I used to think I’d never want to be a sea captain’s wife. Waiting, always waiting for his ship to come in. Pacing, forever pacing the widow’s walk. Are those his sails I see on the horizon? Is another storm rolling in? Maybe he’ll bring me a cache of fragrant spices from the East Indies. 🙂
Well, all this was before I stayed at The Captain Jefferds Inn, one of several former sea captains’ mansions in Kennebunkport that’s been converted to a Bed & Breakfast. I guess those salty sea captains, engaged as they were in lucrative trade and shipbuilding, liked having tangible symbols of their wealth and status on full display in the community. It was good of them to provide their left-behind wives with a nice place to hang out in their absence, don’t you think?
Captain William Jefferds was especially lucky. Rather than having to build his own mansion, he and his wife Sarah received their beautiful Federal-style home as a wedding gift from Sarah’s father. It was built in 1804, and it wasn’t long before the pitter patter of twenty-two little feet echoed within its walls. I doubt Sarah was ever bored when William was out to sea. Come to think of it, with eleven children, it doesn’t sound like William was gone all that much. 🙂
It begins when you’re little and you read a picture book about bears and blueberries. You have no idea where Maine is and have never seen real blueberry bushes in person, but this story of mothers and cubs stays with you always.
As you grow up, you develop an eternal craving for lobster and blueberry pie. You eventually hook up with L.L. Bean, fly through Bangor airport on the way to Europe, and after you get married you hear interesting stories about “Maine people” from your in-laws in New Hampshire.
After starting a book and food blog, you notice there are lots of very cool author and artist types (in addition to Mr. McCloskey) associated with Maine: E.B. White, Barbara Cooney, Margaret Wise Brown, Gail Gibbons, Carrie Jones, Melissa Sweet, Cynthia Lord, Cathryn Falwell, Ashley Bryan, on and on.
Many friends who don’t actually live in Maine flock to the Southern Coast every summer and return refreshed and inspired with blueberry stains around their mouths and a decidedly dreamy look in their eyes.
So I asked myself — what is it about Maine that could spawn the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as well as Stephen King? Why are there more poets per capita in Maine than any other state? Is the lobster that good?
Moreover, how did I manage to reach near fossilization 29 years of age 🙂 without ever having set foot on Maine soil . . . or sand? And what’s this I keep hearing about Portland being a foodie paradise?