My Maine Childhood

Maine lake camp

I’m a Maine-summer girl. Some of my earliest memories are from visiting my dad’s sister’s place on Lake Sebago or my mom’s father’s cooperage in Portland. Then my mother died, and I was sent away to camp.  If that sounds cruel, listen up.

I was eight when my mother died. And back then, believe it or not, I was the only child in my school class who didn’t have two parents in the home. Cut to summer camp six months later.  We’re talking eight weeks away from home, on the shores of Crystal Lake in Harrison, Maine.  Suddenly, I was in a new place with non-stop activities from Reveille, blown on a real live bugle at seven in the morning, to Taps, blown at nine at night. More to the point, I was in a bunk with seven other girls, in a row of eleven other bunks, each with eight girls, none of whom had mothers there either. I was no different from anyone else.

We were all homesick. We bonded over that, I’m sure – though it could have been the hospital corners we couldn’t quite get right on our cots, or the swims on frigid mornings, or the trek to the shower house for mandatory twice-weekly showers. I don’t think of those things now, though, when I remember those summers. I think of the girls, my bunkmates and teammates, friends I desperately missed when summer ended, and some of whom I am still in touch with. And I think of the setting.

Picture grassy fields, clay tennis courts, and a pine path leading down to the lake. Smell the pines bordering that path and the fire in the main bunk hearth each morning. Taste s’mores at weekly cookouts. Hear the sound of the lake at night, lapping oh-so-gently against the shore.

Those summers were formative ones for me. I thrived there in the woods by the lake. Years later, when my husband and I were shopping for a lake place, my litmus test was whether I could close my eyes and hear that oh-so-gentle lapping of water on rocks.  But Maine didn’t wait for my house.  For years before we found it, we were day-tripping to the southern Maine coast and weekending in places like Boothbay and Bar Harbor, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and Portland.

Maine has inspired many of my books, dating back to romances like Sweet Ember, Jasmine Sorcery, and Surrender by Moonlight, and moving on to full-lengthers, like Facets, Within Reach, and For My Daughters. And now we have Sweet Salt Air and The Summer I Dared. Both are set in Maine, both newly released in my favorite trade paperback format, both the perfect summer read guaranteed to take you up and away.

These are sensual books, as in dealing with every sense we possess. As are my memories of Maine summers, they are rich in the sights and smells and tastes of Maine. They also hold a whole lot of my heart and soul. Remember that as you read them. I’ll never write a memoir, but these books come pretty close.

Do you have a special place like my Maine?



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  1. Megan Wallace on July 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Pemaquid Harbor is my “Happy Place” as well as I love Great Moose Pond in Hartland. I am fortunate to live in Maine – South Portland and see the ocean everyday.

  2. Amy Coburn on July 10, 2014 at 6:59 am

    First of all I would love to say I love your books and upon reading this we also share a marvoulous love of Maine Lakes. I was raised spending mt summers at a family camp on the beautiful Spednic Lake which borders Maine and New Brunswick at a camp that was build by the men who ran logs thru the lake to the beautiful St Croix River system. The camp was build in the early 1900’s and was framed by logs. (named Laf-a-lot) andwas bought by my grandparents in the 1930’s. My grandmother divided the land into lots and gave each of her children a lot to build a camp. My mother left her camp to me and my family still enjoy it today along with our granddaughter who loves to searce the shore for driftwood and special rocks. No TV, No electricity, no noise except for the loons wailing at night and if you are up early enough in the morning you can see a mother duck and her ducklings searching for food swimming down by the camp and returning at nightfall. The sounds of the waves lapping on the shore is such a peaceful sound often I can be found Setting on the deck , wrapped in my blanket, searching the dark skys for the constellations that as a child my grandmother showed me. Summer can also be found canoeing down the beautiful St Croix River running the rapids and ending up funning the falls. So much peace there

  3. Corinne on July 10, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I am bless to live in Maine my favorite Maine place is Ft. Williams just beautiful. However I do have many other places I like as well in Maine. I have travel many places and see beautiful places , but oh my home of Maine is just perfect, beautiful all year long, and my favorite place of all.

  4. Dale Morin on July 10, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I grew up in Maine and am familiar with all the places you mentioned. While I no longer live there Maine will always be home. I love reading your Maine books! I think For my daughters is my favorite.

    One of my favorite places in Maine is Pemaquid. It holds wonderful memories for me.

  5. Shelly on July 10, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I am a MA girl but I have spent my entire life vacationing on Newfound Lake in NH. I am here right now, actually! Every time I read one of your books (or listen to an audio version, as I am now) I feel like it could be taking place here in Bridgewater, Bristol or either of the other couple of towns that surround the lake.

    If I can’t be on the lake, I will go to Ogunquit, ME. And if I can only squeeze in a quick day trip, then I’m off to Gloucester and Rockport, MA. These places remind me of all the times I have been able to spend with my grandmother, who at 83, still joins me.

    We are so lucky here in New England to be able to go from city to mountains and lakes to ocean any time we want. I hope my girls have the love for Newfound Lake, Gloucester, Rockport and Ogunquit that I do and share it with their children some day as my grandparents and mother have with me.

    • Pamela Morris on July 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

      I was born and raised in Maine and iit will always be home to me, although I have not lived there in many years. The place in Maine where I was raised had five large lakes around the area and we were day tripers to them. My family had relatives and many friends with camps and we were always welcome. Most of my family are still living in Maine and we do visit as often as possible! When I return it is definitely a feeling of coming home and always will be! That is why I started reading your books because of the areas you wrote about! I love everyone that I have read, and I am always looking forward to the next one.

  6. Terry Hathaway on July 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I, too, am a Maine Girl, growing up in the small town of Peru. Our summers were spent on Worthley Pond, in Peru. My sister and I spent many hours on the dock and raft getting the perfect tan and reading our Nancy Drew books. Pemaquid Lighthouse was always a favorite place for our family. You just can’t beat the mighty Maine coast. I, too, love your books, Barbara.

  7. Janice Colburn Swenson on July 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Maine is definitely special to me…especially Ogunquit!! We are from MA but now live in PA. I really miss being only an hour away from Ogunquit. I spent every summer from the age of four until I was eighteen in Hampton, NH and that’s where I began my love affair with the Ocean.

    Thank you, Barbara, for your books!! I can relate so much to the characters and locations that you write about. Thanks for giving me so many hours of enjoyment!!


  8. Binky Tindall on July 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I love all of your books. Taking place in Maine made them even more special! My husband asked me one year where I wanted to go on vacation. I finally told him I had always wanted to go to Maine. The reason – as a school teacher I read the books that took place in Maine to my classes and always thought it would be such a wonderful place to go. When we were driving into Booth Bay Harbor and could see the bay, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was everything I ever thought it would be and more. For eleven years we went to Booth Bay Harbor every summer. We have ventured out on every little “finger” that goes out from Highway 1 and enjoyed every one of them. We have been all up and down the east coast. It is just the most beautiful, peaceful place I have ever been! I hope to go back in a year or two. I have really missed it.

  9. Julie on July 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I grew up in Wellesley, MA, spent my summers of 9-15 at overnight camp in NH, and summers of 16-21 in Ogunquit working summer jobs. I went to Colby College in Maine, too. My mom moved to York, Maine year round in 1986. I’ve been living in Virginia since 1987, so going home these days is Maine, especially since my gram, brother, and nephews live in York too. I also think of Wellesley as home even though I don’t get there anymore. I was so mad at my mom when she bought a summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee. Huh? She has a beautiful view of the ocean from her house, is within walking distance of two beaches, is one town south of Ogunquit and the Ogunquit Playhouse….and she needs a summer house somewhere else? I kinda freaked out. She didn’t get it when I told her that I think of Maine as home. Thanks for giving this transported girl a good dose of Maine on a regular basis!

    • Cynthia Cassidy on October 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Like you I went to camp in NH (Wetamoe, Ossippee, NH) and grew up in MA. This was a Girl Scout camp and I just cannot help but wonder if this was the same camp that you went to. I was also there from 9 to 15 years of age but came from Cambridge. I have a daughter and son-in-law that live in West Bath, ME and we enjoy visiting but not the long drive from Shenandoah Valley, VA were we retired to some 11 years ago after 43 years in CT. I have enjoyed Barbara Delinsky’s books very much. I have a childhood sad experience that I share with her, I lost my mother when I was 9. As you can see I was at camp when this happened.

  10. David Bell on July 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Our retirement home was in New Harbor and just a mile walk from Pemaquid Point lighthouse. My morning walk was to the light and often to watch the sun rise “out of the ocean”. How wonderful to see the ocean at that time of day and realize God had given me another day to live and enjoy.

  11. Diane Getchell on July 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I live on beautiful Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. We are located just over a short bridge from Lubec, Maine. We are actually 50 miles from Mainland Canada so we have close ties with Maine. I was born in PA but would spend summers here and always wanted to live here. My husband and I and our six kids moved here in 1973 and I hope to live in this area for the the rest of my days. Most of my kids thought the grass was greener in Pa but soon returned to New England. They are living in Wells, Durham, Otisfield,, Maine and Amherst, NH. I am so blessed to be able to travel all through Maine and NH three or four times a year and I am amazed every time at all the beauty that surrounds us. I would be hard pressed to pick one place over the other but the breathtaking views we have here on Campobello are hard to beat. I am so thankful that I am able to live with such beauty, serenity and safety.

  12. Bernadette on July 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I’m a Chicago born girl, but when I went to the ArrowTip of Minnesota, I lost my heart and found my soul. After years of visiting family members, then working summers at their lodge while I was on summer vacation from teaching, I worked as a cleaning maid! Loved running through the woods, stopping for wild berries, sleeping in a leaky maids cabin. Eventually my husband realized I was Minnesota in Love….we bought a cabin, made another one, and it became the family retreat. Every summer, the last day of school,I headed northward to my “home” in the forests of MN. I loved MN so much, everyone thought I was born and raised there, but lacked the northern MN accent! Even now, when I have to relax, escape from stress, I see myself on the dock, listening to the loons, mesmerized by the glistening of the lake…it takes me to a place I yearn to be once again!

  13. Gail Bonnevie on July 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I have just this minute finished “Sweet Salt Air” and was so impressed I had to write you. That was by far one of the best books I have read in a very long time, I laughed and cried. It definately had a lot of feeling and left me wanting to go to Quinnipeaque. Well done.

    • Pennsatucky on July 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      Wasn’t it good? I think I’ll read it again, I’ve just been hunting for BD books that I may not have read (and re-read!)

  14. Kathy Penley on July 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    My later childhood (after 8 years) was spent living in Ellsworth, ME when my father was about to retire from the Navy. My mother is from Brooksville, and I remember many Saturdays were spent at our grandparents house (her parents) throughout the years….we always called the home ‘The Farm’. My brothers and I loved being there because we could swim in Walkers Pond which was a short walk from the house. The family also had a blueberry hill that was affectionally called, Blueberry Hill, created lots of stories in a treehouse we all made with help from Grandpa. Early December, the entire families would spent all day celebrating an early Christmas with grammie and grandpa. Us kids would sled down hills that were on the property and ride snowmobiles out on the fields. The family owned 42 acres. As I get older, I realize how special my childhood was and love telling the stories. Both these towns were a great place to be a kid. So innocent and care-free.

  15. Barbara Stewart on July 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I’m a California girl, but have been to Maine several times. My sister and I spent two summers exploring every peninsula in Maine, we’ve been down all of them! My fav place is the area above Portland, especially Camden.
    So I too, love your books that take place in Maine. Please keep writing! Actually, I wish you write FASTER! But I do know a good story doesn’t happen overnight!
    Thank you for all you wonderful books, I think I have then all. some favorites: The Summer I Dared was my fav, until I read Not My Daughter, then came Sweet Salt Air. So you see, they all are my favorites! Many, many thanks!

  16. Pennsatucky on July 24, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I was desperate to go to camp and so happy when I got the chance, I remember my mom seemed melancholy at the drop off, I couldn’t get why she wasn’t as over the moon as I was, but after I hopped aboard the train with the other excited girls it suddenly hit me that I was going off alone. My stomach dropped to the floor and rushed to the window to look for her; if I hadn’t been so paralyzed with fear I would have begged them to let me off so that I could go home with my mom, but then we started rolling, and then slowly the excitement came back. To this day the chances I risk are because she let me go and have that adventure.

    I’m sorry that you lost your mom so young. My mother passed at 80, after a long illness. I had thought her passing would somehow be easier to because she’d lived a long life but it was like a twister had dropped on our family. There is no age that I would have been ready to let here go.

    That’s why I’m glad I read “For My Daughters” years ago, it was one of the keys in learning to understand my mother instead of begrudging her not being Carol Brady, I recommend the book to all and sundry.

  17. Earle Flynn on January 5, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    We are Southerners, Georgia & now Ala, as we are retired. When younger, we and other family members were Harley riders. We traveled to/ through Bar Harbour, Booth Bay, stopping at many beautiful little towns. We stopped at Lobster Shacks all along the way, eating more Lobster than one should! We shopped at beautiful little shops, buying things, having them shipped back as we couldn’t carry them on the bikes. We were staying in one such little town over the 4th of July. We walked into town from the motel to see the fireworks. On my gosh! How beautiful! They had more fireworks than we had ever seen in our town of Marietta, Ga.! We love the New England states so much! Thank you Barbara for your beautiful books! Such wonderful reads! I wish you continued success!

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