Up to now the story of our path of deciding to purchase coastal property on Deer Isle in Maine sounds relatively reasonable if impulsive. However at this point I have to cop to being a city slicker who had absolutely no idea what she was getting into and was certainly not prepared on even the most basic of levels.
For instance there was the question of being appropriately dressed for hiking around the Maine wilderness. I decided rather than bring a large suitcase that would have to be checked at the airline , I would pack very light and only bring a pair of jeans, several sweaters, a long suede skirt, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of dressy pair of boots. I may have looked quite fashionable but within a day of walking through the woods with snow up to my waist, my one pair of jeans and sneakers were hopelessly wet. I tried drying them by the woodstove in our room at the inn but this wasn’t successful and the second day I was forced to wear my skirt and dress boots. There’s nothing like hiking around acres of the forest after a snowstorm, legs enclosed in leather that would never be the same, stride obstructed by the A-line skirt, and ice packed in areas that are best left to the imagination.
What was I thinking? It’s hard to defend this level of stupidity. I suppose I was thinking that we would have paths and sidewalks like those of New Jersey. I had absolutely no clue what I was dealing with. It wasn’t as if I could just stop by Macy’s or Sears as there were no department stores on the island or within a reasonable distance. For that matter, it was our first experience with a town that almost completely closed up once the tourists were gone. There were only two restaurants on the island that stayed open all year and none of the interesting looking shops. It felt somewhat like an icy ghost town.
Nevertheless the scenery was enchanting and I’m stubborn – we had come to Maine to see property and I was absolutely determined to suck it up and get on with our plans despite worrying about a frost bitten behind.
We first visited several pieces of property that were for sale by owner. Here too I found that I was hopelessly naïve. For instance after stumbling along in my inappropriate clothes for some time I finally asked the owner where was the stream or river we could row to the ocean from? Puzzled he replied that there was no such water source on the land. I countered that he had advertised it as such. He started laughing so hard that tears were running down his face. When he finally gained composure he explained that ROW was an abbreviation for “right of way” and this meant we would be able to walk through his land to the ocean. I felt like the most ignorant educated person alive!
We looked at several pieces of property during this week and met a number of people. It was during this trip that we first met Brian and Heidi Burgess, owners of the building and contracting company B.K. Burgess. They had a piece of property that intrigued us but was too close (for our tastes) to the main road that encircles the island. We sat in their home office, admiring the house Brian had built for his own family and their company album of a number of other houses he had constructed. This young couple was engaging, open, funny, resourceful, and obviously hardworking. I recall walking out of their house and remarking to Bob that I didn’t think we would purchase their land but I thought we had found our builder. We mentioned Brian to several people on the island and everyone concurred that he was one of the best and most honest in this part of Maine. His reputation was impeccable and well deserved. We have never regretted this impetuous decision.
Finally Richard Smithson of Downeast Properties took us way down Sunshine Road, over a couple of causeways that separated the ocean and provided spectacular views of the icy water, finally stopping near the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts to 4 acres of land with approximately 340 feet of oceanfront. I gushed about the crystalline splendor of the area and Richard in laconic New Englander fashion responded that if I thought it looked good now, I should return in the summer.
We had to park at the top of the hill of this steeply sloped property through the snow on the unplowed dirt road to the small tidal cove. It didn’t have the bold front ocean that we had imagined when we first considered purchasing land here but it stole our hearts. Richard still tells of the frigid day that a crazy redhead convinced him to hike up and down 4 acres of deeply snow covered land, exploring all property boundaries and listening to her prattle about the huge boulders of granite and the magical qualities of the forest there.
Intuitively we knew this was the place. Bob pictured launching kayaks from the shore. I envisioned a little garden and watching the wildlife visit the flats. There was no need to look further. We cancelled our other appointments and told Richard that we wanted to start negotiating for the property.