Last May I received a notice on Facebook that a business called Social Beadia was having its second annual bead retreat at the Beachmere Inn located in Ogunquit, Maine. I have many warm memories of my childhood where I grew up in the quiet town of Scarborough. I decided to sign up for the 2017 bead retreat so I could not only learn more about my hobby but visit where I used to live, play and, best of all, ride horses.
On April 27th, 2017, an American Airlines jet flew me from Pensacola, Florida to Charlotte, North Carolina and then to Portland, Maine. There I met a good friend from the Midwest, a fellow beader and knitter. Let the fun begin. I started up new rental car only to find that the radio had been left on full blast with no obvious way or no one around who knew how to turn it off. I learned from computers that one only needs to keep pushing buttons to find one that fixes the problem. Ah, silence. But it was pretty funny at the time.
While not an inexpensive trip, I rationalized that it was necessary for my well-being. I needed to get away from not only the over-whelming chores on my parents old house, but my crazy need to do more, be more, accomplish more. Sadly, it also meant leaving the dogs and cat behind at the vet’s boarding facility. Would they be okay without me? Guilt filled my thoughts until I saw my friend at the airport in Maine. Yes, I realized to myself, the animals would be okay, a phone call away. I needed time to reconnect with friends and the outside world.
The Beachmere Inn is located off Route 1. As we entered the quaint town, I turned down a bumpy dirt road that was under construction, then found a small driveway which took me eventually to the edge of the sea. The Beachmere inn was our oasis. As I parked the rented Mazda and got, the cold Maine air cut into my light jacket and made me shiver. Yet I looked behind the huge Inn at the breathtaking, endless cove and sweeping beach which stretched for miles. It was low tide so people were walking along the sand, mindless of the cold, enjoying the scenery. This is the Maine I love, where time seems to stand still and nature takes over. The weather changed from summer to spring and back to winter over the three days I was there, as is usual for the state.
My room, although small, was set up like a timeshare, with a microwave, kitchen table, refrigerator and hot plate. I shared a large deck with other tenants; roped off areas kept tenants from encroaching on other’s views. My room had a large glass door and several windows, giving me an unobstructed view of the beach and the blue horizon. I had my little piece of paradise. The sound of the waves going back and forth, ssshhhh, ssshhhh, and the seagulls cries lulled me to sleep at night. As the weekend went on I could imagine myself coming back to this Inn, to this room, Room 114, to rest, to write and knit and bead. Alone.
The bead retreat kept about fifty of us, all women, very busy, some of us learning new stitches, others easily working the difficult patterns with little help from the instructors. In my brief time making jewelry I had seen and admired Sherry Serafini’s books and patterns about bead embroidery. She was the person I looked forward to meeting. But Marcia DeCoster and Kimberly Stathis were also our instructors. Their intricate designs are unique, challenging and beautiful. What kind of imagination must such artists have to put together something unique time and time again? The best discovery of the weekend was that all three instructors were friendly, approachable and helpful. I bit the bullet and bought extra kits from each instructor, hoping at some point to meet them down the road at another retreat or class.
My friend and I left the retreat a couple of times towards the late afternoon to look for two yarn stores that Google advised were an easy drive from Ogunquit. Time stood still as we walked through the stores, talked to the owners and of course, made purchases.
From there we had to find lobster to eat. This is what Maine is all about, after all. But Ogunquit has now become a well-known tourist stop too, bringing in people who will not hesitate to spend big money. The price of meals in the small town raised my eyebrows. There are few fast food restaurants that line Route One, unlike the Florida coast line where I live. So I grudgingly pulled a twenty out of my purse for a lobster sandwhich at one restaurant and enjoyed every mouth full, trying not to choke on the price.
There was also time for nostalgia. The run down trailer court where our family lived while my dad worked at the USCG base in South Portland, is still there, neat and orderly, now quiet. There are no kids on bikes like I remembered, no kids riding horses past the hot metal trailers like we used to do. People now keep their lots well maintained.
Surprisingly the veterinary practice where I took my Siamese cat, Cleo, to be spayed back in the late 1950’s, is still there, larger and upgraded. I wonder if it is still owned by the same person?
We also drove by the Scarborough High School where my brother graduated. It was bigger, of course, but still in the same location on Gorham Road. As I turned the car in the opposite direction I held my breath, wondering if the Oak Hill Grade School was still there. Was the huge house and barn across the street from the grade school also still there? The white two story house and barn/school house combination appeared on Google Earth the last time I looked. As I drove slowly down the street I was happy to see the old, still immaculate, red brick school where I spent so many hours looking out the window at the horses across the street. Alas, the old, big house and barn had been replaced by housing in high priced communities and the traffic had increased terribly. The abandoned railroad tracks where we used to ride two miles back to the trailer park is now a paved road leading into more new residences. The fields we rode through are gone, now replaced with large trees surrounding the communities. Almost everything about the area had changed. Progress. But there was satisfaction knowing that at the time I lived there life was simple and fun, the perfect safe environment for a young girl to explore on horseback with friends.
The trip was also a chance to reconnect with a friend from grade and high school. As we enjoyed our meal at a family restaurant we laughed about the silly things we did in our youth. There was the time we slipped notes in class, the words written in code so no one could read it if we were caught, which never happened. Her last name starts with a “Z” and mine with a “V” so she always sat behind me at the Hopewell Grade School in Taunton, Massachusetts. We were considered the well behaved girls. Who would have thought that we were being bad? How silly compared to today’s school antics. Z is also now retired, the person voted most likely to succeed and she did. She should have been voted the least likely to show her age too. That’s okay. I’ve aged enough for both of us. It was good to reconnect, something good that came out of Facebook. School friends are now able to keep in touch easily over the miles, over time.
The American Airlines jet again flew me back to Pensacola, without any of the drama that overwhelms the media nowadays. People were polite as were the employees of the airline, in one case, going above and beyond to get me an earlier flight home; home to my dogs and cat, home to my projects and yardwork and real world problems.
I won’t forget the Beachmere Inn and the peacefulness of the Maine coast and the ocean and uninterrupted sleep and time to just “be” and relax.