The ad was irresistible. "An Island in Time," it said. A great old ark of a hotel on Monhegan Island off Maine. The smell of pine and salt and woodsmoke. Reading on the broad porch. Starry nights. Peace. Lobsters.
We lived in California then but were planning to visit family in New England anyway. So we arranged to spend a heavenly week vegetating at the Island Inn. We looked forward to it for weeks, and especially during the four-hour ferry trip from Boothbay Harbor.
And suddenly, there it all was: the little harbor with weathered shingle boathouses festooned in nets and lobster traps, the classic many-windowed facade, creaking porch steps, a sleepy lobby with a sooty granite fireplace and a ponderously ticking clock, a tiny room smelling of lavender.
At the back. We had hoped to be overlooking the water. Sorry, we were told, the front rooms are taken. Oh well.
The afternoon was beautiful. A stroll in a forest of fiddlehead ferns, up mossy crags, adown titanic glooms. Nice and cool. A salt breeze. Steak for dinner--tomorrow we'd splurge on the lobster. We hadn't had true lobster for six years.
And that night the fog swept in. And the foghorn started. BAWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Ringing silence. BAWWWWWWWWWWWW. Ringing silence. BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Right over our heads. Ten seconds on, 20 seconds off.
We called the desk. Oh yes, it will be going all night. A real bad fog. Another room? Sorry.
Besides, the other rooms could hardly be any better. The building was like a vast cello.
The horn quit about 6. Breakfast was at 7 sharp. We learned we would have to wait two days for the next ferry out.
That night we took early dinner. The fog was gathering again. Oh well, at least we'll have--
"Oh, didn't you know? Why, this is the breeding season for lobster on Monhegan. You can't get lobster for three weeks yet . . ."
In an anthology of "Bummer Vacations" in the Aug. 14 Style section, a description of a vacation at the Island Inn, Monhegan, Maine, was drawn from a 1957 experience. It was not intended to relate in any way to the present-day management or appointments of the inn. The Post regrets any inconvenience incurred by the current owners.