I knew the trip was going to be good when Cindy suggested we meet in Portland, Maine, travel up the coast, ferry across Penobscot Bay, and land at Nebo Lodge Inn on North Haven Island for a weekend in July.
Long-distance friends who haven’t seen each other in years, we were casting around for a destination that would serve our mutual need for the ocean and good food. And when Cindy saw this brief mention in Bon Appétit, and then passed it along to me, our vacation weekend fate was pretty much sealed.
A great place to stay booked and at least one fabulous meal scheduled, filling in the rest of the details was easy. A week before our trip, we were still passing each other links for bookstores and bakeries. With just about 72 hours together, including sleep and driving/ferry time, we’d come up with enough interesting things to do, eat, and see to fill a week.
But here’s the thing: time became magically, summerly slow. The more we did, the more we were able to do. The hours elongated and we found time to do almost everything we wanted.
Our first morning, we made a beeline for Scratch Bakery, in time to get our hands on still-warm, fresh bagels. With our coffee, tea, and bagels, we sat out front of the bakery, talking, watching people come and go, absorbing the coastal sunlight.
Until we were a bit further up the coast, that is, at a favorite lobster spot, when we realized we were an hour and fifteen minutes away from the ferry we’d planned to take to the island. The ferry that was leaving in forty-five minutes. The ferry we believed was the last one of the day.
Then Cindy remembered there was one more ferry, and we relaxed, and drove to the ferry landing, and had time to wander the little town of Rockland, where we tasted beautiful fruit-infused balsamic vinegars and smooth, strong olive oils, wandered through art galleries, and found our way by accident to the Farnsworth Art Museum and its collection of N.C. and Andrew Wyeth paintings.
We made it to the island. And to our room, named “Butter”, with its three windows that provided a beautiful breeze, morning sunlight, and a peek of the harbor. Pale yellow curtains and bedspreads. Everything else was white, clean, and calm. A summer still life.
And time again slowed.
We changed for dinner. We ate, drank, laughed, talked. The place was hopping. Locals, and folks like us. It felt like the only place to be that night.
The next day, we packed in all we could: a leisurely breakfast, a hike, time on the front porch for reading (which quickly became time for chatting), a bike ride, iced tea and cookies on that same front porch, more time for reading, a relaxed dinner at the little place by the harbor. After dinner, I headed to the beautiful community center and watched a movie, while Cindy returned to “Butter” and her book.
We stalled time as long as we could. Night came. Then morning. Cindy found one more pocket of time for a final hike up to Ames Knob while I wandered the Inn, taking pictures and watching the ocean light.
On the early ferry, we sat in companionable silence, watching the island recede and the ferry’s wake ripple, each pulling apart the still-warm banana-coconut muffins we had taken from the breakfast table at the Inn minutes earlier.