Special places. Many of us have them. A childhood neighborhood, a ballpark where Little League games were played, an island community where grandparents resided.

My special place of over 58 years was camp on Rocky Pond in the rural town of Orland.

Camp consisted of a primitive, one-room abode without electricity or plumbing. Most agreeable was the silence, broken only by the sounds of the call of loons, an occasional small-engine motorboat or the laughter of splashing children. Camp life slowed the rhythm of our hard-working farming family. To my siblings and me, camp was our Disneyland.

In 2004 I had the privilege to own a camp on Rocky Pond. Bat houses were put up to gently relocate the resident bats to the outdoors, a wastewater system installed and electricity added provided for elongated nights of reading and sewing.

In time, the dynamics of this special place known as Rocky Pond began to change. Challenges of owning a camp nearly four hours from home increased. Siblings and friends who were once camp companions were busy with their own endeavors. My spouse was less than enamored with making the long trek to a small cabin, spending precious vacation time maintaining a second residence.

The romance of tradition persisted, defying logic. Yet the realities became stronger. My camp-companion mother passed away. Camp became lonely. I put it on the market. I wept during meeting with the Realtor. I sadly shared the news with longtime camp neighbors. I cried on friends’ shoulders.


The pain of my decision lingered, yet lifted to a degree with the purchase of a recreational vehicle. Discoveries of nature trails in Damariscotta, a cornhole-loving crowd in Belfast, a visit to stunning Sebec were all doors that opened in the first spring season without camp. My husband and I found a campground 25 minutes from our home, located on a beautiful lake, complete with loons. Friends living nearby join us for campfires.

In his essay “Compensation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson scolds the reader for holding tightly to places and ways of life. He advises us to be bold enough to bid farewell to the familiar when he writes:

“We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We cannot again find aught so dear, so sweet, so graceful. … we sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty saith, ‘Up and onward for evermore!’ We cannot stay amid the ruins.”

Special places can remain a part of us in our hearts. It behooves us to be open to new adventures. How lucky we are if we meet life’s end with multiple places in our souls that bring us rich feelings of joy and gratefulness.

This is what I hope to teach my children.

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