Off season in Ogunquit, Maine

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It is the Easter weekend and we have headed for the coast. Despite the fact that lawn signs advertise Egg Drops and oversized bunnies are posing for photographs in shopping malls, the seaside resort of Ogunquit, just north of the New Hampshire border, has a decidedly off-season feel to it. Many of the motels, inns and hotels are not yet open for the season, and the little trolley bus that travels around the town and its neighbouring resorts will not emerge from the garage for another month or so. Still, as we follow the Marginal Way trail along the coast from Ogunquit village to the boutiques, lobster shacks and clapboard houses of the scruffily-posh Perkin’s Cove, there are a good number of people on the trail, enjoying the first real warming sun of the year. Enough, in fact, to image what kind of a traffic jam must occur on these low cliffs during the high season.

We walk down to the cove, where despite the shops selling overpriced souvenirs, lobster rolls for $20 or the works of average but well-positioned local artists, they still reserve parking spots for the lobstermen and the small print of the menu guarantees that the shellfish in the twenty dollar roll was brought ashore by the owner himself. Later in the evening, at an inn just out of town along Route 1, Katrin grapples with a lobster under the direction of a friendly Turkish waitress, and despite the effort it is soon clear why they are so proud of what the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean can provide for the pot and the plate.

In the morning and it is time for a far more prosaic meal – breakfast in a diner right at the entrance to Ogunquit beach, where only one of the two motels is open for business and the vast car park is basically empty except for the trucks and trailers of the odd dog walker or lunatic surfer who can be seen in the distance, bobbing about in the freezing waves. We eat eggs cooked whichever way we please, pancakes and maple syrup, and our coffee and tea is bottomless, and so most of us decide that the only way to justify such a start to the day is to take a long, windswept walk along the beach. My crutches do not fancy the soft sand however, so I stay awhile in the nearly-empty diner, listening to two women talk about the politics of the local school whilst Billy Joel and then – glory be, as the Stars and Stripes flutters above the empty car park just beyond the window – Bruce Springsteen provide the soundtrack.

There will be no beating the Boss, so I drain the coffee cup and firmly decline another re-fill and head out into the blustery, beautiful day, to sit on a bench at the edge of the sands and wait for the others to return from their walk. It does not matter how long they will take to return. In Ogunquit on Easter weekend, there does not appear to be any real need to hurry…

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Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures: Katrin Schönig

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2 thoughts on “Off season in Ogunquit, Maine

  1. Dave

    That took me right back to New England. Great imagery (both literal and real). Hope you enjoyed your time there and the locals treated you well!

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