You know summer has come to Maine when you hear the screen doors slamming and your dear friends from away start showing up. They are a blessing but also, to be frank, a burden.
Of course we love the chance to be with them once again. But the cell phone call that they are heading up I-95 and will soon be here can stir a mixture of pleasant anticipation as well as a certain dread. Especially if the message includes “we can only stay a week” or “we had to bring the dogs.”
Might as well face it. Maine winters are long and cold and seem almost endless. We have been waiting for these long warm days and the chance to enjoy ourselves outdoors. In those cold and often lonely months, it was easy as pie to add a crucial sentence on a holiday greeting: “Why not come to Maine for a visit?”
Here is some advice for the prospective hosts: First, if you suggest a visit, you can be sure that they will come, and almost always in July or August. Give them assignments around the house or send them off on hikes or errands. To them, Maine seems so remote that it would be foolish to stay for just a day or two.
It is better to watch your mouth and go easy with invitations than resort to rudeness like one offshore island family. The wife was bidding farewell to a couple who had stayed a week when the woman asked brightly, “And may we come again next year?” The island woman’ s one-word reply was: “No.” The custom of some wealthy residents of buying a smaller nearby home as a guesthouse, to keep visitors out from underfoot, may seem a bit inhospitable, but is completely understandable.
Prospective guests can use some advice, too. Even a single day or two, instead of the traditional three-day limit, can be quite rewarding. Remember that the food and drink may not be quite what you are used to. Give the host and hostess a break and go off on your own from time to time. If you bring a gift, forget trivets and wind chimes and cocktail napkins. Make it something edible or drinkable. Groceries are always welcome, especially fruit or vegetables or a good piece of cheese.
With a little foresight and restraint, these summer visits can be fun for both parties. If they work at it, guests and hosts can enjoy together the wonderful summer in a wonderful state. But keep in mind that shorter is better.