They Dream of Dahlias
When Penny Myles and her husband, Art, moved to Maine from Hingham, Massachusetts, in the middle of a December 2021 ice storm, their prized dahlia tubers — cut, wrapped, and ready to overwinter in their new home’s walkout basement — also made the trip. While some retirees like the idea of sitting out lawn care, Penny was excited to maintain her own gardens, an option at Cumberland Crossing by OceanView, a 55-plus cottage community, in Cumberland.
“It had become obvious that it was time for us to have a simpler life,” Penny says. “We had four bedrooms, almost an acre of land, and lots to take care of.” The couple felt at home in Maine, both because Penny attended summer camp in South Casco and because they had family living here: two of the five children they have between them and six of their 13 grandchildren. During one visit, they noticed a sign for new cottages under construction at Cumberland Crossing and wondered if it could be a good fit. Art itemized everything he wanted, and the couple shared it with Don Wessels, on the Cumberland Crossing sales team. Penny was shocked when Wessels called and said, “I think I have a house that has everything you want.”
Everything they wanted included a two-car garage, a workshop for Art, a quilt space for Penny, a spare bedroom for guests, and space for entertaining. In 2021, the couple hosted their final Thanksgiving in Hingham with 25 guests; in 2022, 15 of those guests joined them for Thanksgiving in Maine.
Earlier in the year, Penny had successfully transferred 15 plants to her new garden beds and so during the dahlia-growing season, some of the Myleses’ friends from Massachusetts came to see the couple’s new living space and, of course, their new gardens. “The dahlias were not nine feet tall, but they were blooming,” Penny says. “My friends said, ‘Penny, it’s like you rooted the dahlias and you’ve rooted yourself.’ And I think there’s some truth to that. I think we’re really feeling connected to where we are now.”
Linda and Sky Grant raised their children in New Jersey and New York before moving to Yarmouth, in 1996. The transition to Cumberland Crossing, in 2021, kept them close to their community and to Chebeague Island, where Sky’s family owns a home. In Yarmouth, the Grants had restored an old farmhouse, and they never liked the idea of moving to an apartment or other multi-unit retirement building. Cumberland Crossing’s custom cottages allowed them to downsize, while still affording them the privacy and independence they preferred. “Friends ask, ‘Do they watch over you all the time? Do they follow you around?’ Of course not!” Linda says. “Here, the staff can help you do all kinds of things, or if you want to do it yourself, fine. I think that’s unusual.”
As one of the first couples to buy in, the Grants chose a lot with a backyard adjacent to the woods and a pond their balcony overlooks. Opting for a walkout basement, they were able to include offices in their floor plan, as well as extra living space, for when family visits. Linda and Sky also appreciated the development’s connection to OceanView, which has both assisted living and memory care facilities, should the day come when they want more support. “We liked the independence from not being on the big campus, as we call it, but still having that satisfaction that we would have a continuum there, if it was necessary,” Linda says. “We hope to only move once, but you never know.”
Because Arlene Handschuch and Steve Kaufman don’t have children, they didn’t feel tied to any one area when deciding to downsize, and they considered retirement communities all up and down the East Coast. When they read that OceanView was starting to build Cumberland Crossing, in 2019, they took it as a sign. “We love either building a house or having it built and being part of the process,” Handschuch says. “There are things that are important to us inside a house — none of them are anything huge, but they are all little things that can drive you crazy if you don’t have them the way you want them.” Among their personal touches: the couple turned a hallway closet into a shelved kitchen pantry and opted for a loft bedroom, to use as a sewing studio for Handschuch, who made her career teaching fashion design.
They moved up from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in May 2020, and the timing initially put a damper on meeting new friends — both because of COVID and because the development was still in its early stages. Luckily, Handschuch says, the construction served as front-porch entertainment, and now that their neighborhood is occupied, they’ve found their friends. But Handschuch still remembers her first impression when they moved in. Opening a window, she was taken aback by the smell of fresh air. “I had to call my husband, and I said, ‘Just stand next to the window and take a deep breath,’” she remembers. “My first experience was this is an up-move rather than a down-move. We have gorgeous air to breathe now — and we haven’t compromised anything.”
To learn more about Cumberland Crossing’s second phase of development, visit cumberlandcrossingrc.com.