Since my arrival in Ogunquit, I haven’t stopped moving, learning, and taking everything in. What I look forward to most when I open my door each morning to start a new day is the sound of the ocean. It’s one of the many reasons I felt my heart swell with happiness every time we vacationed here since 2018. I know my mother would love my new home, too. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately knowing she is taking such delight in watching me learn my new role as an Innkeeper. I feel her with me all the time, but especially more so now.
My mother loved birds. Even before she lived with us, she always had bird feeders on her patio filled to the brim with seeds. After she passed away in 2013, the cardinal became my reminder of her. Whenever I am deep in thought, troubled, or even happy, the cardinal appears to greet me and reaffirm my mother’s spirit. The first morning I woke up in my new bed, I heard her outside my room through the calling of a cardinal. Soon, the lilac trees outside my “cabana” will be in bloom. Can you just see the contrast of his crimson feathers against the lavender petals?
When I was little we always took two summer vacations – one to the mountains and the second to the beach. Daddy’s work kept him mostly outside in the hot Texas summers and his respite was the cool breeze and pine-scented air of the mountains in Red River, New Mexico. It’s funny, many things here in Ogunquit remind me of Red River – the cool temperatures, the fragrant spruce trees, and the feel of the damp earth. Like the mountains, we have a brief, light late afternoon rain on most days. The rain ushers in profuse hydrangea and dahlia blooms in the garden, too hot for Texas. Laurence, my new boss, says we never buy flowers from the store because we can pick what we want from our garden. I look forward to making small posies for our guests.
My mother loved the ocean and she planned the second week of our summer vacation for a weeklong trip to the beach. While our beach trips were never to Cancun or Cabo like so many vacations of today, Galveston was typically our summer spot. But, for me as a little girl, Galveston was exotic and exciting. Daddy would pop in his Glen Campbell 8-track tape into the dashboard and turn the volume up and play Campbell’s song Galveston as we crossed over the bridge into the seaside town. Mother typically booked a Hyatt-type hotel so that we always had an ocean view. The minute my parents opened our hotel room door, I’d run to the balcony and peer over the railing to see the ocean waves below.
As I was walking the Ogunquit beach early one morning this past week marveling at how the sunrise illuminates the water, I couldn’t believe the number of clamshells that had washed up on the sand. Small and large, some wide opened and separated in two, and some slightly opened. But, the ones I liked the best were spread open and hinged together like angel’s wings. My memory rushed back to the times I walked along the beach holding my mother’s hand and hearing her say, “If you want to collect the finest shells you must get up very early each morning before they are all picked over by the shell seekers.” I picked up two clamshells, an oyster shell, and three tiger’s eye shells. Not prepared for my shell seeking I clutched them gently into my hand until I returned home and set them out on my patio table. I now have a bag to take with me so I can collect more.
I told myself that when I started the journey into my third act, I wouldn’t rush through life as I did before retirement. I want to be mindful and intentional. But if I am honest with myself, I can see how challenging it will be when I am on such a huge learning curve. When I finished a twelve-hour day yesterday after scrubbing, cleaning, moving furniture, and preparing for our first guests of the season, I fell into bed exhausted and every muscle in my body ached. I think most days will be like this, and there is no way to get around it. I was warned. Numerous times. But, I know this season will end in October and I can rest as much as I want when I return home. Until then I’ll focus on things I can control – like my early morning beach walks, sipping coffee on my patio, stepping outside for a break to feel the breeze on my face and smell the flowers blooming. I’ll listen more intently for the cardinal. I can walk into town and chat with shopkeepers – like 80-year-old Gordon who works in the gallery. He’s quite the town historian and I like hearing him tell me stories. I can feel myself having growing pains and like the shells I collect on the beach, some days I am missing a piece of the way life used to be, but most days I feel like the shell with the angel wings – ready to fly where life takes me.
Thank you for following my journey. I couldn’t do it without your kind words and loving support. BTW – if you want a small collection of shells sent to you drop me a postcard or letter. I plan to tack all my letters over the next eight months on the wall in my cabana. Melissa INN Maine, 36 Beachmere Pl, Ogunquit, ME 03907.
If you want a postcard from me fill out this quick form and I’ll be sure to ask Bentley, our resident Innkeeper pooch to mail you one! If you’ve requested a postcard, no fear I send a batch out weekly.