Collecting Memories

IMG_1778 (1)It’s that time of year when boating is all but over. Pipe Dreams is put away for the season leaving only the kayak for a last outing. No matter how many times I paddle Rockport Harbor it’s always different. This time I want to take it all in as what I see will be stored in my head as memories for winter.

IMG_1865The tide is low which fully exposes the seaweed attached to the rocks. Its texture reminds me of a witch’s hair, appropriate, I guess, as it’s that time of year.

IMG_1870Until I spotted some movement, I completely missed the ducks marching across the rocks. What a perfect blend!

IMG_1726Sailboats line the mouth of the harbor waiting their turn to be hauled out and stored until next season. All of these boats are familiar as they’ve passed by my windows many times during the summer.

DSC01516The schooner Heron is heading out to Penobscot Bay with a full load of passengers. She, too, will soon be gone as she goes south for the winter.

lobster boats/Rockport HarborAll the lobster boats are in for the day.

IMG_1759The last one has just unloaded its haul and the truck is ready to pull away with its bounty. Boy, I’ll miss that easy access to lobster!

IMG_1914Now on the other side of the harbor it makes me smile to see people enjoying a beautiful afternoon. With cold weather coming, folks take advantage of every opportunity to be outside beneath a warm sun.

DSC00018 (1)Passing this boat reminds me of fun summer dinners and afternoon of mahjong.  Talk about a great place to have people gather!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not the only one out taking advantage of sunshine and blue sky. There are other kayakers,

IMG_1919a paddle boarder braving the cooling water

IMG_1794and someone capturing her own images of this beautiful place.

IMG_1773As I turn and head home, I pass a loon which is a most unusual sight on the harbor as loons tend to be more common around fresh water. I wonder if this evening we will hear its mournful calls or if it will have found its way back to more familiar environs.

IMG_1812I see home drawing near, and I think one more time how lucky I am to spend time in this wonderful place. I am happy to have you share it with me.

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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.

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Foiled!

dirt road winterEach year during the holidays we return to Maine for a taste of winter.  A few days is generally enough to tell us we are happy not to have to endure more.   There is something good to be said about winter in Houston.

The schooners that sail Penobscot Bay all summer were bound in shrink wrap to protect them from winter weather.

IMG_0080Some brave soul had braved the cold long enough to shimmy up the mast to top it with a tree.

IMG_0092The schooner was not the only thing to sport a tree.  So did the fuel dock at Rockport Marine where we fill Pipe Dreams with diesel to keep her running on our summer boating adventures.

IMG_0097It was so cold that the harbor was partially frozen, a sight not often seen.

IMG_0103The ice locked in place the few lobster boats that remained in the water.

Rockport Harbor - sea smoke 188 MASTERWith the temperatures well below freezing,  sea smoke floated across the water, a sight full of mystery and beauty.

IMG_0090Snow made the landscape a winter wonderland.

IMG_0083With their wooly coats, sheep seemed able to  bear the cold but they stayed close to the barn since the snow in the pasture was too deep for them to frolic

IMG_0110Yes, these are visions of winter, but this holiday was foiled by an Arctic blast with temperatures so cold outside as to be almost unbearable for more than a few minutes.  To make matters worse, the heat in our house was not working properly meaning that we stayed bundled up and spent most of our time in front of the fireplace.  We stood it for two days before the hubby decided he’d had enough of 40 degree temps in the house.  Though weather foiled our stay, it was long enough to capture some of the season’s magic and gave us yet another memory of the time we spend in Maine.

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Little Piece of Heaven

Going to Maine is like my favorite fleece: the people and the memories just wrap me up in warmth and it feels like home.

I’m not sure from where I copied those words, but they sum up my feelings about returning to Maine.  Perhaps I wouldn’t love it so much if I were here all the time, but for  five plus months it is my little piece of heaven where all the stresses and concerns of life are diminished. 

So, what is it that makes Maine so special?  Well, there are a lot of things, but here are a few of my favorites. 

lobster rollLobster rolls

Walking on the dirt road

Tini time on the porch

Pipe DreamsExcursions on Pipe Dreams

MusselsFinding mussel heaven

lobster boatLobster boats

Rockport HarborRockport Harbor

fall/sunsetSunsets

There’s all this and so much more, and during the next few months I invite you to share Maine with me.

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Let Summer Begin!

Pipe DreamsUntil Pipe Dreams is back at the dock and we’ve had our first boat outing, summer hasn’t begun.  Thanks to blustery seas, it’s taken a few days to get that first trip underway.

Rockport Pano 6X18Leaving Rockport Harbor behind I begin to see all the familiar sights that are so dear.  

Indian Island Indian Island with its lighthouse still stands guard at the mouth of the harbor, and in the distance a schooner loaded with visitors is powered by a gentle breeze.

islandFarther out are the islands  that separate us from the Atlantic Ocean and make this part of the Maine coast the absolute best for boating.

North Haven/llobster buoysLobster buoys dot the water,

lobster boatsand the lobster guys are out doing their thing which reminds me I haven’t yet had a lobster!

cloudsHigh above are clouds floating in a clear blue sky, and I wonder how life could be any more perfect than at this moment.   I close my eyes in gratitude for the privilege of being in this beautiful place.

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Exploring New Places

Damariscotta RiverIt’s possible we will never explore all that the coast of Maine has to offer, but we do give it a good try.  This time out, we ventured south to the Damariscotta River .  Getting there was a bumpy ride thanks to southwest winds, but once we reached the river we were in calm water with houses on both sides nestled in heavy woods.  Have I ever mentioned that Maine has a LOT of trees?

Damariscotta RiverI hadn’t expected to see lobster pots in the river, but though fewer, there they were and the holiday didn’t keep lobstermen from checking their traps.

As we went upriver, we noticed a difference in the type of boats.  No sailboats and though there were a couple of sizeable power boats,

Damariscotta River more common were smaller recreational craft.

DamariscottaAt the river’s head is the lovely little town of Damariscotta

Damariscottaour destination for oysters on the deck at Schooner Landing.

Maine facesIt seems a number of others had the same idea as there was no place for another boat to tie up.  We were saved by a friendly boater who allowed us to raft up to his vessel.  Talk about a Maine accent, this guy had it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About oysters,  Damariscotta has long been known for them, but these days the natural grown ones are gone thanks to overfishing.  Common now on the river are sights like this where oysters mature after having been seeded.  If you can believe it, 60-70 million oysters are harvested annually from the river, and they are delicious.  In late September, Damariscotta hosts an oyster festival where one can eat oysters prepared in a variety of ways to his heart’s content.

lobster trapsAfter lunch, we made way to Christmas Cove, our destination for the night, passing through what is called The Gut which separates Rutherford Island from the mainland at South Bristol.  This is an active lobsterman’s harbor as evidenced by platforms stacked with their paraphernalia

lobster boatand the fact that lobster boats far outnumber pleasure craft.  Old Glory qualifies as the most unique one I have seen and makes me think its owner has a real sense of pride and, perhaps, humor.

Christmas CoveIn minutes, we arrived at Christmas Cove where Captain John Smith dropped anchor on Christmas 1614.  It is said to have been a favorite spot for sailors ever since, and with its serene surroundings it is easy to see why.

Pipe DreamsIndeed, it was a peaceful spot where we found ourselves alone at the pier indicating that the summer crowd has lessened which is the beauty of boating in September and October.

MaizyAfter a long day, Maizy is looking to record our adventures.  She will have lots to remember!

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Winter

Rockport Harbor/winter Winter, a time of icy cold

Rockport Harbor/winter/sunsetand early evening sunsets looming low beyond leafless trees, opening views to the sea.

Rockport Harbor/winter/lobster boats
Winter, a time when lobster boats are silent

Rockport Harbor/winterand a lonely craft waits for spring.

dirt road winterWinter, a time of sparkling beauty,

wintersnowshoes and cold noses.

What is winter to you?

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A Real Metamorphosis

Rockp[ort HarborAs temperatures drop and leaves begin falling like rain, there is a real metamorphosis occurring on Rockport Harbor.  

Heron, schoonerHeron has taken her last boatload of passengers for a cruise on Penobscot Bay and will soon head south to host cruises in warmer climes.

lobster boat/Rockport HarborThough lobster boats continue to go out, they leave hours later than in summer. Lobstermen are bundled up to protect against the chill wind that is blowing across the bay.   For most who work out of Rockport Harbor, lobstering will cease the end of this month.

lobster boatAs the boats return to the harbor these days,  sterns are stacked with pots that will be put away until late spring.  That is a sure sign the lobster season is winding down.

Rockport HarborDocks, covered with tarps, float in the harbor waiting their turn to be pulled

Rockport Harborand mooring balls are gathered to be cleaned and stored.  This I am very grateful for because when left in the water the lines accumulate kelp, mussels and debris that makes them near impossible to pull from the water.  Since that is my job during boating season, I like for the lines to be clear!  

sailboat/Rockport HarborOne by one sailboat masts are lowered and sails removed making them ready to be motored to the boatyard where they will be hauled and stored until next year.

Rockport HarborYes, there is metamorphosis  on the harbor, and what I notice most is our dock sitting empty but for a couple of lines.  Pipe Dreams is in her winter resting place leaving us with another year of memories exploring the beauty of the coast of Maine.

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Eagle Island: A Favorite

One of my favorite islands to visit is Eagle, for us about a 30 minute boat ride from Rockport Harbor.  It is a 263 acre island that once was prosperous and, if memory serves me, was home to a casino. Today, Eagle is owned by and home to one family with a long Eagle history and to vacationers who rent a cottage there for a real get away from it all experience.
Eagle IslandArriving at the dock, we share space with the owner’s lobster boat.
Eagle Island,lobster buoysTraps line the dock, and buoys hang from the shack ready for the next time to be put out.
Eagle IslandWalking along paths to explore the island, there are remnants of times past. Eagle IslandIt’s easier to leave worn out vehicles and farm equipment where they fall than to get them off island.

Eagle IslandEagle IslandEagle IslandEagle IslandIf the island owners are to be found, we can get a key that allows us to visit the old schoolhouse that hasn’t been used since the 1950’s.  I love this building with its old fashioned desks and that was once heated by a pot belly stove.  There are books and magazines there that date back to the early 20th century, and the blackboard is filled with signatures of visitors.

Eagle IslandA real treat is meeting Mr. Quinn who in his dry Maine way can entertain for hours with tales about the history of Eagle and Butter Islands.  If we are really lucky, he  reads us some of the humorous poems written by his grandfather.  My all time favorite of Mr. Quinn’s lines  is when asked how people found out about renting on the island, he answered that his daughter did something online but he didn’t know anything about that.  The only line he knew about was the one attached to a lobster pot!  I still chuckle remembering that response.

Eagle IslandIf a summer visit is timed right, it’s possible to find sun warmed raspberries bursting with flavor growing along a path.  I can assure you they never make it back to the boat!

Eagle IslandViewing the canvases that are sunsets and sunrises off Eagle is reason enough to anchor and spend the night.  When night falls, a velvety sky fills with stars twinkling like diamonds, another of the gifts found in Maine.  Is it any wonder I love this place?

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Underway!

Pipe DreamsPipe Dreams is fueled and ready.  All necessities are stowed away, so let’s get this adventure underway.

Swan's Island
Swan’s Island

First stop on the journey to Nova Scotia is a 2 hour jaunt to Swan’s Island, one of the 15 or so Maine islands that is inhabited year round.  

Swan's IslandAs you might guess from the lobster boats anchored in the harbor, most residents earn a living fishing, and they are protective of their space both on the water and the shore.  Swan's IslandThe island is also a great escape for those wishing to experience a more tranquil existence.

Swan's IslandThe reason for our going there is to attend the very quirky Sweet Chariot Music Festival that for 26 years has brought together a potpourri of musicians from the East and West Coasts who enjoy getting together to casually entertain an enthusiastic audience.

Swan's IslandHours before the show, the performers cruise the harbor serenading all of us on our boats with sea chanteys.

Swan's IslandA flotilla of small craft ranging from kayaks to dinghies to motor boats accompany them.  I have to say this is one of those events that is totally a Maine thing, and there is such absolute joy in that!

Swan's IslandThe performance is in a very old building slightly more than a mile trek from the harbor, so we get a little exercise thrown in.

Swan's IslandAlong the way, enterprising youngsters sell lemonade and cookies, and they have lots of eager customers who are huffing and puffing up the hill.

Swan's IslandThe concert appears to be something of an opportunity for socializing as the crowd gathers early to gossip and greet friends.

Swan's IslandSwan's IslandSwan's IslandSwan's IslandInside, it is crowded, and the chairs are hard, I mean really hard, but once the show begins all anyone focuses on is having a good time.

There’s more to the Swan’s Island story than I am telling.  That has a lot to do with me trying to pull in a mooring ball that had about 500 pounds of kelp on it without allowing the line to touch the varnish on the trim.  The hubby just didn’t get that that was an impossible feat, so use your imagination to fill in the blanks.  It may be a very good thing that nobody was photoing that part of the experience because it was a comedy of errors.  There’s likely more to come!

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