Last year we stayed in the 19th-century Farmhouse, and despite our magical experience there, this year we decided to try the Grandparents’ house, perfectly situated on a stone bluff overlooking the most beautiful stretch of sand beach I’ve ever seen. The evergreen trees come right up to the natural grass and granite border.
The extended family has owned a number of homes on the property for five generations. And I won’t get into all the history here (and there is plenty), but if you rent one of the homes, you can stay up late with a glass of wine pouring over papers, articles and photographs about the history of the homes, the families who have lived here, and the 600 acres of preserved land they have donated to research and protection in order to keep the land as it is. The family appreciates its privacy and has a policy of not seeking out press or attention for their efforts, but one of the grandchildren of the original owner has kindly agreed to let me share the experience of staying there.
With so much history in these homes, there’s no shortage of stories. You can feel it in the old wooden floorboards worn from walking patterns and the antique furniture that hasn’t changed a bit since the late 1930s (there is an old photo resting against the mantle). The house is located a half hour from a coastal town where we go to the local farmer’s market to stock up on food for the week; it takes about 20 minutes on a twisted, bumpy–sometimes broken pavement, sometimes dirt–road just to reach the house from the main road. It’s a beautiful drive we have learned to love: The trees tower over the path, and the boys scan the forest for animals. This year, we saw a number of beautiful birds in the meadow as well as a mother deer and her fawn. One afternoon while I was reading on the screened-in porch, I heard a rustling in the woods and looked up to see a spotted doe standing just a few feet away. On two separate occasions–and to our boys’ absolute delight–we had porcupine visitors to the house, two of which made themselves at home for the evening in a tree that stretched up past the second story wrap-around balcony, where the boys stood guard until it was time for bed.
Most days we spent at the beach–crashing into waves, exploring tidal pools, building intricate sandcastles and fortresses with moats, and collecting shells and sand dollars. At night we made dinner and ate around the extra-long dining table on the porch, before making a fire for those chilly Maine evenings. We didn’t do anything extraordinary while we where there. In fact, it was more about what we didn’t do. The house and all its charming details—down to every last note card tucked into a mirror and dedicated book of bedside poetry—tell the stories of a time before email and cell phones and TVs. Shelves are filled with old Italian ceramics and books and board games, and if you let yourself fall into the familiar patterns of those that came before you, you can almost imagine what it must have been like to live there. And for me, that’s what a vacation is all about. We were, for an entire glorious week, transported.
The Details Unlike so many anonymous rental transactions these days, these owners actually like to speak with potential guests on the phone first. They want to make sure you understand and appreciate certain things about the property: an antique stove, for instance, in the farmhouse; no coffee shops or commercial strips within walking distance; that it’s a natural, preserved beach, which means no frisbees or beach balls or loud music. There are still a few openings for next year in June and early fall, so if you’re interested, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.