My husband and I were out to dinner last night at one of our favorite local restaurants. It happens to be located in the small downtown area near our local university. On any Saturday night during the school year (and especially on nights when the hockey team is at home) it is a bustling place. So much so that it can sometimes be difficult to hear each other across the table. But things slow down in summer, especially on warm afternoons and early evenings when folks push back their evening meal to enjoy the extra hours of daylight in the beautiful Maine outdoors. As my husband and I enjoyed the first sips of an unfamiliar Zinfindel, we overheard a woman at a neighboring table say, “I definitely want to have a place on some water when I retire.” Don and I looked at each other and smiled, for this is a sentiment that we often expressed back in the days when we were raising our kids and working in the high desert of Southern California. With limited waterfront and relatively high prices, we weren’t sure how we could make that happen. We just knew it was high on our must have list for retirement property.
Defining what type of water (ocean, lake, river, canal, bay, harbor or?) took a bit to ferret out. We started our search in earnest a few years before we were scheduled to retire. We often scheduled our family vacations to places on or near some body of water. Being from a dry desert climate, we were naturally drawn to cooler, moister climates. We checked out available properties in the communities we stayed and enjoyed. As we did we began to get a clearer vision of which type of waterfront would be best suited to our interests and our budget. Oceanfront is without a doubt beautiful and we spent many memorable vacations at the coast. But it is also quite expensive, especially in California. In places where it is generally more affordable, like the Southeast, there is the constant threat of storms, an eroding coastline, and hot, humid weather. We looked at more affordable alternatives like the canals of the Puget Sound or in town condos near the beach in the San Juan Islands. While they had their own appeal, the prettier the location the more crowed they seemed. We even considered living on a river, but the low bank properties that provided easy access for boats and swimming were not without drawbacks. Potential flooding hazards and higher insurance costs made us think twice.
In the end, given our constantly growing flotilla of non-motorized boats, we determined that we wanted to retire to a place that would provide us with easy access to the water. We wanted to be able to use all of these canoes, kayaks, and other small craft at our leisure without have to find a boat launch or to have to carry them great distances. We wanted to be able to swim on warm, sunny days and to sit inside and watch the storms gather over the lake from the warm confines of our living room on the not so nice days. We eventually found our retirement home 3,000 miles away in Central Maine, about an hour from the Atlantic Ocean. The lake is nearly 9 miles long and a couple of miles wide, so even though we have neighbors it rarely feels crowded. Don’s rowing boat (technically a wherry) is anchored just off our dock and my paddle board is in a stand just a few yards from our small beach. Because they are always ready, we use them on a regular basis. Even on days that we aren’t actually on the then water, watching loons, eagles, commerants, ducks, egrets,beavers and other wildlife ply the waters provides added interest to the calming effect of gentle movements of the water. There is something special about having a place on the water and I am so glad that we found a way to make it a reality.