What better way to welcome spring than with an ode to a favorite place?
On a trip to visit the fellas at Oxbow Brewery (more to come on that), we discovered a cottage nestled in an enclave about an hour north of Portland, Maine. It was a hungry morning on the road, and we stepped by chance into this little abode, lured simply by the promise of “Joan’s scones.” Little did we know, this decision would soon alter our view of hospitality as we knew it. Equally important, it would give new meaning to the notion of a deeply satisfying breakfast.
Wabi Sabi Cottage has since become near and dear to us. The warm and glowing lady at its helm, whom we now know as Mama Joan, is a fixture in our daily thoughts. Whenever any need for comfort crosses our minds, we hear her voice, gently musing … ‘How about some breakfast? What can I make you kids for breakfast?’
Now we invite you into her home.
A MORNING AT WABI SABI COTTAGE. ALNA, MAINE
Mama Joan: “I grew up in Hope, Maine, just a mile from the Hope General Store. The halfway point on the walk is where I would hope to catch sight of my 4th grade sweetheart Ricky. In fact, my first kiss was behind Ricky Wright’s grandfather’s chicken barn, just up the road from the Hope General. I have very fond memories of that general store, the smell of the wood floor, the penny candy and the old post office boxes in the back.
I have been collecting Old General Store Antiques for many years. The oak post office wall, post master service window and brass boxes, from the Seal Harbor General Store, came up for auction while building Wabi Sabi Cottage. I couldn’t sleep the night before for the excitement of completing my collection of general store memorabilia.”
“These are the brass post office boxes from the section of the Seal Harbor, Maine Post Office that is built into the wall of our café. They are filled with teacups and saucers that guests can choose from to enjoy their tea. Most of the cups were brought by Cal Hurdle, who came every Sunday the first year we opened and bartered his breakfast for a teacup!”
Jen gazes out from the Post Office Café in anticipation of the delights to come:
“Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins, Donut Holes, and Joan’s Scones. I made every one from scratch in the bakery space of Wabi Sabi Cottage overlooking the Sheepscot River. People often ask me what a scone is. I tell them that a scone is the ‘love child of a biscuit and a muffin.’ Not as plain as a biscuit and not as sweet as a muffin!” …
Jen looks out over the Sheepscot River, the inspiration of Mama Joan’s donut holes (it must be said, some of the best she’s ever had):
Mama Joan prepares for round two. Only at Wabi Sabi does breakfast contain multiple courses:
As Dale Cooper says, “I like my bacon super crispy. Almost burnt. cremated.” So do we. These trays of heaven would not disappoint:
Mama Joan chimes in:
“Antique Sterling Silver individual teapots were used by fancy hotels to serve tea. Only I am left enjoying the zen moments of collecting and polishing these silver pots that we use for our afternoon tea service!”…
A perfect vignette. Jen documents the breakfast to end all breakfasts:
Homemade Challah bread soaked in “secret batter” and fried in clarified butter, stuffed with homemade raspberry jam and cream cheese. Enough said:
Herbed “goat” eggs with horseradish, spinach, and goat cheese. The taste still lingers on our tongues:
Ascending the stairs after our repas, eager to view the rooms overlooking the Sheepscot River:
Joan gives us the grand tour:
“Not one but TWO claw foot tubs with wine glasses and book holders for your bathing pleasure. The most often heard exclamation when touring this bathroom is ‘Just like the Cialis commercial!’” …
“This is ‘The Sheepscot River Suite’ that boasts the two antique claw-foot tubs. Non-smoking, queen bed, view of river from the bed and the shower!” …
“Great reading nook inspired by the coast of Maine, from the navy blue trim to the sailboat models and paintings. This is the nook reserved for guests in ‘The Dyer River Room,’ a double handcrafted pencil post bed high off the floor with an antique chamber pot under the bed.” …
“In an attempt to enjoy only the sounds of the 19th century, this replica old crank phone actually works! The print speaks for itself. No explanation needed… just a snack for the eyes to feed the soul. Great eye, Lendl!” …
“This is an antique ‘out’ box that would have been hanging beside a time lock in a factory. Before electronic badges to swipe, workers clocked in by placing a stiff oaktag time sheet into a clock that stamped the time in and out. While I only have the ‘out,’ I know where the ‘in’ is and hope to acquire it one day to take its rightful place next to its partner.” …
Returning to the kitchen, we meet the two Bills of Wabi Sabi.
We share a few memorable moments.
And some wise words:
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” -William Morris
Words. Jennifer Green
Images. Lendl Tellington