Corea, Maine 04624

July 8, 1977


Dear Barbara—


There is no excuse for this not writing you—none. The cartoon and clipping, with your characteristically self-effacing note, arrived safely, and there was no excuse then either. Especially since I think of you so much and so fondly, and a piece of me is still permanently lodged there on Connecticut Avenue. We’ve been here nearly a week now, though, and are so settled in that it’s as though we’d always lived here—it’s only this morning that I’ve made myself get out the typewriter and open up communications. For one thing, we’re not getting any mail. Not even the New York Times, which we’re paying to have sent. And it is a bit sheepish-making to arrive at the post office, beaming hopefully, and be told that there isn’t anything. Better at least to bring something to be mailed. Of course the walk is good for us, and the weather has been so persistently bright and breezy that it’s a crime not to be out walking. We’re in what turns out to be a rather small house, very snug and busy with fishnet and the skeletal remains of starfish and sea urchins, plus all manner of what Hal refers to as Little Chotchkas (spelling probably off a little). Also oil paintings in large numbers; among many other things, our landlady does them. She also brings over things such as fresh-baked peanut-butter cookies and homemade wine. She is what her husband refers to as a “full-blooded Italian. ” He on the other hand is pure Yankee, and reminds me in many ways of my father. They have, of all things, a couple of goats. I could hardly believe it when, our first evening, I heard that small bleat from somewhere in the back. We’re in sight of water, including a lighthouse and various islands, with woods at our back. There are lots of mosquitoes, but thus far no blackflies, the real horror of these parts. We’ve already pulled off a small adventure. Very early in the week, we started off on a walk and ended up crossing the exposed sandbar that turns our picnic island into a temporary peninsula. Discovering that the sandbar that connects it still more temporarily with yet another island, known as the Outer Bar, was above water, we achieved our ambition of getting onto it. After climbing around for a while, we suddenly realized that the tide was coming in and that our second sandbar was under water. For a few minutes we debated whether to stay and wait for the next low tide, subsisting on such wild strawberries as we might find, but then decided on getting our feet wet. For anybody else, all this may sound tame, but we’re both so easily alarmed that we felt exceedingly intrepid. And our landlord made us feel more so by admitting that he’d been to the Outer Bar only twice himself. [ . . . ] We’re reading Little Dorrit—still!—aloud, and I’m just about to finish the biography of Simone Weil that I’ve been reading off and on for weeks. I don’t know of any twentieth-century figure I admire more. Do you know of her at all?

Actually, despite the bright weather I’ve gotten some work done—mainly editing a Dutton manuscript. Tonight we’re going in to Ellsworth, the nearest real town, for a performance of Così fan tutte—after not being near the opera in New York for years. We seem to be living mainly on such things as blueberry pie, strawberry shortcake, and crabmeat—as being less bother than lobster and just as good . . . .