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In August 2000 we were invited to spend a week on the Maine coast, to witness the ritual retreat of eastern wealth and intellect to a "summer place" for climatic relief and spiritual refreshment. Powerful forces at rest were as present in social gatherings as in the sun-drenched granite ledges and slowly moving tides. But it was indeed a pleasure. Some call California's northern coast the world's most beautiful meeting of land and sea; at low tide on a summer evening that acolade surely belongs to Maine.