we dedicate this year's newsletter to reggie, faithful canine companion
of walter and emily mayne, who passed away while
vacationing at harborfields this july.
he was a good dog, which is, as any dog owner can tell you, a truly wonderful thing to be.
"Awoke around 5:30. A lovely still morning. The lilacs at either end of the porch, which may have been planted by my great-grandfather, are covered with blossoms. There are robins and the small yellow warblers and a hummingbird, all busy about their own business. Somebody in a red punt is pulling lobster pots just off the shore.
The blue heron stands at his usual spot on the north end of the island. Numerous gulls and comorants are also present."
This and the following selections taken from Dick Thorpe's Harborfields Journal
Hard as it is to believe, we've all made it through another vacation season and somehow managed to return to our workaday lives and schedules rested and refreshed after another glorious week or tow at Harborfields. However, I read somewhere recently that 56% of Americans describe themselves as "more tired" after taking a vacation than before, so I'm really only addressing the other 44% here, the ones who know how to vacation effectively.
For those of you who feel that you might fall into the 56% bracket, I offer some tips for more restful vacationing -
We obviously can't think of all the ways in which you might want to make your vacation a more restful experience, so just consider these general guidelines, and feel free to pass on to us any ideas you might come up with. Only, don't spend any time thinking about them while you're here...
"It's sort of fun to look up from the water to our several houses and to wonder what it all looked like when my grandfather was a boy, and my great-grandfather conducted his fishing business here. There was but one house then, instead of four now. I have been told that they used to boil lobsters by the bucket, cracking them open and feeding them to the hens. There were but few trees then, much of the acreage was pasture...
It must have been rugged, but real nice in those days."
... and so is Harborfields. After long, careful consideration we have decided to make a couple of big changes to the place, which should improve the quality of everyone's visit. Beginning in May 2003, we will have our very own laundry room for guest use. The room will feature two coin-operated washers and one dryer, and a folding table, and will be located next to the current linen shed. We hope this will be of benefit to our guests and cut down on trips to town and waiting around at the laundromat.
Also, we will be designing and building a gazebo to be placed near the upper parking area, figuring that it will provide a shady area for guests to hang out on hot, sunny days. We are considering instituting a weekly social hour for guests, and think the gazebo would be a great place for everyone to come together.
We are also continuing to upgrade the cottages based upon your suggestions in our "Guest Questionaire," and will be adding better lighting and plumbing to as many cottages as we can get to next spring. New steps up to the Hillside Cottage are also on the list, as well as some type of awning for the Wharf Cottage deck.
We are happy to report that the new wood stoves seem to be doing a great job of actually providing heat for he cottages on those chilly fall days, so anyone who might have been reluctant to visit us in September and October can do so now with some reasonable expectation of escaping the place without suffering hypothermia.
To those few guests you suggested putting TVs and radios in the cottages, we can only say what we've always said, "If those items are necessary for you, please feel free to bring your own."
"After breakfast, Ricky and I straightened up the Harborfields sign at the entrance to the driveway. Ricky had previously hung the sign from a sort of yardarm arrangement, held up, in part, by a rope led back and nailed to the main post. Dry weather had stretched the rope, canting the sign in a most unprepossessing manner.
Our first 'off the road' guests left this morning."
Nothing to do with Native Americans, I'm afraid, but an item of major importance for all returning guests. The Prose Family will be taking an actual vacation during the Christmas holidays, and we will be away from Harborfields from the 17th of December until the 31st. Therefore, since this cuts heavily into prime reservation-making time, we have decided to bump the opening date for 2003 reservations up to November 15th.
I repeat, 2003 reservations will be taken from November 15th until approximately December 15th, at which time we will be closing the office for two weeks. Obviously, we will try our best to make sure that any returning guests who call during our absence, or after the first of the year, get situated where they want to stay, but please take note of this important change.
When you do call to make your reservations, please try and help jog our weakening memories by reminding us if you are bringing pets, boats, caravans of relatives, explosive devices, spicy foreign foodstuffs, etc...
"'Today's Picture' -- the Avia -- a ketch, coming around the Hatchery Point under full sail in a strong breeze. After making the point it headed up...with sails flapping...watched the mainsail come down and then with jib and jigger flapping away it sailed right up to our shore to avoid the rocks on the south end of the island and then swung north to pick up her mooring. Father and two sons aboard; the father in white trousers, red shirt, wearing a blue lobsterman cap, and the two sons in bathing trunks glistening in the strong sun."
Rick did his best to try and accommodate all the guests who wanted to bring boats this past summer, but things got a bit tight at times, as those of you who brought boats may have noticed. Unless we get permission from the town to drop another mooring or two, we will, at some point, have to say "no" to someone at some time, just to make sure that the dock and mooring spaces don't get dangerously over-used. These decisions will be made on a first-come/first-served basis, if it comes to that, and we ask everyone's patience and understanding.
The waterfront activity/bring-your-own-boat aspect of our business has expanded quickly since we took over in 1999, though our available space has only expanded by 40 feet of floating dock and one additional mooring in that time. We are trying to convince the town fathers that we should have, and have room for, another two moorings, but have had little luck so far. We'll keep trying is about all we can promise.
"... I noticed that a car had stopped at the entrance to the driveway in a sort of hesitating manner... Finally the car drove in, a snappy roadster, it turned out to be the State Inspector, a very nice guy who looked at all the buildings, asked innumerable questions, and filled out various forms. We seemed to pass muster except that we must put linoleum on all the bathroom floors. According to the statement left with us we have -
C. Spittoons - Zero
D. Employees with sores - Zero
G. Rodents - Zero"
The good news is that for a few years now we've been able to keep the prices at roughly the same levels they were in 1999 when we began the challenging and rewarding process of restoring some of Harborfields' lost luster.
The bad news is, of course, that we are raising rates effective May 3rd, 2003, to better reflect current market realities in Boothbay Harbor and the area in general, and at Harborfields in particular. In order to continue improving the cottages, grounds and level and number of services we can reasonably provide, we feel it is necessary to raise prices this year.
Along with a slight price increase, this year will also see a re-structuring of rates for some cottages to eliminate arbitrarily-imposed prices that make little sense to the current management. For example, the price increase for the Captain's Quarters will be slightly greater than that for the Wharf Cottage, although heretofore they rented at the same rate. It makes no sense that a modern apartment with relatively good heating and a separate bedroom should be valued at the same rate as a studio style cottage with only a wood stove, even if one is on the water. By the same token, it makes no sense that the Hillside Cottage, with its large bedroom (with actual baseboard heat) and spectacular view, should be priced at only slightly more per week than the Terrace Cottage, which is much smaller, though with an equally spectacular view.
The price increase for most cottages will be in the 5% range, and any rate increases beyond that level are simply the result of the aforementioned rate structure adjustment.
We realize that even an increase of as little as 5% may affect some of our guests' vacation plans, but we will do our best to make sure that the level of service and the maintenance of the cottages and grounds continues to improve to justify the new rates.
"The Prestons have been here several days. They are in the old house and they are 30 or 40 of them including 4 children, 2 dogs, a canary and many white mice."
The designated doggie "free run zone" in the field by the cove seems to have satisfied most dog owners as concerns the exercise needs of their pets, but we still have some guests who insist on making us play dog police by having to ask them to leash their pets in other areas. We don't like to do it, it's an awkward conversation to have, we've explained the thinking behind the policy before, and the rules are the rules.
"Obviously Harborfields would not function were it not for our many friends. Those fortunate ones who live in Boothbay Harbor throughout the year, and our guests are largely responsible for such modest success as we have achieved. Our thanks go forward to all these many friends."
The preceding quote, written by Dick Thorpe sometime in 1948, could just as easily have been written by us today, they are just as true and heartfelt now as they were then. We have tried hard to ensure that Harborfields remains "Ideal for a Maine Vacation," in a style that retains its rustic charm while continuing to update the cottages and grounds where necessary and appropriate.
We truly value the relationships we have developed with all our guests, new and old, and hope that Harborfields will remain an important part of your summer memories for many more years to come.
"This summer we will be more efficiently organized and better equipped, but will try to continue the friendly informality which seems to be characteristic of Harborfields. (1949)"
Barbara, Rick, Sophia and Celeste Prose
PO Box 524
West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575