweet memories.
P.S. We are working steadily on Comfort Found Literary Lodging and are breathlessly approaching the finish line. We've been installing antique lighting, hanging old maps of Maine, and stuffing the bookcases with some of our favorite reads. Today Jeff is painting the trim in the kitchen and moving on to the final room. It is charming and homey in the apartment, and I love being in the heart of Damariscotta, which bustles with life during the day and calms (translate-sidewalks rolled up by 9) at night. I promise to post some photos of our project next week.