And summer did end as we arrived in Old Orchard Beach a few late-Septembers ago. It ran out on us while we driving up route 95 from Boston and broiling in an hour-long traffic jam caused by roadworks just north of Saco. The late summer sun bore down, dust clouds from fleets of excavators blew up, the young woman engineer yelled above the din of men and machinery, and we crawled along, inch by inch, praying for the turn to Ocean Park, our actual destination. Cousin Jan had driven down from her alpaca farm in Richmond, taking a swift ‘time out’ between alpaca babe deliveries. She would be waiting for us at her beach cottage to hand over the keys. We would be staying there for the next week before driving on to the farm.
Praying is of course apt behaviour for Ocean Park. The community has its origins in 1881 when the Free Will Baptists founded a family summer resort there with the object (then and now) of providing “opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal (in) a non-denominational, interfaith setting”. The Tabernacle Temple meeting hall, among the pines and maples, is still there and much used. And, in keeping with its reflective origins, the surrounding settlement is sedately picturesque: tree-lined lanes, genteel small hotels, boarding houses, and homes, both holiday and residential. The local people we met there were mostly retired, perhaps a touch eccentric, and often with English connections.
Two miles along the ocean front, Old Orchard Beach could not be more different, the coastal strip lined with down-scale boarding houses, motels and fast food kiosks, all the fun of the pier – a mass of holidaying humanity. Except it wasn’t when we walked there on our first morning. The sky and sea were grey, streets were uncannily empty, tourist shops and the funfair already wrapped up for the winter. So soon! we said.
Summer was definitely done. It was thus a huge relief to find a coffee shop that was still alive and ready to serve us, and it was while we were drinking our take-aways at a table outside that I spotted the header mural on the side of a house wall beside an empty lot. Some of you will have seen it before, but I thought it was just the thing for a pink square reprise – a piece of high summer out of time, a girl forever having fun beside the sea.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
In the Pink #9 Today Becky’s taken flight – up, up and away.