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 2020”
Every season at the B & B seems to have a personality all its own; one summer we had many mothers and daughters, another, lots of sisters traveling together, another a season in which we hosted more than the usual number of Europeans. Each group creates its own ambiance and energy which is just one of the reasons why having a B & B is always interesting, especially if you’re a people person, a characteristic that is de rigueur for the job description.
However, the 2020 season was completely different and without precedent. Except for a few family members visiting the house, the Shore Path never emerged from winter hibernation mode. We never experienced the mad, but wonderful rush in early May of getting the house in shape for the first guests, the feeling of anticipation as we placed a brand new guest book on the desk in the hall, knowing it will begin to fill with wonderful memories of the people we’ve met, planting our window boxes with a different combination of flowers and adding new recipes from those we collect during the winter to our repertoire.
Given the difficulties of complying with the state-mandated requirements due to covid, we felt it was just too difficult to open. Social distancing, the impossibility of serving a buffet breakfast, the regulations for cleaning between guests seemed too overwhelming. For me, personally, as I am in a high-risk category, traveling back to Maine from overseas meant taking a chance I felt it unwise to take.
Not that I wasn’t tempted. My family became permanent residents of Maine in 1977 (after four years of being summer residents in the same house which is now our B & B) and in all those years, I never missed a summer in Bar Harbor. In 1997 when I was caring for my mother, I could only get away for a week, but I managed to get back, if only to put my feet in Bar Harbor, walking across the lawn to the Shore Path. As I write these words, I realize how much I missed the lilacs in the Spring, the peonies in June, the cardinal who nests outside our kitchen window, our growing crop of raspberries and the foliage in Autumn when the air is infused with the tangy fragrance of Fall.
Now I think of 2020 simply and sadly as the season that wasn’t. We missed meeting with our many returning guests and our new guests, so many of whom become friends. I am sure that our playful, often mischievous ghost, whom I have written about in these pages, was lonely and bored. I so regret not having had the pleasure of experiencing the absence of cruise ships in our “front yard” and am excited about the prospect of going back to Bar Harbor and advocating for small ships and less frequent visits.
Yes, I and my family are so looking forward to the 2021 season, and we are aching to get back to our beautiful 1880 home and assess what needs doing because we love working on the house. I am so looking forward to hearing the familiar creak as I step on a certain spot in the hall, the sun coming through the dining room window at 7 a.m. while the coffee is brewing, walking across the lawn down to the shore path at night listening to waves over the rocks at the end of a wonderfully busy day, and certainly meeting all of you.
Let’s hope that next year we can see each other smile, sit as close to each other as we wish, and hug each other with abandon, and that every season henceforth will be the season that is.
- Roberta Chester, 2020