Way back in the dead of winter, when we were planning our third summer trip Downeast, we knew from experience that the house would be the thing, almost the only thing. We didn't want to go somewhere only to feel like we had to then go somewhere else; we wanted to stay somewhere that was the destination.
And I had my heart set on a farmhouse. Or, if not an actual, current farmhouse, then at least a farmhouse vibe. The spot in which we landed for the first two weeks of our stay had that in spades, from the airy, whitewashed palette to the original wood floors -- slanting and all -- to the ancient cookstove in the kitchen and the mysterious, dilapidated old structure falling down next door.
Coming from a two-bedroom apartment in the city, it was a revelation for the munchkins to be in a house with two stories, one where they (where all of us!) could spread out, with nooks and crannies for play, exploring and quiet time seemingly everywhere.
Of course, the stove, charming though it was, really wasn't fit for all the temperature-sensitive baking I had in mind, and the not-so-tight frame let in considerably more wildlife of the bug variety than I'm used to dealing with. And, I'll be honest: long, deserted country roads sometimes conjure up the dark side of my imagination.
And yet, the ability to do my thing in the kitchen for the better part of the day while the munchkins banged in and out of the screen door was a little bit of heaven. Mostly, I realized, having my surroundings support, rather than go against (as they so frequently seem to ... urban living seems to require more day-to-day creativity than I can muster) my being the kind of mama I'm always striving to be. And witnessing the munchkins blossom in an environment where they could "free range" so much more than they can at home. That especially.
I went to college in Maine, then spent another two years there at my first newspaper reporting job, so the way and the landscape of life there isn't foreign to me. But even being someplace familiar, when you yourself are different -- because there's really no comparing an adventure-seeking college kid with a responsibility-minded mama, is there? -- everything else is different, too. This can feel fresh as well as daunting, but mostly it's just plain fun, like discovering a place that is at once old and new. But even if it weren't this way for me, I can tell that for the young ones, it's the start of something exciting and that yes, we will be back, if for no other reason that just to see what happens.