Tag Archives: Beach

The Maine Event; When life’s a beautiful beach

There are times in many of our lives where the pure joy and bliss you feel is hard to describe. Generally they come from time spent with the ones we love, witnessing a wedding or cradling a new-born baby.  And while those are extremely special moments mine came during a recent trip to a beach house in Maine.

stairsGrowing up I was never one of those girls who spent endless hours giggling on the phone with friends and I seemed to understand the ways of boys better than teenage girls.  But as I get older I greatly cherish the relationships I’ve built with a particular group of women introduced to me by my blog writing partner, Lis. Her extremely giving nature draws people in and over the years she’s generously shared her closest friends with me.  And oh what lovely friends they are…smart, funny, accomplished, beautiful and generous of spirit.

beachFor thirty years Lis and her family have rented a beach house in Maine each summer for a couple of weeks enjoying the sun, sand and warm ocean breeze…ok, occasionally the breeze isn’t so warm since we are talking about the Atlantic.  This year she arranged the house for an extra week themed around wine, women and song and invited 5 friends including myself.

cartThe six of us drove down in a caravan of two cars and the laughter of the road set the tone for the week along with our first shopping trip to the liquor store.  I know it looks like a lot but we thought it would last, ha who were we kidding. There were equal amounts of white and red from around the world and if you’re looking closely even a bottle gin in the corner of the cart to start off cocktail hour.

all on the beachMornings were meant for long walks on the beach (exercise was necessary after all the food and wine) but no pressure if you just wanted to laze around the house and have a second cup of coffee. Days were for sitting in the sun, reading beach books, swimming in the ocean and sipping wine.

lynnOur nights were filled with delicious dinners, more wine and singing along to Lis’ amazing playlist. Some days we even sat on the beach long after everyone else had left just chatting as the sun went down. And as the tide went out again in the late evening we sometimes snuck back down to the beach whispering and laughing as we walked in the dark along the water’s edge.

puzzleIt was all so uncomplicated and easy as if we’d been friends for life.  Everyone chipped in with the cooking and cleaning and there was even a big jigsaw puzzle on the table that everyone just seemed to pick away at in hopes of finding that one elusive piece nobody could find. I’m extremely competitive so it almost killed me to leave before the puzzle was finished.

At the end of the week I was the first to leave and I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and believe when I say I’m not the mushy type. But at a certain age when you start to feel like the world doesn’t see you anymore these women made me feel amazing not only about myself but the possibilities of what life still has to offer.

book&wineSitting there with my toes in the sand, the sound of the waves washing against the shore I realized life couldn’t be more perfect.  So for all the times life lets you down remember there will be other times when life’s a beautiful beach.  We’ve only been apart for a short time but I’m missing my marvelous friends and hope this is the beginning of an amazing new tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

Sipping A Cool White On The Italian Coast

Spending a day at the beach on the Italian coast in August is pretty much what I imagine hell would look like. Tanned bodies, lined side by side down the beach as far as the eye can see – all glistening from Bain de Soleil SPF4. Remember that smell?

But visit that same coast one month later and all of a sudden hell is transformed into heaven, with only the odd white Speedo clad professional tanner in sight. This is a road much less travelled in September, so the miles of uninhabited beach also come at a fraction of the cost.


Toe to toe in the warm waters of the Adriatic Coast

Welcome to Senigallia, on the Adriatic Coast in Le Marche province. It’s about 35 minutes north of Ancona, the biggest city in the region. Sun-drenched hotels, most of them shuttered up for the season, line the beachfront boulevard. You can walk for hours, stop and take a dip in water that’s warmer than Maine in the heat of the summer, or just settle on the sand with a picnic and a good book.

Or you can venture further south and hit the jackpot.

Paradise Found

Our little convoy headed towards Parco Conero, a massive national park on the coast. None  of us had ever been there, but nothing ventured……We made our way up steep twisty roads, passing cyclists with thighs the size of giant Redwoods, to a little coastal  town called Porto Nuovo which is hugged by some of the bluest water I have ever seen. The beach was covered with small smooth stones, the water perfect for an afternoon dip to chase the clouds away.

The only restaurant still open for the season welcomed us warmly. They brought plates of local mussels and clams pulled from the sea that very morning. Our gracious waiter suggested a red and white from the region. The red, a Lacrimo de Moro d’Alba, although distinctive, did not get many takers.  It smells strongly of roses, and has a very intense taste of prunes.  But the white, Mama Mia, La Vigne – a Verdicchio Di Jesi …well we ordered six more, cleaning them out.

On a wine note, if you are bored by your Pinto Grigio, give a Verdicchio a try.

We sat for hours contemplating life over wine and a beautiful view, took a swim in water so clear you could see the fish swim by and sunned ourselves on the rocks.

To quote Mungo Jerry, In the Summertime when the weather is fine, you can stretch right up and touch the sky”.


What a way to extend the summer!

Ode To Maine

Maine Friends

Holding your  friends close can be tough to do in these busy times. Not enough time for visits, calls or catch-ups.

For the past 22 years, I’ve been so lucky to be able to spend this calendar week  with a stellar and eclectic group of people in the state of Maine. And during the week I would hold  them very very close because that week  (which eventually became two) would last me the whole year.

We refer to each other as  the Maine friends, not because the friendship exists only on our sandy beach, (and  none us of actually comes  from there), but because the Maine friends believe there is no better place to spend this  week each year.

Yes, the water turns your lips blue, the traffic on transit day means the drive from Montreal could take you 5 or 10 hours and the weekly fee for the cottage keeps creeping up  steadily.  There were years of the 60 cent dollar that left you wondering if there was a point where it didn’t make sense (or cents) anymore.  After all, PEI is beautiful.

When we moved to Toronto eight years ago, the driving time doubled, but who cares?  This was OUR week, on OUR beach so OUR kids could grow up with blue lips, powerful waves and a beach that stretched for miles.

I always loved the fact the kids would pick up where they left off. The blue-lipped gang would explore the rocks, spend hours body surfing and run at the sound of the ice cream truck. Of course there were also the dramas. We even used to bet how long before the first kiddie meltdown.  But the dramas never lasted long. It was Maine.  And Maine never lasted long enough.

Two years ago, my girls, now in their twenties,  carted down a load of books, a bottle of sunscreen and  counted their blessings because they love it every bit as much as they did when they played in the tidal pools.

Friends for Life

Other beach  regulars would call us The Canadians. They watched our kids grow. That’s what the woman from Connecticut told me every year when we exchanged  reading suggestions. She also loved watching the  compound grow. There were always the drop-ins, those invited guests who easily slipped into the relaxed pace of the week. It took at least three summers before they could  be called regulars proving they were more entranced by our beach Big Chill  than scared off by the big chill of the water. Then they had to take the Pledge not to reveal more about the location other than it was near Old Orchard.

This is  the first time in 22 years my husband and I can’t be there. No illness or depressing reason other than being kept home by a work thing that couldn’t be changed (try explaining to the IOC that you would really appreciate it if they held the Olympics a couple of weeks later). I am handling it like an adult. It’s been put in perspective, and my often Pollyanna-like optimism reminds me that “I’ve been so lucky to have been able to go for 22 years and we will definitely be back next year”.

Time flies and I’m sure by Monday, I’ll stop thinking about what I would be doing this very minute on my beach   – whether I would be helping to take  orders for Goldthwaites for “arrival night”  dinner on the beach or arguing what Billy Jo Macallister really threw off the Talahatchee bridge. I would have mused at least a dozen times that it doesn’t get better than this.

I would have  already unpacked my 24 interesting bottles of wines picked up in tax-free New Hampshire and my dozen books for beach reading plus the selections I’d have picked for others because after 22 years you get to know the reading preferences. I would have made the bed with my sheets ridiculously-ironed and spritzed so when I crawl into them and look out window at the ocean and hear the sound of the waves, I would sigh. Because this is my happy place. It’s the place where I am most true to myself. It’s the place where my children will take their children, and it’s the place where I can hold my dearest Maine friends oh so very close.