In a Flash of Iridescent Feathers, We Say ‘Welcome Home’

We’ve been waiting for the news.

Each year, it seems, as we prepare to open Spruce Point Inn for the season, word reaches us that the hummingbirds are on their way North.

They, more than the robins or yellow plumage of the goldfinches, or green haze in the canopy of hardwoods, are our signal that it’s time to put out the welcome mat. Soon – the end of this week, in fact – cars will start heading up Grandview Avenue with license plates “from away.”

The uncertainties of winter have receded (and we’ve finally put the snow shovels away – a superstitious ritual best practiced after Easter here on the Midcoast. Sooner and you risk a late snow on the lilacs.) Conventional wisdom as dispersed in the feed store is “don’t set out the perennials until the last danger of frost has passed” which, here in Boothbay, means Memorial Day. Those crimson geraniums are an early sign of defiance though the day is meant for solemn parades, decorating the memorials and remembrance in the ancient stone garden on the hill.

After more than a hundred years of welcoming travelers, we know that the end of May and early June are when the regulars appear. The residents on Spruce Point whose houses have been shuttered for the winter pop in to see us, to check out the new menu in 88 and share a drink at the bar in Bogie’s before heading back to the house or the boatyard and the annual rituals of the Season. Right behind them come the generations who have made “the secret season” one to cherish – when the mists of spring rise from the sea and the very air seems painted with a wash of green. With Mother’s Day behind and Father’s Day ahead, there is always news of weddings, graduations and new babies – all reasons for creating new “oceanside memories made in Maine.”

They – you – like the hummingbirds, are the ones we watch for to be certain of another year of magic – wonder spun by a flash of sunlight on iridescent feathers or the sounds of familiar footsteps on the front stairs.

In France, on the third Thursday in November, with the release of the effervescent bottling of Beaujolais Nouveau, the French say, “Beaujolais est arrivé.”

Here, we say to guests and hummingbirds alike, “Welcome home.”