Well here we are first day of spring, and guess what? It’s the season to book your summer trip to Maine. Itty bitty rental agencies across the coast are turning on the wifi and posting their rentals. Most agencies take half at the time of contract, and half a week or two before your rental, so you can save up if need be.
With that on my mind, I dug up my photos from when we went to Deer Isle last October. Just a few hours north of famous Bar Harbor lies a land of charm and warmth beyond anything I’d encountered before. Deer Isle, a lovely spanning island just one green bridge away from the wonderful little town of Blue Hill. It was magical and we fell in love.
October is when rentals are about as cheap as they get. We are off-season-people who thrive with our sweaters and extra socks, when most things are closed and the nooks are quiet too. But you might want to think about visiting in August. That is true Maine glory time, blueberries, sailing, funny town fairs and no black flies (black fly season is May/June), with open ice cream shops. And just maybe, quite possibly, air that is just hot enough to make that freezing ocean look enticing.
We fell completely in love with the architecture of our rental house. It was a collection of four cabins surrounding one large main building that contained the kitchen and living space. It was the type of place that just grabbed your attention anytime you looked its way. Every perspective of it seemed better than the last. I found myself thinking of the architect constantly–how much thought and planning most had gone into creating such a careful collection.
We had a few days of lovely weather and then it became stormy and rainy for our last few days. We read books, bought the newspaper, and built lots of fire to stay warm in our cabins.
We ate oysters we’d bought on the way up, packaged cinnamon rolls, s’mores, mussels we pulled off rocks on the beach, and fresh bread from Tinder Hearth.
The pathways between the cabins alternated between dirt and stone slabs. The stone became the pathway—moss-covered and a little precarious. I didn’t pack the right shoes, so in the evening when I walked the girls over to the cabin to put them to bed, and then when I went back again to check on them, I would wear my slippers. The slippers soaked up water from the wet moss. So then I just went barefoot.
^Our friend David came up with us for a few days and built this blanket fort for the girls.
Just before we arrived at our rental the first night, we stopped by the Blue Hill Wine Shop. Shop of dreams! They made coffee in the morning, sold fresh bread, cheeses, salamis, and tons of beautifully affordable wines. They had wonderful front porch for watching the sunset and it was clearly a hub of love and conversation.
With all the enormous windows lining the main house, we couldn’t help but stare at the layers of ocean, then granite, then trees. Blue, stone, green. It was the most soothing sight.
Joe took outdoor showers in the freezing October rain. He promised me they were wonderful and warm despite the pummeling rain. It seemed unfathomable to me that was true, so I would watch from the window. The mist from the cold rain hitting the warm shower water seemed pick him up onto a cloud. By chance, he was reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin at the time and told me about Franklin’s daily naked “wind showers,” with admiration.
We took walks down to the damp shore, the girls delighting in collecting snail shells and stepping on the spongy seaweed. Often we would see lobster boats drive by to check on their traps. Thousands of cracked mussel shells mixed into the rocks and brightened the beach.
One morning David stayed with the girls at the house while Joe and I drove off to find 44 North Coffee. In the upstairs of a once stately building on a quiet island road, lies a coffee roaster. 44 North, with a jar of triangle donuts by the door, sold on the honor system. Their coffee is meticulous pour-over. Their coffee bags are hand drawn cartoons and nearly collectible. Joe and I brought donuts back for the girls and a big bag of coffee for the cottage.
It was the off season, yet it felt as if many things were open. Guided by our gps off the island and into quiet backwoods, we found Tinder Hearth Pizza. It was elegantly gourmet in a wood hewn way.The only time we saw a sign for the spot was when we finally pulled in front of the house. A table was stacked with plates, silverware and mismatched glassware. In the front of the room was an enormous brick pizza oven emanating a delicious smell. On “pizza nights” (best checked via Facebook) they welcome people inside to sit and eat. And during the summer, everyone comes to eat and sprawl on their back lawn! We watched as couples came in and picked up their pizzas to go, but all the families who stopped by sat down at the community table. In no time we had friendly local faces on all sides of us. It’s also BYOB which is the best—pulling out the great bottle you’ve picked out, with no upscaled prices.
^ A #momlife travel moment for me. I envisioned us serenely draped across the boat watching the waves fly by, learning about the wildlife. Naturally everyone wanted to sit on my lap at the same time and I couldn’t hear a word. : )
A few affordable rentals in the area for this summer that caught my eye while internet-hunting: a darling studio cottage for $495/wk, a cozy two-bedroom in Brooksville for $1150/wk, a rustic waterfront with a lovely dock for $1045/wk, and a modern two bedroom in Stonington for $1200/wk. And a pleasantly rustic spot on Deer Isle for $685/wk. All prices listed in August rates; other months are cheaper.
The house we stayed at last year is The Sunshine House.
I didn’t have much luck on airbnb.com for this area, Downeast Maine Rental Agency seemed to have the best spots.