The treasure chest of memories associated to our brief visit in Maine is already full and running over. With two more days left before us, I can’t begin to imagine what other surprises the trip could hold. Seriously, by the end of yesterday I had identified at least half a dozen different things that could be featured in my morning blog. Where do I start? How do I begin?
Let me say by way of introduction that yesterday was one of the best of days. At every juncture, I had the thought, “I’ve got to write this down.” By the time we were in Maine for a day and a half, I had the sense that we were locked on “fast-forward” and it was almost too much to absorb. The General would concur with that assessment. We talked about it last night. It had been a wonderful day.
The experiences we’ve encountered probably are atypical to those most strangers passing through the state experience. We have the good fortune of having friends that live in Bath. It was our first trip to visit them and we have been amazed by the warm welcome extended us by their friends. In fact, tonight we all are joining one of their neighbor’s at her home for lobster and steak. Even before she met us, she extended the invitation. After all, lobster is one of the mainstays Maine has to offer. She thoughtfully wanted to ensure we didn’t miss that experience.
It was the author E.B. White who said: “I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” Base on our first impressions of everyone we’ve met, I can’t argue with his assessment. It is almost as though the value of friendships and importance of shared time with others is intuitively recognized.
In addition, the neighborhood our friends live in is located in walking distance of downtown is one of significance. Dating from the mid-1800s, most of the homes have weathered the test of time and today continue to hold the same prominence and charm they reflected from the beginning. In addition, most fall somewhere into the category of being between 4,000 to 6,000 square feet with lots windows, porches and curb appeal. You really have to see it to believe it.
I don’t know that I’ve ever met so many people who genuinely seem to know that the things that matter most in life are relationships. Who knows, maybe that insight comes from the recognition that the winter months are much easier to manage if they are shared with others in friendship and camaraderie. Actually, that is true of the other three seasons of the year as well.
I’m not a cold weather person. I can’t imagine the temperature ranges in Maine during the winter months or the drudgery of having to deal with snow and the risks it poses if it isn’t shoveled and cleared from roadways and sidewalks in a timely fashion. Add to that the reality that darkness blankets the environment by 4:00 p.m. every afternoon throughout the winter. Those things are difficult to deal with in isolation. It all works better if somehow it can become shared time.
People needing people/people helping people seems to be the mantra for making the worst of times the best of times. In the process, it shifts the focus from the darkness and cold to the warmth and joys associated with shared time with others.
Following dinner on Friday evening, as we walked from downtown back toward the home of our friends, one of our friends suggested we stop in at the home of a couple in their neighborhood hosting a party. The hostess who is a concert pianist was going to be performing. He was certain that we’d enjoy the experience. My initial reaction was that I wasn’t comfortable crashing a party. He countered that we weren’t crashing the party. It was being hosted by dear friends and we would be welcomed. He replied, “I want you to meet these people. You’ve got to hear her play.
I didn’t really want to go, but I also didn’t want to say “no”. Consequently, the General and I opted to be open to the adventure. The folks hosting the gathering couldn’t have been more gracious. In addition, we found the same response from everyone else we met.
In visiting with the husband who is a university professor in music history, he shared some of the history related to the piano his wife would be playing that evening. It was a grand piano with “John Broadway & Sons – London” stamped on the keyboard cover. The piano originally had been shipped with a container of other antiques to the U. S. from England. Reportedly, during that timeframe, it was a matter of routine that at least one piano was added to every container shipped from England in order to make more space available in the country’s antique stores.
He didn’t articulate if the piano needed restoration when it arrived or if it had already been restored. The piano was dated 1895. They purchased the piano 12-to-15 years ago. The person selling the instrument wanted to make sure that the purchaser had the skillset and expertise to play exceptionally well. Consequently, his wife was one of several “would-be” purchasers who auditioned to be selected to purchase the piano.
Our friends had heard her in concert once earlier. In her introductory remarks at that concert which was a fundraiser for a local non-profit, she shared: ““My mother was a classical pianist. My father was a jazz musician who never read a note of music in his life. It is my hope that I play classical music like jazz”.
The music program began with the hostess playing the gift she’d just received from her husband to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. It was a newly crafted re-creation of a vintage historical musical instrument called a virginals. It is a rectangular shaped simpler form of a harpsichord. The music was incredible. That really is understating it. You had to hear it to fully process what I’m talking about.
The same was true of the music she played on the grand piano. Truthfully, she did play classical music with the feeling, passion and soul of jazz. It was an absolutely wonderful evening.
In reflecting back on our day, the neighborhood concert in a beautiful home with outdoor gardens and charm proved to be the crescendo of the day. The graciousness and welcoming of the fifteen to twenty people present gave insight to E.B. Whites proclamation: “I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.”
All My Best!