Maine in My Mind

Thea today, with apologies again for being unable posting last week, and thinking how I’ve written a fair amount about how Maine has changed for me with the loss of family, neighbors and friends.

Curiously, I’ve only written one book set wholly in Maine, a Harlequin Blaze: Night Moves, even though we’ve been summering there for as long as we’ve been married, and John since he was a teenager.

In fact, one of the first things John asked me shortly after we met was, do you want to go to Maine with me?

I was a city girl, born in Brooklyn, living in Newark at the time. What did I know about Maine?

I came to Maine shortly after sunrise on a cool August morning where, on the Kittery Bridge, the temperature dropped another ten degrees as we crossed the state line. We’d driven all night and we had another two hours to go to get to the family camp on a lake in southwestern Maine. I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a cabin with a full living room and wood stove, a bedroom, a bunk room, bathroom, kitchen, electric and running water, and a screened porch that overlooked a lake.

All these years we’ve gone there, weeks and months at a time, with kids, family, friends, dogs, cats, alone. We’ve picnicked, antiqued, swam and canoed in the local lakes, gone to every local fair — imagine my youngest son, city-born and street-wise, chosen to compete in a pig scramble at one of those country fairs — and I’ve written good portions of several books up there at the little desk overlooking the lake that my husband rigged up for me on the porch.

I’ve loved it there in years past. What I especially loved was how time stretched. That everything had a pace and an hour, and that anything that needed to be done got done by four p.m., so we could sit on the porch and inhale the peace, the quiet, the calm, and just talk. Or not.

You might ask why we never moved there. I have no answer — we thought about it for years, we think about it still. I corresponded for many years with Mabel, our neighbor up the road before she died. She wrote wonderful stream-of-conscious letters about life in Maine during the winter. They kept Maine my mind and heart when I couldn’t be there.

I imagined living there. I thought about my characters living there, I dreamt up mysteries that haunted the woods behind our house, monsters that lived in the lake, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dotted the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who were local, hard-bitten and wise.

And sweet sultry romance in a place where time moved slower, the air was clear, the water sparkled, where neighbors were always ready to help, and where, forty-seven years after the fact, people still know your name.

And maybe, after all these years, just maybe that’s enough.

What about you? Do you have a place out of mind where you love to go and might want to live? Have you ever acted on that desire?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romances. She’s the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances, and a dozen novellas. Her sequel to The Darkest Heart (June 2011), Beyond the Night, will be a Pocket Star release February 2014. She is a Romantic Times Romance Pioneer honoree.

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3 thoughts on “Maine in My Mind”

  1. Sounds like heaven to me, Thea! I love Maine. We camped there often growing up. We used to know folks up in Bangor–a crusty old lobster fisherman and his wife who lived in a trailer house on a bluff with a rickety set of steps leading down to the beach. I would lay on that bluff for hours looking out over the ocean with my brother, making up all sorts of stories even then. My sister lives up in Millinocket now, which is a 6-8 hour drive for me so I’ve only been a couple of times, but it is God’s country to be sure. She and her guy are nature photographers and have a lovely gallery there, featuring some fabulous “Moose Prints”, which is the name of their gallery. It’s an amazingly laid back lifestyle up there! Last time I went, we sat for hours out on the lake in our kayaks watching moose mamas teach their young to swim!

    I often take a drive up route 1 to Kittery and points north when I’m longing for the beauty of the jagged coastline. I’m a die hard New Englander and a country girl at heart, so Maine would be right up my alley for a go-to escape, but the winters are pretty brutal which, as I’ve gotten older, is less appealing. If I run away or move to another state, I’m thinking Northern California or Southern Oregon would be my locale of choice. A cabin on a lake would be perfect!

    1. You describe the iconic Maine, Paula. And we still talk about relocating. A laid back lifestyle has always sounded good to me. But then there’s that NY thing — being too far away from Manhattan. Ridgefield is about just right.

      thea

  2. I lived in Maine my entire life until 2009, when my daughters and I moved to Massachusetts to be with the man who is now my husband. Some parts of the state are truly beautiful; some, not so much. But I think the same is true everywhere.

    I haven’t set many books there, or at least not that identify Maine specifically as the setting, because to me it’s where I always lived and I have a hard time seeing it as a setting for a story. On the other hand, I should probably do something about that…

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