Every summer for the past 13 years, my parents have rented a house on the bay in Freeport, ME. I was single when they first started renting it, and my first niece had just been born. My first visit was an escape from an unhappy experience (and relationship) in Texas. Now we have seven kids in that generation and I am married with two of my own. The “Bay House” as my kids call it (to differentiate from their other grandparents’ beach house) has a magical quality for me. Although it resides in a town known for outlet shopping and L.L. Bean, the house is remote, private and peaceful. In fact, it is one of two houses that sits on a piece of land that turns into an island when the tide is particularly high. The directions to the house say something like, “drive all the way down the dirt road. When you think you can’t go any farther, drive down into the ravine and up the other side. The house is the last one on the left.”
My kids are now equally captivated by the Bay House with its abundance of trees and small wildlife and gorgeous view of the bay on either side. They love romping through the woods in search of the “seaweed cabin” and scrabbling over rocks. They look out over the bay in search of gulls and other birds and scour the ground for acorns to throw off the deck. We walk down to the ravine to throw stones in the water and watch for boats going past.
In truth, my kids don’t spend a lot of time in nature. No one in my family is particularly outdoorsy and Big Guy seems to have missed that gene on his side of the pool. We’ll go for walks now and again, but more than a few trees together tend to freak my kids out. I’d personally choose to hike more often, but my husband is easily bored. He’d much rather view a high def movie than a sunset. But for some reason, this patch of land isn’t frightening or foreign. For them it feels like a different home base. And for me, the lapping water at high tide, the soft tinkle of a wind chime in a breeze and the (generally) cool respite from the hot chaos of town is sheer heaven.
There is something else I love about this particular house. The owners have decorated it with items from their travels and the other areas of their life. In an upstairs bathroom, there are collages of family and friends who have visited the house over the years. Since we have been visiting for so long we have been able to watch, as more pictures are added, as their family has grown. Their oldest granddaughter is about the same age as my oldest niece, and these people who are familiar only from pictures seem like extensions of my own family.
I hope we are able to continue visiting our special spot in Freeport as my kids grow. I want them to continue to make magical memories here each summer, in a spot where you imagine you could even see fairies flit among the trees. As they get older, perhaps we’ll try a canoe trip or a long hike, but for now they are content to take in the view and search for acorns and the perfect rock for throwing. Those are the type of simple pleasures that I think many of us take for granted.