Maine

Changing Times

At one time Maine was a prosperous state thanks to lumber, textiles, boat building and fish packing.  Those days are gone as one business after another has disappeared. A dwindling economy means that many of the small towns that define Maine are having to reinvent themselves to give folks opportunity to make a living. Two midcoast towns that have done just that are Belfast and Rockland.

Belfast Belfast once relied on chicken and sardine packing to provide its economy.  Today, those businesses and the associated smells have been replaced with restaurants, galleries and retail shops.

For us, it is easy to go to Belfast on the boat which means a fun outing and a great way to entertain guests. Favorite stops are Chase’s Daily, a combination vegetarian restaurant and farmers market featuring flowers and produce brought in daily from the owner’s farm.

I stock up on those things, but my very favorite thing is the chocolate cherry cookies that are irresistible!

New on the scene since last year is a year round farmers market that sells everything from handmade goods to cheese to meats to produce.  One can spend a couple of hours there browsing and snacking on Saturdays from 9 until 2.

IMG_2045Rockland has undergone a complete metamorphosis in recent years.  When we started coming to Maine 26 years ago, we held our noses and quickly passed through.  These days Rockland prides itself for being the state’s art capital.

IMG_2044It is home to the Farnsworth, one of the country’s best small art museums. It has an extensive collection of Maine related art, but the real draw is the work of the Wyeth’s: Andrew, N. C. and Jamie.

IMG_2047An exciting addition to the  community is CMCA (Center for Maine Contemporary Art), formerly located in Rockport.  Early on, some were concerned about its architectural style not complementing buildings dating back to the 1800’s, but that worry has dissipated and CMCA adds a vibrancy to the flourishing art scene.

IMG_2043As many charms as Maine has, the sad truth is that it is a poor state.  So much of the economy depends on summer tourism, but aside from the coast there is not much to draw visitors.  With dwindling opportunity, it becomes increasingly important for small towns to respond to changing times.

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History, Maine

Island Stories

Vinalhaven is another of Maine’s islands with a year round population and an interesting history. At one time it was known for quarries where granite was cut for use in buildings in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. among other places.

DSC00085Today the quarries are abandoned though there remains evidence of their existence.

DSC00138Quarry men are of the past and now most of the residents depend on lobstering for a living and, to a lesser degree, tourism.

DSC00080 (1)Well known folks have lived on the island.  Until his recent passing, Robert Indiana maintained a studio on Vinalhaven and it was a favorite place for  Margaret Wise Brown. If the name isn’t familiar, her children’s books likely are. Particularly notable is Goodnight Moon still popular all over the world.

DSC00150She had two cottages on Vinalhaven, one she named The Only because it was the only one on that side of the island.

DSC00077Close to it she built another small quirky cottage with no electricity or running water and it became a favorite retreat.

DSC00067Inside are reminders of her presence. In the kitchen are cookbooks from another era.

DSC00068In the  simply furnished main room are nooks close to the fireplace where she would warm an evening brandy.

DSC00070There are shelves lined with children’s books, of course including some of hers.

DSC00118Margaret loved fairies and on the property is a flat area she called the fairy ballroom and a water filled quarry which is the fairy pool.

DSC00096How she must have loved the views from atop a defunct quarry.  They are some of the most stunning views of Penobscot Bay I have ever seen.

DSC00073The islands in the distance, bisected by the ferry that runs from Rockland, are breathtaking making it very easy to see why Margaret Wise Brown was enchanted with the island.

DSC00153It is here she rests. She died when only 42 suffering an embolism after a relatively minor surgery. One day she will be joined here by the man to whom she was engaged and to whom she left this beautiful place.  I believe she would be happy to know that three generations continue to enjoy her special place and share it with friends.

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Maine

Island Stories

Of the more than 3,000 islands off the coast of Maine, only 14 have year round inhabitants. One is Islesboro with a population of less than 600 people. It has a K-12 school and, unlike most islands, it is accessible by ferry leaving from Lincolnville Beach which  makes it possible for islanders to work and attend school on the mainland.

At the ferry landing there is a lighthouse which, like so many others, is no longer active.

If one doesn’t mind climbing narrow, rickety steps to the top,  there is a nice view of Penobscot Bay and the mainland.

There was a time when Indians summered on Islesboro, fishing and trapping.  Early white settlers earned their living farming and fishing.  Some of the history of these early inhabitants is in the Islesboro Sailors Memorial Museum and the Islesboro Historical Society and Museum.

At one time, Islesboro was home to the largest commercial shipping fleet in Penobscot Bay.  Life on the island changed, however, in the late 1800’s when wealthy folks from away discovered it and built stately homes, many of which are being used today by fifth and sixth generations of families.  As wealthy folks began spending time on Islesboro, the islanders adapted to their needs by becoming  carpenters and gardeners thus livelihood became more dependent on summer people.   Would you be surprised to learn that it took some time for the islanders to develop a cordial relationship with their new neighbors?

Islesboro, with its beautiful vistas, is like stepping back in time.

It is peaceful and a wonderful setting for relaxing or exploring.  A number of celebrities have found it a place to spend time without being bothered. For many years the pace was slow and transportation was by horse drawn carriage. It wasn’t until 1932 after summer people were gone that islanders voted to allow cars on the island.  That was a radical change, but it made life easier for those who were there year round.

Islesboro is just one of Maine’s islands with a rich history, and it’s fascinating to learn about past and present life on many of them.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine

When Company Comes

Boy, it’s hard to keep up with blog writing and reading during the summer months when I am in Maine. If you’ve been along with me for a while, you know we do lots of boating, and there’s more that keeps me crazily busy. We have lots of company which means extra meals and some pretty quick turnarounds when it comes to preparing for the next round of guests. I’m not complaining though because we are very lucky to have this special place to share.

So, what do we do when company comes? The first night is simple. We have a lobster dinner which is such an easy one to prepare. The hubby steams or grills the lobster leaving me the simple task of roasting potatoes and corn

blueberry cobblerand making a blueberry cobbler from those yummy wild Maine blueberries. You can be sure no morsel is left.

Perry CreekThe boat makes entertaining simple. We may go to a beautiful cove

lobster rolland have lobster rolls aboard.

IMG_1481One of the nice things about having a power boat is that you can plan an outing and know how long it takes to get to a destination. There are several places that can be reached conveniently for a lunch on the deck.  Luke’s is one of our favorites.

IMG_1484With fresh seafood abundant, most folks go for a delicious haddock sandwich, fish and chips or a clam roll. Oh, and some choose lobster again since there’s no such thing as too much when you are visiting!

wyeth-web-2
Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

On those occasions when the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are two quite wonderful art museums in nearby Rockland. CMCA has rotating exhibits of contemporary art and the Farnsworth Art Museum has an outstanding permanent collection. In both, all the art is created by artists who have a connection to Maine and that includes such famous names as Winslow Homer, George Bellows, Alex Katz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, Andrew Wyeth and many more.

This time of year a favorite place to visit is the Endless Summer dahlia farm where there are 250 varieties of breathtakingly beautiful dahlias.

PA179261 (1).jpgTaking a walk on the dirt road is always a pleasure and a great place to take photos.

Children's ChapelAlong the way a stop at the Children’s Chapel is a delight to the senses. No matter the season, it is a tranquil oasis with  stunning views of Penobscot Bay.

So, do you get a feel for that which keeps me away from the computer for days on end? I so delight in the gift that is the coast of Maine and am always happy to share it with you though there may be gaps between posts.  Speaking of, I better get the beds made before the next friends arrive.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Boating, Maine

A Beautiful, Beautiful Bay

There are many reasons I enjoy time in Maine.  Primarily, it’s the natural beauty of the coast, especially as seen from the water which is my happy place.

Penobscot Bay is our cruising ground, and it is one of the most perfect boating places on either coast. I like nothing better than setting out in the early morning when the sea is calm and the sky a brilliant blue.

winter/lobster boatsExcept for an occasional lobster boat that left its mooring long before us, it is not surprising for there to be no other boats around early in the day.

Out in the bay, there are islands, hundreds of them created thousands of years ago by volcanic action.

islandMost are uninhabited, covered with spruce. Looking at them, I am reminded of the Tlingit stories having to do with regrowth that were heard recently in Alaska. How is it that nature can recreate without help from man?

Here and there a building is spotted, giving indication of life there now or in an earlier time.

Pumpkin Island lighthouse

Many of the islands have lighthouses, some still active but most not.  I always try to imagine the life of the lighthouse keeper whose job it was to keep boaters safe.

Some islands are connected to the mainland by a bridge.  This recently constructed one goes to Deer Isle where the much visited Acadia National Park is located.

Heading north from Rockport Harbor, islands are not all we see. High above Camden are the rolling hills which is why Camden is described as Where the Mountains Meet the Sea. What a wonderful combination!

Pipe DreamsAs we go along, I study the charts which identify the islands and make notes about islands that may hold possibility for picnics and new discoveries.

Moon over Penobscot 2 - Version 2Yes, Penobscot Bay is a beautiful, beautiful bay, Spruce covered headlands jut boldly from its shores, jewel like islands float on its surface and the gentle, glacier rounded contours of the Camden Hills look down on its broad reaches. 

Louise Dickinson Rich, Coast of Maine.

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Maine

Think Maine, Think Lobster

IMG_9061Mention Maine and it seems the first thing people think about is lobster.  It is true that lobster is plentiful in Maine and at a lesser cost than in many places so people do indulge when visiting.

lobster shackWhere do you find these tasty crustaceans?  Along the coast, they are available at any number of roadside shacks selling lobster in all its forms.

Red's EatsPerhaps the most well know is Red’s Eats in Wiscassett.  

Red's EatsI’m not sure how it got so famous, but rain or shine you can be sure there is a line of folks waiting to order.

IMG_7293 (1)Red’s may draw the crowds, but I like best the shacks that are on the water.

lobster boatsThere you can eat outside and watch the comings and goings of the lobster boats.

IMG_7309You can be sure there is competition among these lobster shacks with each one claiming to serve the best.  Now, I can tell the difference between lobster rolls, but with steamed lobsters it’s  hard to distinguish among them.

  lobster rollWhen it comes to lobsters, there are two places I enjoy them most.  One is on the boat anchored off an island enjoying a picnic with a good lobster roll, one that is mixed with a little mayonnaise and nothing more.

The other is at home where we serve up some pretty good lobster be it steamed or as an ingredient in a tasty dish. 

lobster mac 'n cheese
Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese

No matter how it’s prepared, I never get tired of it and hope those lobsters continue to abound off the Maine coast.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Flowers, Maine

A Look Around

For the next few months, the hubby and I have left Houston behind for Rockport, Maine. The two places are oh so different with a major difference being the plant life.

rhododendrons/flowersArriving in Maine, the first thing I do is walk around the yard where so many varieties of  blooming plants color the landscape. This year we missed the azaleas but were in time for the rhodendrons to be in full splendor.

lilacs/flowersAlongside them, the sweet smell of lilacs fills the air.

IMG_1365I was pleased to see the viburnum blooming more profusely than in recent years, but they also remind me how important it is to keep them trimmed or they can crowd out everything else.

peonyPeonies are staked thanks to advanced help and are filled with tight little buds that won’t pop for another week or two.  Just the thought of those beauties makes my heart race.

flowers/bachelor buttonTo my surprise, bachelor buttons had sprung up among the ferns.

flowersBeautiful alliums are hanging in there, but it will be only a matter of days before they are done and ready to dry for fall arrangements.

IMG_1355It is too late in the day to do more than look around, but that’s time enough to plan what needs to happen next.  And, with all this beauty, it’s impossible to resist cutting a few blooms to take inside where they add color and joy.  It doesn’t take much to make me feel right at home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind