New Place, Familiar Feeling

October 20, 2015

Both of my parents grew up in Maine. My father was born there in the small town of Farmington Falls, and my mother moved to the capital, Augusta, with her family when she was seven.

They have both long since left the state behind, but when I was growing up our family would make our yearly summer pilgrimage to the modestly Protestant cabin that had once been my grandparents’. My dad’s extended family is now almost entirely gone, but my mother’s is quite the opposite. Born one of 12, she had the distinct pleasure of being the oldest girl, with four older brothers to give her grief and a host of younger kids to give her just the same. Nearly all of the 12 siblings had children, and now those children are beginning to have some of their own.

Growing up in southeast Pennsylvania, there were two primary reasons to visit Vacationland to get our annual taste of “The Way Life Should Be.” The first was to be surrounded by family, and the second was to connect with the small, quiet places that grow in abundance along the coast and heart of the Northeast. Since moving west from the Mid-Atlantic, my girlfriend and I haven’t been able to return to those people and places nearly as regularly as we would prefer. Recently, we had the chance to leave the Twin Cities in the rearview and experience something quite familiar among the unknown.

Bayfield, Wisc. is an quaint little town perched on the Superior coast just southwest of the Apostle Islands. This past weekend, Melissa and I packed our things and took our tiny family through the rolling hills of Wisconsin expecting to find something entirely unfamiliar. What we discovered was quite the opposite. The town and the vistas were certainly new to us, but the feelings they stirred couldn’t have been more familiar. In the two and a half years since we moved to Minnesota, this idyllic harbor town sheltered by a biblical archipelago felt more comfortable than nearly anything else we’ve known.

If you’ve never been to Maine, you should go. If a trip to the Northeast isn’t in the cards, then you should visit Bayfield. You’ll be glad you did.

The view of Bayfield from aboard the Madeline Island ferry.

The view of Bayfield from aboard the Madeline Island ferry.