The cool night breeze drifted into our house from the back yard and landed me in Maine again. I was in the kitchen cooking and it was one of those evenings after a long hot summer when we could finally leave the screen door open. Starlight and crickets enticed my mind to wander back to a place dear to my heart. My friend Annie lives in Maine and over the years I’ve been lucky to have several chances to visit her. The log home she and her husband built themselves is tucked in the woods along the shoreline of the New Meadows River. We’ve had sailing voyages out to the ocean past osprey nests and rocky harbors. We’ve eaten breakfast at Christina’s and seen the huge ships at the Bath Iron Works. A trip to Maine is incomplete without a day at Popham Beach and we often go to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse to remember the jagged rocks where we were almost washed out to sea. And, of course, there’s the writer’s cottage.
During one of my visits, inspiration to start a new book was strong and I needed a place to work. Annie offered me the space of a small, sparse cottage that was basically a one-room kitchen/bunkbed arrangement. It was a perfect spot to write. I set up my computer at the rustic wooden table adjacent to windows facing out toward the water. Each morning I wrote as long as my body was able to stay in a chair, gathering inspiration from the view like herons at low tide, extracting their breakfast from the mud flats. When I needed to move, I’d close up my computer and head out for a walk. My days in the Quaker Point writer’s cottage were among my finest as a writer, and the book that came forth appeared to simply write itself because I showed up.
It’s been years since I crafted words in that small cottage. The cottage seems to have turned into a storage space and it doesn’t look like much writing has taken place there in awhile. Over the years I’ve found other spaces to claim as my “writer’s cottage,” some with exotic views and others in busy urban coffee shops. It would be a gift to have a space like that in which to write every day, although I’ve learned that having a “writer’s cottage” is as much a state of mind as anything. Yes, a daily view of the Maine coast would be delightful in combination with a sparse room free of the usual distractions. Life, however, made different plans for me and I’ve had to create my own landscapes and spaces to find my muse. Those days in the writer’s cottage set a standard for what is necessary to write. Now, wherever I am, I find ways to recreate the feeling and inspiration of that time. Sometimes the inspirations find me, such as a gentle breeze reaching in to illuminate my heart, a gift from the chilly night air.