A heavy early morning breeze rustles through the thick row of maple trees at the edge of the inn’s back lawn. Dense and stifling heat and humidity are predicted for today. It’s pleasant here on the balcony outside the Kensington Room, watching as the morning light cuts through the leaves and the light fog over West Penobscot Bay burns off.
The Norumbega Inn, a stone castle about a mile outside of Camden proper, was built in 1886 by Joseph Stearns. Stearns, born in the Western Maine town of Weld, invented the duplex telegraph. He sold this invention to Western Union. After traveling through Europe, he bought a parcel of land in Camden (a place he allegedly considered to be the most beautiful place he ever visited). On his Camden parcel, he built a castle that consequently remained a private residence for 100 years. The National Historic Registry nomination form says Norumbega, “with its fine architecture and outstanding location remains one of Maine’s” outstanding examples “of the great cottage villas which dotted the Maine coast in the heyday of the Victorian leisure class.”
I have always wanted to stay in this castle; feeling bad in Maine and a need to escape the Moxie hangover brought me here.
I’ve been home in Maine for almost six years now. In that time, I’ve reflected on E.B. White’s quote “I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” I’m curious as to White’s context when he wrote this, but a quick internet browse reveals little. White was a bit of a hypochondriac; maybe that was the genesis of the quote. I’ll find it someday, should I choose to study White’s writings in my spare time.
But I can understand the sentiment and as I left the epicenter of the Moxie universe on Friday afternoon and quickly slipped over the Sagadahoc Bridge into Woolwich, I marveled at how lucky I was to be only a few miles from the heavenly realms of the Maine coast.
How lucky am I, really? Feeling like shit about a knife in my heart and yet here I am sitting on the balcony of a stone castle. Breakfast is at 8:00 a.m. and I can smell some early preparations wafting up from the kitchen.
I have been richly blessed, beyond my wildest imaginings. And so I sing in chorus with E.B. White:
“I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.”