Skip to main content

An OffiSHELL Home in Bath

An OffiSHELL Home in Bath

A few months ago, Warwick and I were sitting at home in Vermont, mulling over my plans for the Maine retreats, the oy'store, tours, and tastings. My shoulders sunk. "What are we doing?" I asked. "I'm working in Maine, and I'm still not there."

It was the night after I attended a writing workshop. We were instructed to write our own memoir in six words or less. Mine? "Oyster lover stuck on a mountain."

And it was hard to admit that. Five years ago, Warwick and I had just returned from our honeymoon in New Zealand and began to debate a serious, life-changing move there. Warwick was a Kiwi and spousal visas were easy to obtain. Albeit a demotion, I could request a work transfer within my company, and soon be blogging about New Zealand's oyster industry. It sounded like our next great adventure.

We helicoptered over real estate, played guessing games on New Zealand's concept of home auctions, juggled exchange rates, and had called almost every mortgage lender in the country. It was happening.

Then, the pandemic hit. New Zealand closed its borders and we were thrust into a weird direction like so many others. We had dreamed of leaving our four condo walls long before isolation, so we began to search for our next best alternative in the US: a place with rolling hills, sheep paddocks, snowy mountaintops, and room to plant gardens.

It was Vermont.

We had close friends in the Upper Valley. I could finish my book there, tucked away with less distractions. We found a perfect red house on a hill with a young orchard, a big backyard, and an open sky with tangerine sunsets. When we arrived, autumn colors were flourishing all around us. Friendships deepened, and house projects kept us busy.

Then I quit my job for work in oysters (!), and things weren't aligning. It was if I had fixed one problem (work) and created another (distance). Every few weeks, I was making the 3-hour trek to Portland and crashing with friends. Our magical home in Vermont was where I found peace, but not my version of opportunity.

For years, definitive signs pointed towards Maine, but wow! We took the long way to get to here, from city to mountain to coast. It all became real when we found the new house this winter, an 1848 Cape Codder in downtown Bath. I'd be in the thick of community, oyster country, and an open lane for shellfish gastro-tourism. Maine had been such a strong part of my oyster journey, it felt right to plant roots here.

Along Route 1, Bath now gives me access to some of Maine's greatest oyster bays and rivers on the Mid Coast. The town is well-known for its colonial shipbuilding history along the Kennebec. In fact, the first English ship to arrive to Bath was called the pinnace Virginia. But beyond its modern heritage, I am most grateful to the Sagadahoc settlement of the Abenaki peoples for stewarding its beautiful land, rivers, and bounty, an act in which I now hope to take part.

We're down the road from our favorite team at OystHERS raw bar. We love the bread and coffee at Solo Pane and the beers at Bath Brewing. There's a farmers market every Saturday within walking distance. My retreats and tours are just 15 minutes from us, and none of our friends are too far away. This is a new dream, one that sometimes feels like luck or privilege, but also one in which I've worked hard to achieve. I invested a decade in corporate sales to one day break away from it and take a chance on myself, no matter the outcome.

We are very excited to be here. The house has seen some things and needs a little TLC, but rest assured, Warwick and I will give it a few more stories to talk about.

So here's to an "OFFISHELLY official" fresh start in Maine. Come up and see me! Let's eat oysters, sip bubbles, and take in the coastline. If that sounds heavenly, check out my upcoming retreats in June. Maybe it'll spark your next great adventure.