Down East 2013 ©
My office at Down East is on the third floor of the building, or the fourth if you count the basement, as some people here do. There are windows on three sides so I always have natural light even on the rainiest of days. When the wind blows off the ocean, the walls rattle, and I feel as if I am on a storm-tossed schooner out in the Gulf of Maine.
Like many Americans, I spend too much time in the office. But I’ve been fortunate to find a workplace that represents so much of the history and culture I appreciate about Maine. A long time ago, this building was a mansion named Roxmont. There used to be vast lawns rolling down to the ocean, and even now the back offices look out across treetops and rooftops to a hazy line of blue in the middle distance. The family who owned Roxmont kept a string of polo ponies, just like Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, and the memory of the horses continues to haunt the property. The carriage house is filled now with boxes of magazines and books, but there are still drains in the floor from the days when grooms use to scrub down the horses after long drives.
My office is at the front of the building; my view is of the flowerbeds and Route 1. As is always the case this time of year, traffic is increasing with each passing day. The intervals between cars grow shorter and shorter until the noise is a steady rumble that I no longer hear. In the summer, I sometimes glance down at the parking lot and see a man or woman standing on the lawn, taking a picture of Roxmont. I wonder how many snapshots show my tiny, smiling face looking out.
One of my windows is a skylight that tilts open if you give it a good yank. In the fall, ladybugs invade my office in peaceful swarms and cluster on the glass. They look like they want to escape, but I know that they are just looking for someplace warm to spend the winter. In the summer, my skylight brings me glimpses of the undersides of eagles and the constant chatter of gulls, which is perhaps my favorite sound in the natural world.
So many people would move to Maine if only they could figure out how to earn a living. I know I am one of the lucky ones, not just because I am employed, but because I am reminded every day why I made my choice.