We were introduced to Waterboro when we came to the camp on Ossipee Lake with our best friends when our babies were toddlers. (The toddlers are now getting married.)
Camp Cozy is the tiniest little wooden cabin with minuscule 3-little-bear beds in a rooftop room, and teeny kitchen cupboards to hold all manner of summer fare – marshmallows and graham crackers, cheese doodles, red licorice.
In the early days, there was an outhouse at the camp.
The view from Camp Cozy and the lake itself are pristine – quintessential small-town Maine, with a neighbors’ boat parade on the 4th of July, an abundance of neighborly connection.
The Big White Farmhouse, where Gram Carpenter lived, is about a mile from Camp Cozy.
The Carpenters lived summer + winter at their two magical abodes just up (or down) the road from one another in Waterboro.
The first time we came to the farmhouse was the most beautiful early-spring day with sunshine and a light breeze up on the hill, overlooking the White Mountains in the distance. Spring….when all feels full of promise.
I can remember that day like it was yesterday….although it was nearly a quarter century ago.
We’d all come with our toddlers so the men could put the dock in at Camp Cozy that Memorial Day weekend. To thank them, Gram made an old-fashioned baked ham lunch with all the fixings – mashed potatoes, home-made biscuits, carrots.
In spring windbreakers, the kiddos played on the metal swing set and ran helter-skelter across the lawn. Buddy rode on a plastic John Deere tractor. They were so joyful!
And so were we.
And so was Gram, sitting on the front porch watching us all, her smile always a mile wide, and her blue eyes sparkling.
Gram had been a school teacher back-in-the-day, and I can bet she was a good one. The sweet kind of teacher whom you want to have in your presence, showing you the way with patience, love and kindness.
The way a teacher should be.
Over the many years since then, the family has spruced up Camp Cozy, now with an in-door bathroom, adorable checked curtains, new paint.
They own their own boat, rubber floats, a hammock tied to two trees on the front lawn where we each can lie down and watch the undulation of the waves on the lake.
And now that Gram Carpenter has passed away (but not until she was 100 years old), the family has stripped the farmhouse of layers of wall paper and vinyl linoleum to bring it back to its earliest days, its roots.
Because today’s family so values their humble family’s history at this special place.
The kids made it into a “family” bed + breakfast so that extended family members have a place to stay when they visit Maine for weeks in the summer and over the holidays.
There’s a tiny back staircase in the farmhouse leading directly into a bedroom. There’s a formal front sitting room with gorgeous, ample crown molding, and a cozy middle living room with a woodstove.
There’s a big country kitchen table and a washing machine in the kitchen. There’s a back shed attached to the kitchen – where we store extra cold food at our Autumn girls weekend.
It was the girls weekend that brought me back. Twenty-five years later.
I carried my Nikon.
I paused on the flat Stephen-King-Pet-Cemetery road that passed just in front of the farmhouse.
I snapped shots of the dilapidated red shed, the mysterious stone angel with the broken wing on the spot where the old barn was, the colorful Autumn trees down the hill, and New Hampshire looming in the distance.
It was raining….gently.
The wet only intensified the beauty of this landscape, the earthy smell of fall in the country.
Standing out in the rain, I didn’t even feel it.
I was taken away. Back in time. To the time that was.
When our kiddos were little; when marriages were new; when Gram was alive.
I woke in the bunk room the next morning, after an evening with my life-long girlfriends, making holiday wreaths with boughs from the land, playing games, laughing heartily. I lay deep and snugly in the most comfortable twin bed, swept away, feeling only peace and love.
The Big White Farmhouse has a way of doing that to you. Sweeping you away….in all its humble, heartwarming, simple beauty.
It revived me….just like it did twenty-five years ago.
I wonder if I might be able to visit again in a little shorter time frame?
I will go, happily, whenever I’m invited.
And I will leave, as all 21st century visitors do, feeling grateful and full.