I went up from New Jersey for a few days with my friend Nancy, at the invitation of our friend Roberta Chester, who owns and operates this kosher B&B. Roberta is a published poet and essayist. When not baking muffins and cakes, cookies and popovers, between phone calls and chores for the B&B, she writes.
We wrote on and off all day Thursday and half the day Friday, and met long after dark on Saturday to share what we were working on. Critiques ensued, then, as a result, more writing. Nicola, from England, had been renting the on-grounds tiny house and had just finished her mystery novel. She joined us and we shared readings and more critiques. The air in Roberta's kitchen was crackling with insights and discussion.
Now I am back home, continuing to work on Home on the Turnpike, which is going into its third revision at least. It is a memoir. It needs changing, from a literal travelogue through the house we grew up in, to a livelier personal memoir. This project is a slow and steady building, now given a boost and cranked up a notch.
The ocean beside the house; the chickadees hanging upside down in a spruce, foraging in pine cones outside my window; the incredible breakfast cake made with lemons and butter; wi fi all over the B&B; the reading, writing and critiquing; all served to calm and focus me as I wrote and wrote. Here is an old-timey sort of poem, extremely traditional in construction in honor of this old-time place, that I wrote for Roberta:
Early Wind In Bar Harbor
The wind in cahoots in the waking of me
With the windowframe loose in my room by the sea
Lets me sleep just enough, my last night here
To almost rest before it re-rattles my ear.
It is not I alone it strives to waken,
My window and all the old others are shaken-
The wind has to try and pry off the leaves
In preparing the shore for its first hard freeze;
No one is spared whose windows are loose.
One hundred and thirty winters of wind
Have rocked at the panes and wood shingle trim
Of this strong-hearted lady the great fire did not eat.
Her windows, in summer, breeze her through heat.
Her blue and white frame, like an August cornflower’s
Persists summercolored November’s rough hours,
Welcomes guests, in season, to stop in her beds,
Who hike the great Park before resting their heads.
Her ladylike pillows are trimmed in white lace.
She reminds me that I am friend, not guest,
Shakes her windows to wake me at the wind’s behest.
I am friend who came here with words to spin,
Invited to write by chatelaine of this inn.
A last few couplets of rhyme for me,
Formal bow to the inn’s propriety,
Mindful of going home this morning-
And now the light over the sea is dawning.