It’s a long road up to Maine, even after taking the ferry.
The shortest route still runs through Connecticut, Massachusetts, a sliver of New Hampshire and finally across the cantilevered bridge spanning the mighty Piscataqua into the Pine Tree State. And it’s another two and half hours to Boothbay Harbor, a small, friendly tourist village hard by the shores of, well, Boothbay Harbor.
At the earliest opportunity after arriving, day or night, me and the Mrs. make a point of walking out onto the footbridge to take in the sights, familiar yet different, of lobster boats riding at anchor, folk sipping drinks on restaurant decks and, to the south, the pines on the island that marks the entrance to the Gulf of Maine.
I know, I know; we have boats at anchor and waterfront restaurants aplenty hereabouts, but there’s just something about that place. Should the folk from Publishers Clearing House rap on our front door with toothy grins bearing an oversized check, one of the first calls we’d make would be to a real estate agent up there.
The second call would be to a Lamborghini dealer, but let’s keep that between us, OK?
And so it was that while I was driving down to Legends in New Suffolk on a recent weekend evening to pick up dinner for the Mrs. — no, I didn’t stay. Picked up, paid and left. No, really — it dawned upon me that many, many folk must get that Boothbay feeling when coming out here.
I know. Duh! Hey, genius, why do you think so many pay so much for their own piece of North Fork paradise? That I had to think about it is evidence of how meself — and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here — has come to take this place for granted.
So the next time I motored down that road more traveled, I tried to look at it with a visitor’s eyes. Well, a visitor in a good mood. Not one who thinks any stretch of road longer than 150 feet is an invitation to attempt a new land speed record.
Hey look, there’s a small-town firehouse and just beyond a stretch of very pretty houses. Will you look how the road swings through verdant fields and fruitful orchards? That little red schoolhouse is right out of a storybook and if you grabbed a photo of the old weathered barn and the small patch of soil where folk tend to their own row of vegetables it would have to be sepia-toned. And how beautiful a sight is it to see a fleet of sailboats leaving Cutchogue Harbor under the golden sun of a summer evening for the round Robins Island regatta?
Honey, let’s sell the Tribeca loft — Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big, right? — and get a little place out here. We could swim in clean water, breathe clean air and eat fresh vegetables. OK, you’d eat fresh vegetables. Who needs the hustle and hassle of … OK, you get the idea.
But such flights of fancy are fleeting and few. It’s more likely I’m thinking, “Dammit, why is the gas tank on E? I just recently put in 20 bucks.” Or, “Please, God, don’t let me hit a damn deer.” Or, “If my direct deposit isn’t credited toute suite there’ll be a debit card bouncing all over the shorefront and a restaurant that’ll never let me in again.”
Don’t need anyone to tell me that while Maine is wearing its summer best now; the bloom is long off the rose by the time January, February and March roll around. Then there’s mud season, black fly season and the invasion of those damn southern tourists from down Massachusetts way.
No doubt it wouldn’t be long up there before I’d be thinking, “Dammit, why is the oil tank on E? I just put in $1,500.” Or, “Please, God, don’t let me hit a friggin’ moose.” Or, “Honey, if you see a guy in a suit with a briefcase coming up the hill fetch my scatter gun.”
OK, so maybe I’d better think twice about calling the real estate people when my ship comes in. Still, what could it hurt to talk with the Lamborghini folk? But let’s keep that between us, OK?
Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.