Off-season travelers to Maine’s Southern Coast leave with memories for a lifetime.
I know of few things more satisfying than to sleep by the sea. It matters little whether I find a room large or small, plain or fancy. It’s the windows that matter; if I can see, hear, and smell the sea, I’m a happy traveler. Yet in summer the rooms I long for have long been spoken for, beyond my reach as surely as a starlet for the love-struck teenager. Summer, I sleep inland, in exile, dreaming of curtains stirred by sea winds, terraces lit with morning sun. I count the days until September.
The off-season coastal traveler knows the advantages of fall. Unlike the height of summer, when minimum stays are mandatory, off-season one may dart, minnow-like, from inn to inn and from cove to open sea to deep harbor, until one finds a place so special there’s no reason to venture farther.
The Southern Maine Coast remains for me one of those special places on earth. Perhaps because I once lived there, oceanside, returning to the Yorks, Ogunquit, the Kennebunks, and the beaches of Scarborough restores bounce to my step. It’s a much-sought-after region in summer, but on Labor Day many people depart as though sucked out by the tide, leaving behind villages with graceful homes built by sea captains, stunning cliffside walks, miles of beaches—and always a place to park.
Last fall I came to the Southern Maine Coast. At home the leaves swirled; the woodpile begged for stacking. No matter! At waterside hotels and inns chefs were in place, staffs at the ready. I heard waves thunder and the dawn chug of lobster boats. One morning I woke to the sunrise and settled before a window in a rocking chair. There had been a storm, so that the sea boomed. Just beyond a window, the waves broke so close that I imagined I could hear the cry to hoist sails. I returned home as encrusted with salt as a barnacle, and happy. For one shining week the starlet had been mine.