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Bringing out Boothbay, to not just Look but really See

We read about a frequent visitor to the Harvard Art Museums who for more than 30 years has made the seemingly unusual request that their curators bring out art objects he wishes to look at. Actually, it’s standard procedure for art museums at colleges whose facilities are primarily used as teaching museums to do this. The newly renovated and expanded Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth incorporated three classroom with high ceilings and wide doors specifically for use by professors wishing to bring the art to their students as well as students to the art.

And so, the man at Harvard, who is not an alumnus, but who has embarked on a lifelong effort to teach himself “to not just look, but really see.”

He reminded us of our dad. Maybe because Father’s Day approaches and Spruce Point Inn has many reservations on the books for dinners, breakfasts and weekend stays with extended families and reunions in celebration of fathers from near and far.

And maybe we learned how to help curate “oceanside memories made in Maine” by learning how to see beyond what we were looking at while listening to him. To think about why he saved the newspaper the day man walked on the moon. And why he had that lifelong student’s love of books that looked at his interests – mountains, space, oceans and the unexplained oddities of the universe – more closely.

What we remember is he taught us to look up. Long before it became necessary to seek out dark sky sites he led us to Orion and the Milky Way from our front lawn. It’s a memory inextricably linked with sparklers, lightning bugs and the highway flares he lit as family fireworks. Tucked in the pages of memory alongside the snow forts he built and the day he skied down to the dairy after a blizzard closed the road. The day the sun came out in the middle of the hurricane and he warned us not to be fooled by the eye.

Yes, he was a scientist exploring the mysteries of the universe while teaching us, children, not to be beguiled by the calm at the center of the storm.

Spruce Point reminds us of the beaches and his little Sunfish, launched in a sheltered bay for surveying what we might find beneath the surface of the waves. The surprise of coming out from a summer vacation dinner to discover a still-bright horizon and the remains of the warmth of the day, just as a walk back from dinner in 88 holds now. How every now and then he’d see something in a shop like the places on Townsend Avenue best suited to one particular child and not for sharing among all of us. How mutual admiration grew from learning to see the logic that extended beyond the passing glance.

We know the oceanside memories made today at Spruce Point Inn by children and their fathers last lifetimes. All of us in Boothbay know.  And that’s why we protect and preserve what happens when children look up at stars or out to sea; because here in this special place, eyes open to the possibilities. And why when those once-children bring their own children back to the “teaching museum” of Mid-coast Maine, we bring out the best to teach them “not just to look, but to really see.”