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[dropcap letter=”L”]ast summer, the editors of this beloved magazine asked if I would oversee the April issue, a prospect that elicited only an excited affirmative response from me, a professed Maine lover and well-known extoller of Good Things in Maine. My first visit was in the early 1960s, when, as newly married college students, my husband and I drove to Maine for a week in what we thought would be pure wilderness. Our destination was Mount Desert Island, specifically Acadia National Park. We were traveling without reservations, and the only accommodation available within our modest budget was a “maid’s room” tucked under the narrow eaves of the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor. Despite the discomfort of sharing a twin bed with my very tall husband, I had a wonderful time. We vowed to return to Maine again and again and even discussed the possibility of buying a house, cabin, or camp on MDI.
My husband and I both enjoyed hiking and fresh seafood and looked forward to exploring Maine’s abundant trails and eating at as many lobster pounds as possible. On that first trip, we avidly climbed the most challenging of Acadia’s trails: Beehive, Perpendicular, and Precipice. Giant Slide was fun, as was Penobscot and the Upper Hadlock Pond Trail. I also attempted to see all of the park’s bridges, canoed on its ponds, and slept soundly on Sand Beach.
Throughout our marriage, we explored different parts of Maine, but I lost my heart on that initial trip to Mount Desert. The natural beauty, wilderness, and quiet made it the perfect place for us. Our busy careers in New York did not permit many long vacations, so we settled for one Maine visit each year. For me, those visits halted when our marriage ended and my attention was drawn elsewhere. But not for long.
The moment I laid eyes on Skylands — the famed Edsel Ford estate on Ox Hill in Seal Harbor — in 1999, Maine had me hooked again. It took little more than a week to purchase the 68-acre estate, which has a large main house, guesthouse, carriage house, playhouse with squash and tennis courts, workshops, staff quarters, a six-car garage, stable, and spectacular view. When I told my banker, Jane Heller, of my intention to buy Skylands, she replied, “Martha, most people are happy to come home from Maine with a pair of L.L.Bean boots!”
As a longtime visitor, and now as a 15-year steward of a historic property, I have been thrilled to get to know Maine’s geography, history, and people. And I’m honored to share some of what I love most about the state in this special issue of Down East.