Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Coping with Covid – Escape to Magnificent Maine, amongst other Ideas

July 23rd, 2020
Prouts Neck

Covid, fake tan man, the economy, Portland mayor getting tear gassed through his goggles, person, woman, man, camera, TV, worrying fake tan man won’t leave office on January 20th, I thought bad things come in threes? Maybe it’s multiples of three?

And then there’s my roommate, an early riser, who likes to wish me good morning with romantic missives…

As someone whose mental health is based on finding some glimmer of hope, however faint,  I’ve drafted a list of things that Covid has been good for. It’s a short list.

Covid is good for dogs, cocktail glasses, pajamas and people with double chins and or great eyes. My mother once told me the top half of my face was better than the bottom half so I’m grateful that  face masks hide my worse half. Not such a great year for lipstick, but I don’t want to be Debbie Downer.

Not so close families do well in Covid. Here my friend Marc celebrated his 60th on Zoom with his extended family. They had not been reunited in over 15 years. You can see from these brief videos that Marc’s family was a bit hesitant about hitting Join. But with a lot of cajoling from the birthday boy, they did.

Covid is also good for people who work from home, and now realize their home can be wherever they want it to be. I know of people moving to Maine, Florida, California and London because they can. Have screen will relocate. People aren’t locked down physically by office jobs anymore. It’s a virtual world baby.

Covid is great for road trips. I’ve discovered that there are places I can drive to in America that feel plenty foreign. Foreign in an initially uncomfortable way, but soon in an ‘oh, this is kind of fun, good to challenge myself’ kind of way.

Take Prouts Neck, in southern Maine, for example.

I drove there with my pal Susan last week to visit our friend Lauren (all Covid compliant).

This is a place where everyone smiles and waves  as they cycle by, tan and glowing in their tennis togs or golf gear. What’s not to be happy about? Maine is gorgeous with its craggy coastline, long beaches and pine trees.

Why is everyone so skinny here? I ask Lauren suspiciously. Are they all on the Keto diet or something? Prouts people love sports, she answers. It’s summer camp for adults here.

And indeed, we barely saw Lauren’s husband Dan, whose family has been coming to Prouts pre-Mayflower. His  days are consumed with tennis, golf, fishing and boating…

What I loved about Prouts was how real it felt. These people know how to have fun – being with old (Covid-free) friends, enjoying the outdoors, eating copious amounts of fresh lobster, cocktails at sunset…

No one here is fancy. Dinners are potluck, everyone chips in. In fact, being fancy is looked down upon, which makes life refreshingly relaxing.

Prouts people live by the principle ‘ Do without, it won’t kill you.’ They are the the Scots of North America. Spending money is a sin, except when it comes to golf clubs, fishing rods or other sporting gear. Why buy a new lightbulb when there’s a flashlight somewhere in the house? Or better yet, go to bed earlier.  Why go to a wine store when you need loo rolls too (single-ply of course).  Sell by dates are for pussies.

Summer camp for Dan, Outward Bound for Elena.

Lauren gave Susan and me a tour of Prouts starting off with the beach club shop which stocks a few key items- tomato sauce and toilet paper –

then she took us to the golf shop, a fashion forward kind of place,

where I bought myself a fleece. Fleeces are a staple at Prouts. Leave your Missoni coverup at home.

In one day, we kayaked,

paddle boarded,

swam with seals (not exactly kosher), went boating, feasted on lobster, mussels and clams for lunch,

hiked the Cliff Walk,

biking from each activity to the next. My chariot (brakes nonexistent) …

When we finally returned to Lauren and Dan’s house in the late afternoon, Lauren suggested we go for a second swim in the bracing Atlantic. I told her I had to make an important call (ie collapse on my bed).  But it was a good exhaustion, especially now with all the bad news out there. It’s nice to escape albeit temporarily.

I’ve signed up for Outward Bound again next summer and want to also explore northern  Maine – places like Mount Desert, Kennebunkport, Northeast Harbor, Seal Harbor. Packing fleece, flashlight and a sense of humor.

July, 2020