Like listening to Vince Guaraldi on a snowy evening, Maine evokes a nostalgic warm and fuzzy feeling. Typically it’s known for summer rentals, fried fish and sunburns cooled by the crisp evening breeze, but for this Mr and Mr Smith, it’s all about late autumn.
It’s then, following the crush of summer crowds, when this dream-of-a-state becomes a little sleepier, and the quiet is a gift for locals and those fleeing the chaos of city life, like us. This is where our year-round uniform of plaid flannels and button-suspendered pants finally find their proper place, and our beards fulfill their destiny, hirsutely handy in protecting us against the chilly winds.
So, with impossibly big smiles for 6am, we pulled out of our cramped Brooklyn parking spot for an escape to the Inn at English Meadows, an 11-room bed and breakfast in Kennebunk, Maine. And not just any weekend getaway either, but one of quiet beach strolls and lobster, well, everything, to celebrate nearly two decades as a couple and our second year of marriage.
With our 12-year-old bulldog, Samwise, nestled in the backseat in a swarm of tartan woolens and Guaraldi’s twinkling piano filling the car, we hit the road. Stopping only once in Hudson, Massachusetts, – a side quest for Arrow Moccasins (essential Maine-wear) – we arrived at this Victorian Greek revival-style farmhouse promptly at check in.
Lovely hosts, Eric and Liz Brodar, and their dog, Bailey, greeted us like old friends and showed us to our Bungalow Suite tucked privately behind the inn, a miniature house, complete with a white picket fence and screened porch.
A wood stove warmed this charming two-bedroom cottage that smelled faintly of a Frasier Fir. Settling in, we shook off anything non-Maine still clinging on to us like little barnacles. Sinking into chairs beside the fire, we watched the late afternoon sun stretch through the windows creating a watercolor painting against the soothing pale blue and sage walls.
This is not the Maine of weathered, worn fabrics and rough edges, but one reimagined through a modern lens of clean lines and subtle colors. And PS: it’s infinitely more comfortable and pleasant this way, free from Victorian fluff or bristly and brambly bits.
Leaving Sam cuddled up by the fire, we ventured out to the Lobster Pound in Ogunquit. After cracking our way through the messy feast, we strolled along Wells Beach. Maine’s magic is hard to miss. Trees stand proudly like sentinels guarding the beauty of the thick woods behind them. Even the evergreens are greener as they poke their way to the front of the roads reaching a little farther and a little higher than trees anywhere else. The clean air is an amalgam of firs, salt and earth; a smell like a warm embrace on this cool evening.
Even the night sky, with its shooting stars and white-bright Milky Way, seems hyper-real. You can practically feel the weight of all those constellations pressing in close and reminding you that you are solidly planted on earth.
Arriving back at the bungalow, we took Sam out for a moonlit walk to explore the inn's nearly two acres of land. Back inside, we fell into a deep slumber in our heavenly bed listening to the comforting hiss of the wood stove.
Waking the next morning, we crossed the yard sparkling with dewy crystals echoing the glittery sky from the night before, to the main house for breakfast. Snagging a corner seat in the common dining room, we were welcomed with a banana muffin with nutella (so, obviously made by magical elves). A warm pairing with the robust coffee, which is no small detail either – a good cup of coffee can be as rare as a unicorn.
But this here was real coffee. And just as we’d reduced the muffins to crumbs, Eric presented a breakfast sundae: fresh banana, walnuts, a huge dollop of the creamiest Greek yogurt and a warm drizzle of honey. A course that was only outdone by Liz’s pancakes (well, she is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York). Strike up the chorus of little glowing cartoon angels cooing and plucking harps – we are crazy for pancakes, so much so that we have a pancake song we sing on weekends. How did she know?
And these cranberry-orange buttermilk cakes, with crispy edges and topped in warm syrupy goodness, were worthy of our song. Add two slices of perfectly cooked bacon, and despite all the restaurant/foodie hype in Brooklyn, this easily trumped the competition earning our favorite pancake award.
Following our two days of bliss, we reluctantly left as we had arrived, Sam cuddled in the back snoring in his nest of woolens and the piano notes of Vince Guaraldi blanketing us with warmth. And all of us still dreaming that we were curled up by the stove in our private cottage in the Maine woods.
Miserably trying to re-acclimate to reality as we dig through our bag for the office keys, we discover a familiar key. ‘Yikes!’ Jeffrey laughs, ‘This is for the Inn at English Meadows.’ Forgetfulness? Maybe. But, more likely our reluctance to return the key is a sign of of our wishful thinking of living at the inn for just a little bit longer. One thing’s for sure: it’s definitely the universe telling us to book a return visit. And yes, we’re listening…