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THE COVE OF MY HEART
by Maggie Finch
It’s quite small, as I remember: about the size of a large swimming
pool. This feeling was enhanced by the presence of large haphazard rocks all across the mouth, so that at high tide the water achieved a nearly magical serenity.
My mother used to take us up to Maine for vacation (four kids and a few well-chosen companions), renting various extremely economical habitations, always with Bath as the hub. That summer brought us to a pair of tiny, isolated camps which we designated conveniently, Males and Females. We had access to a strip of beach, and a charming evergreen wood, through which we walked each day to obtain our all-important mail. Among the lofty trees the woodthrush tossed out its ripples of song. But it is the cove that I remember in a special way. All my long life I’ve never seen anything else like it — anything else so beautiful. The pines rimmed it, coming down close to the shore, as if they wanted to join us in our swim. The clean white sand bottom was clearly seen on quiet days. To move along, or rest, buoyed up by the placid, golden, sun-struck water, was to be enveloped by such an excellence that I could only feel that this was what I would discover in heaven.
Ever since that summer, no spot has come near it. Oh, yes, I’ve lived in, I’ve visited, some great places — some that were “world-renouned.” Yet the memory of this nameless little inlet is still my source of unending courage, strength and joy.
You know how sometimes you’re asked to shut your eyes and revisit a place very dear to you, a place very calming, serene? Guess where I go. At the dentist’s just the other day, I found it expedient to take another leisurely afternoon swim. I was even fortunate enough to find one of those sun-warmed pockets. . . .
Living now, haply, in Bath, I’ve tried once or twice to find my liquid Shangri-La again. Actually, I’ve been told by a friend that she’s sure she knows the place and could take me there. That’s very kind, but now I’ve about decided “you can’t go home again.” What if I were to find it changed? What if the trees no longer come crowding down in so friendly a fashion? What if there are a couple of cottages watching themselves in that pristine, high-tide mirror?
I think I’d rather keep the treasure I have, wrapped securely inside me where no one can touch it and disillusion has no chance to come barging in on something so precious, so enchanting. I’m reminded of a song by Burns — how does it go? — “I’ll wear you in my heart, lest I should lose my jewel. . . .”
My trusty Webster’s Collegiate informs me that the word “cove” also has the meaning “a sheltered nook,” and so I know that I rightfully assign this minute bit of the Atlantic as the cove of my heart.
MAGGIE’S SEVEN SPIRITUAL GIFTS
“As long as I can remember, Maggie carried inspiring words she had written out, by hand, in her wallet at all times and read them often. I remember the St. Francis Prayer and quotes from Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef, Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Borysenko, and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Near the end of her life, she posed for this photo when she was excitedly telling me about a list of seven spiritual gifts from a book she was reading. love, joy, friendship forgiveness, kindness, faith, and laughter. She especially loved that the list included laughter
ONE OF MAGGIE’S LAST EMAILS
Sent to her lifelong friend made in college, Martha Willard DeRichemont
Maggie and Martha had met at Bennett Junior College and loved Millay together. All their lives, Maggie and Martha sent each other penguins and called each other “Mabel.” Maggie told me that this was a joke invented in college because one of them had a maiden aunt called Mabel and they were teasing each other about the possibility of becoming a conventional respectable woman like Mabel. I forget the origin of the penguins.
From: Margaret Finch <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, May 1, 2013 at 5:44 PM
Subject: LOVE. LOVE. LOVE!!!!!!
To: marthaderichemont <firstname.lastname@example.org
SWEET WOMAN OF MY ETERNITY! ! ! ! I HAVe to admit that I am totallt, but totally, at sea here