One of my bucket-list reveries features a waterfront dock in front of a humble cottage, where I can get up and drink coffee with my feet in the water while watching the sunrise. Therefore, it’s no surprise when my husband’s brother called to invite us to spend the past weekend at a camp on a lake up in Maine he and his wife had use of; our answer was a resounding yes. Sometimes, life lets you hook a snippet of a dream. The first hint this would be one of those weekends, occurred when we left our house at 5:30 a.m. to make the trip up north. We pulled over a few miles later to stop a rattle and caught the sun shimmering as it rose over Hingham harbor.
Two and a half hours later, we met our companions, drove the additional hour together, pulled up to our weekend retreat and disembarked into my fantasy. The cottage was vintage 1950— frozen in time. The houses all around were updated and embellished, but this little property had remained empty for years, enmeshed in title issues and liens. Surrounded by expansive manses with manicured lawns, it sits there, all 500 SF of it, along with a bare-bones outbuilding for sleeping extra guests, and a cluttered storage shed. A pine paneled “everything” room framed the lake view through hand-cranked windows— the whole place a testament to the simplicity of a summer house, used for eating and sleeping—and perhaps for stumbling over family members when rain had the bad grace to arrive.
In this unassuming place, we let go of the real world, plunking ourselves into four Adirondack chairs overlooking the water, jumping off the dock to swim, kayaking to a freshwater lighthouse, and on to a huge rock deposited by a glacier in the middle of the 11-mile lake. There we pulled up the boats and vaulted off the edge into green water so deep we couldn’t see the bottom. Back at the cottage, we ate cheese and crackers on a picnic table at the water’s edge, feasted on steamed lobsters and toasted the sunset with S’mores made with marshmallows melted over an outdoor fire.
Before the mosquitoes chased us in, the haunting sound of loons echoed over the quieting lake. Two days later, I hear them still, their evocative call lifting over the water, a poignant testament to the minimalism of a perfect twenty-four hours— a time-out engineered to ensure we reacquainted ourselves with our spirits.