Georgia to Maine: Going the distance for an anniversary surprise

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 8:00am

Jamey and Lindsey Ackley planned to spend their fifth anniversary in Hawaii. COVID-19 dashed those plans, along with lobstering in the Florida Keys, and fishing in the waters of Pine Island Sound near a 1923 Fish House that holds a special place in the hearts of this young Georgia couple. The Fish House stands as an alluring entry to North Captiva Island, a little known boat-access-only Florida gem not unlike Maine’s Squirrel Island.

Determined to create a memorable celebration for his wife in spite of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, Jamey searched online for a painting of the Fish House, which led him to artist Ed Brown and ultimately Boothbay Harbor. Ed, who divides his time between Florida and Maine, shares a similar affinity for North Captiva Island and has created numerous paintings of the old Fish House. Jamey contacted Ed hoping to purchase one of Ed’s Fish House watercolor paintings Jamey had seen online. Learning the painting was unavailable, Ed suggested Jamey could commission a new painting as a surprise for his wife, initially unaware the couple’s anniversary was that weekend.

Ed emailed Jamey several photos of the Fish House and got to work as soon as Jamey selected the image he wanted him to paint. The two exchanged frequent communications as the painting evolved. Jamey didn’t skip a beat when Ed voiced concerns about his ability to finish and ship the painting to Georgia in time for the Ackely’s anniversary. “Take your time,” Jamey’s text read. “It’s possible that I can have Lindsey in Boothbay on Saturday.”

And indeed he did. Landing in Portland Friday evening, the Ackleys vowed to eat lobster at every meal as they made their way to a charming rental cottage on the outskirts of Boothbay. Saturday arrived with crisp air and sunshine, perfect for exploring Maine and enjoying a respite from the still sticky southern heat. Unbeknownst to his wife, Jamey steered their Saturday plans toward downtown Boothbay Harbor, to Ed Brown’s Wharfside Gallery where Lindsey’s new painting awaited her discovery.

Jamey had asked Ed to hang the painting on the wall of his gallery with a “sold” sign displayed on the artwork. Ed and his wife, Susan, waited eagerly for the Ackleys’ arrival and when they walked through the door, Jamey shot an expectant glance towards the Browns as the two couples exchanged pleasantries from opposite ends of the gallery. Lindsey’s casual browsing turned to utter astonishment when she noticed the watercolor of her beloved Fish House on the wall before her. “North Captiva!” she exclaimed. “Look, it’s the Fish House!” Disappointment flashed when she saw the “sold” sign on the glass, replaced by joy and disbelief when Jamey whispered something in her ear and she realized this was Jamey’s gift to her, beautifully gift-wrapped in a romantic weekend getaway to Maine.

Ed is currently wrapping up his 11th season in Boothbay Harbor. His gallery is located at 31 Commercial St. across from the Public Landing and will be open for the Harbor’s early-bird shopping festivities on Saturday, Nov. 21. You can also visit Ed Brown’s Wharfside Gallery on Facebook.