Read Roberta's reflections on the Bar Harbor bed and breakfast experience. The following items are included in the forthcoming collection by Roberta Chester called “Be My Guest: The Inside Story of a B & B in Maine.”
“News and Notes 2017”
The 2017 season was particularly enjoyable for me due to the presence of a remarkable woman with whose presence I was blessed for two weeks while she was writing a book in which the Shore Path Cottage was a major character. Her name is Keller Freeman and if you are reading this latest edition of my News and Notes, you are in the privileged position of being the first to hear about “A Summer in Eden” by Keller Freeman, a story for young adults about a 13 year old girl who vacations in the 1890’s in Bar Harbor at the Shore Path Cottage, shortly after it was actually built. Of course, like a proud mom, I am delighted that my “baby” is achieving a well-deserved bit of stardom.
Every morning she would greet me as “my precious” and we would proceed to our sunlit corner of the breakfast table. My own mother may have thought it but never greeted me so lovingly. After breakfast, while she was secluded in Roberta’s Room (at the same desk where I wrote for many years while the children were asleep), I never saw Keller for the rest of the day, but our talk at breakfast left me with a glow that lasted for hours. At my age, it is actually a comfort to meet someone, older even than I am, who several years past 80, is incredibly vibrant and young in every way. I do believe that Keller’s creativity, with which she is blessed of an enormous amount, accounts for her amazing vitality. All this in addition to her southern charm and gentility, and I was totally captivated.
Towards the end of her stay with us, I scheduled a poetry reading on the lawn and watched Keller charm the audience as she accompanied each poem with delightful commentary. Clearly the other two readers, myself included, were clearly upstaged. I can’t speak for Dell Seronde (the other reader), but rather than feeling resentful, I just enjoyed basking in Keller's reflected admiration. From our recent correspondence, Keller wrote that “A Summer in Eden” is undergoing a final edit before being sent to the printer. I am hoping to have signed copies available for our guests.
Keller may not be staying with us in the 2018 season but assuming she is on the island, I am hoping that she and I can begin working on a project we briefly discussed last summer. These very many years, I have had the pleasure of an ongoing relationship with prior guests. Keller’s book will have been finished and she will no longer need the on-site inspiration for a “Summer in Eden” so I highly doubt that I’ll ever have another guest who greets me so lovingly.
We did, however, resolve to work on a project that would restore the Shore Path to better approximate its original length in 1880, the year it was designated as a public walkway (coincidentally the year our house was built). The path is open at the discretion of the owners whose property extends to the high water mark, and successive owners have unfortunately shortened the path with gates and “No Trespassing” signs. Sensitive to the incredible beauty of the Shore Path and the obligation to allow the public to enjoy this scenic treasure, Bar Harbor’s “founding fathers” created this public walkway with the understanding the very fortunate owners of property on the path would perpetuate this tradition. When we first came to Bar Harbor, we could walk almost to Compass Harbor and over the years I have been disappointed that the owners have exercised their discretion to shorten the path at their property line.
Much as I am excited by this project, working with Keller, on anything, will certainly be a labor of love. I hope that our future includes many “my precious” breakfasts and walks together along this hopefully longer natural resource.
- Roberta Chester, 2017