Roughly translated from the Abenaki language, Ogunquit, our vacation home, means “beautiful place by the sea.” I can think of no description more apt for the charm of the village, where a river meets the ocean and carves a repeatedly breathtaking coast.
Summer has long felt most appropriate for me in New England. Perhaps it is a result of my Connecticut upbringing; perhaps because of the two weeks we spent here in Maine each August. When I smell ocean breeze and freshly caught fish, they seem to complement the region’s cottages, pure white fences, and open shutters more perfectly than any other setting.
This town was the first place where I began to enjoy the freedom that comes with maturity and age. Confident that the streets were quaint and safe, my parents would let my sister and I wander on our own: first to the top of the hill by our hotel to reach a gumball machine, later to the center of town to visit the artisan candy shop, where windows on the back walls allow glimpses of ageless candymakers hard at work, sifting sugar and rolling thick mounds of chocolate.
As we grew older, candy became less alluring. Coffee made its introduction to my life, and seemingly in tandem, Native Grounds opened its doors next to the local ice cream parlor. A few paces down the brick walkway, where the local bakery displayed head-sized cookies in its window, I often chose a piece or two of sugar coated, doughy cinnamon bread to accompany my caffeinated cup.
As years went by, we lounged for a lighter meal on an outdoor patio that became property of Fancy That, a sandwich shop whose owner took over the coffee and ice cream businesses as well. And while the sandwiches may have decreased in size over the years, the enchanting character of the town’s center remains the same. Plus, they’re still liberal with the avocado.
Ogunquit has been with me since I was just a few months old. Capping off each year, it provides me the comfort of the familiar, a sensation all too uncommon in the rapidly shifting blocks of New York. I need that balance, that ability to return to a place free from time and transformations. I have that here.
Where is your summer paradise?