Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Yesterday morning began (as always) with a cup of coffee and (not 'as always') a walk on the beach.  (Only because my hometown is landlocked, unlike this magical Maine locale.) Loving the low tide and feeling like I'm getting to discover a new place while the rest of the world sleeps.

Today, I decided to to into Portland and take a guided tour. My favorite stop was this lighthouse, where Longfellow reportedly wrote his appropriately titled poem "The Lighthouse" with the familiar words  "Sail on! Sail on!" Still good advice.
Our tour guide was a retired fellow with personality plus. He went by the name "Bampy" because his grandsons can't say their "g" sounds yet. Ahhhh! Sweet story.  Big tip for Bampy at the end of the tour. Where I ask him how far the Portland Public Market is. "Five blocks up the hill." This is walkable? "Oh, yes, no problem," promises Bampy. And I won't have any trouble finding it? "Oh, you'll go right to it!" gushes Bampy.

After I hiked up the mountain that is downtown Portland,  Maine, I discovered a few more questions I should have asked Bampy like, "Is it in a safe part of town?"  I found I passed blocks  of Salvation Army shelters that had not yet opened for the night. Those waiting for a place to sleep just crashed all over the route to the Public Market with their grocery carts blocking the sidewalk. It was the first time on this vacation that I felt a little leery of being alone.

When I finally reached the Public Market, I discovered one more key question I neglected to run by Bampy: "IS IT OPEN ANYMORE?" My printed literature showed a thriving Public Market that rivaled Seattle's fish throwing market. (I imagined here they would throw lobsters and I'd have some fresh "chowdah"...IF IT HAD BEEN OPEN.) Closed, shuttered, neglected and boarded up, Portland's Public Market is no more. And somewhere Bampy is laughing all the way to the bank with his tips. My cynical mind wondered if he even had grandsons...

But, the walk back had a few delights of its own. You think Austin has some different ideas? Check this out: "Soakology: a foot sanctuary and teahouse". You soak, you drink, you are happy as a moose. (Notice I did not say "happy as a clam": the Public Market that sells them is closed. But I'm not bitter.)

I also discovered this delightful row of chairs. Perfect for sitting and thinking. I find on this trip that I am doing many of the same things that I did when D and I made this trip two summers ago. It makes this traveling alone much easier because everything seems familiar somehow.

 When I taught in private schools and prospective students would visit, we would pair them up with a trusted student (shout out to Syd Smith!) to show them around. We called this method "shadowing". I feel like I've been shadowing D during this vacation, trying the familiar alone first. Then I can ease into the solo trips.

During D's last weeks, I'd ask him what he was thinking. "You", he'd reply, "I'm thinking about how you will do later." He spent as much energy as he could giving me advice about how to manage money and practical things when he was gone. One night he seemed much lighter of spirit and made an announcement. "I've decided you will do just fine. You have great friends and family who will take good care of you." Shadowing. Making sure I had someone to show me around.

Well, kill the fatted calf: the prodigal pictures have resurfaced! I was able to finally upload these to the blog from my Kennebunkport travels.

This is the Bush compound.
This is the Colony hotel, home to generations of Maine vacationers.  Photoshopped to look like it was taken 'back in the day'.
This is the home where I am staying. My friend, K, keeps this house 2,000 miles away from her home in Texas, as a retreat sanctuary for friends and family. And we are all so blessed and refreshed by her generosity and kindness.


Buttercup said...

What a lovely house to stay in. I loved Soakology and the moose on the sign. Definitely overdue for a trip to the coast of Maine. Have you had steamers yet on this trip?

Craig Weeks said...

My mom said "Grammy and Grampy". It came out Mammy and Mackey. And it stuck.

k and c's mom said...

Steamers! I need to try steamers! Thanks for the suggestion, Buttercup.

at His feet said...

syd shouts back! you would have been proud of his banana bread making skills earlier today. i'm sure there was some cooking taking place in your classroom.

praying your time continues to be refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

So very thankful for your good and generous friend ...your strength is amazing and then I consider the source...

Lynn said...

What a great place to stay. I love the Soakology, I think we could all use a little soakology in our lives, not sure what the moose has to do with but... The beach looks beautiful, so refreshing for the soul! I am landlocked as well but spent 4 years living on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia and the ocean was my refuge.

Anonymous said...

This house is beautiful. What a blessing!
I know you will get a kick out of this...I had to click on the picture of the Bush home to get a close up. I was disappointed, no W. Maybe next time.
I hope you return home refreshed and filled with the presence of God to hold you and comfort you for the months to come.
Love ya like a sis! Patty R.