Peace Corps friends Ilse and Carl invited me to their cottage in "the Grove," as it is affectionately called by the people who summer there, and I took them up on the invitation. So did our PC friend Jud, who now lives in Washington, DC. What a great place for a reunion of RPCVs who shared time in Ukraine!
Ilse and Carl, adventurers and world travelers, have summered at Asbury Grove for over 30 years."I fell in love with it the minute I saw it," Carl says. Over the years they've fixed up their cottage, modernized inside, added a great screened-in porch, and plan to paint the porch floor (deep aqua) and trim (eggplant purple), add "gingerbread" architectural features around the outside, and put in a garden. That cottage, in short, keeps them busy. Or, I should say it keeps Carl busy! They love it. And now their children and grandchildren do too.
A precious sense of community predominates. Fellowship, bonds of friendship, the ties that bind. It's easy to feel as if you belong, even if you are a stranger.
Residents proudly note that Asbury Grove is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As part of the application process, residents researched the architecture of the cottages--Victorian Gothic, Italianate, Vernacular--and the history of the community. It was a labor of love, with many volunteer hours donated. The folks of the Grove (including Carl) continue to do research, collect records, photos and memorabilia, and work with top-notch archivists, who are also residents, to preserve and digitize their collections (I think at Boston University) for future generations. A "wholesome" place, as Jud put it. A community of kindred spirits, rare in this day and age.
On top of sharing a great community, Ilse and Carl, generous and accommodating hosts, took Jud and me to tour nearby towns along the beautiful North Cape area: Ipswich, Halibut Point, Rockport, Newburyport, Gloucester and the Rocky Neck Art Colony, and historic sites like the Choate bridge (1764) and the General Patton house, soon to be a museum. We browsed at antique shops, souvenir stores, and various galleries; admired ocean fronts, boats, ships and lighthouses; reminisced about our PC days in Ukraine; shared fantastic meals and camaraderie. Best of all, we savored a kinship that crosses time and space, and made many new memories. Historic Americana all the way. A feast for the spirit, food for the soul.