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Lights in the December Dark

It’s December – already! (or as most children I know would say, “Finally!”) – and the signs of the season surround us. This morning the temperature has returned to more traditional latitudes after a brief flirt with warmth (and a welcome environment for our ongoing work to button up Spruce Point Inn for the winter.)

But now we are afforded the opportunity to observe the blossoming of the holidays as light displays blink on around us on the drive from Grandview Avenue on home.

Boothbay Harbor is celebrating the Boothbay Festival of Lights, with the advice to “Shop. Dine. Sparkle.” And the centerpiece and inspiration for those festivities is “Gardens Aglow” at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

While many of us were looking inward at the jobs to be done in the quiet, ‘off-season;’ the Gardens were looking outward, imagining a magical landscape (as always) and creating their own field of dreams. “Who would see it?” the doubters asked. “If we build it they will come,” the wise man said. And so they did – thousands of locals and day-trippers came to walk the grounds, literally aglow with 360,000 multi-colored lights.

So to take our place in support of the Boothbay Festival of Lights we offer a tour for all of our extended friends and family who know Boothbay well from summer visits. No ticket required. No cold walks. Just your imagination and mind’s eye.

First we bring you dawn on the ocean-ward horizon, looking east over the harbor, where the sky meets the sea in light that ranges from the most intense gold, through a blushing crimson, to purple-y blue as the heavens greet the day.

As the sun rises, the faces of the shore step into the chorus. Burnt Island Light turns golden. The spruces seem topped by invisible stars that pour honeyed light into their green tips.

In the forest, along the Wabanaki Trail, a mist of pale green light fills in the shadows, and rays of filtered gold move like the First Nations’ ancestors through the trees, hastening to the work of the morning and silently greeting deer and moose.

As you pass through this display of ‘oceanside memories made in Maine,’ turn back toward the water and watch wavelets pattern the blues: deep sparkling sapphire, translucent aquamarine where the ocean meets the shoreline, Navy blue-grey that salutes generations of sailors and lobstermen going down to the sea in their ships, and the quiet blue of restfulness.

In the heat of an August noon, watch the sun through closed eyelids to find the deep red of warmth that fuels your well-being and seeps traditions and family ties through your veins. You’re awakened when your lobster is set before you on an umbrella’ed table at Deck. There is no red that seems to glow from within, shading from deepest burgundy to pale pink. (Or was that a glass of Cellardoor rose catching the sun?)

Walk the grounds of Spruce Point Inn in your memory, discovering colors you forgot you noticed as you pass. Like the holiday décor unknown neighbors place on their grounds – even single, lighted firs in an open field – these are unexpected surprises. Like a rising moon. Or a meteor. The sudden surprise of delight and then recognition brings home the reason we take time to celebrate. We all have gardens aglow landscaping the territory our lives take us through. Lights in the darkness you never knew were there.