Come out if you can!
This time of year is a heartbreaker. That late summer golden afternoon light. The bounty of the garden coming into its own. The change in the air that tells you summer is waning and fall is on its way. Heat begins to give way to a chill in the air. Excitement for cooler days but grief at how quickly that Maine summer magic leaves us. So it is and so it goes. No better time than the present for a spin around the garden and yard to try and capture this in-between time.
August marks the beginning of our third year here in Palermo. I'm looking forward to seeing how our gardens transform in the coming years. I'll be sure to share the progress.
As this summer draws to a close I've been thinking about important milestones and significant anniversaries. Ten years ago this summer Mike and I got married. 15 years ago today (happy anniversary!) my younger sister, Anna, got married to her husband Tom. And twenty years ago this summer I first went to St. Petersburg, Russia on a college study abroad program, staying through the end of the year. We all have formative experiences and my first several months in Russia were definitely that. Because of that first time there I returned a few years later to live and work. My experiences in Russia were wonderful, exciting, illuminating, terrible, fascinating, amazing, frightening...basically all the adjectives. I made several incredible friendships, some of which have lasted, some of which are pleasant memories that have faded but are not forgotten. I fell in love for the first time. I saw dead bodies for the first time, casualties of a sometimes violent and ruthless era in post-Soviet life. I took risks that only young people take and was fortunate to walk away with stories to tell and not cautionary tales. I was filled with a deep wanderlust in my twenties and that first summer in 'Peterburg' helped to fuel that spirit. Traveling fed my soul until it didn't anymore and now twenty years later I'm happily living a good life on our farm in Palermo, Maine, two miles from my childhood home. I'll return to Russia again someday but until then I can look back through photos, surround myself in memories and be filled with gratitude for the experiences that led me to where I find myself today. And isn't that really what this life is about?
Yesterday was our tenth (!) anniversary. To celebrate we took the day off and headed up the coast to explore an area of Maine we didn't know that well. It was a hot but sunny day, perfect for exploring.
First requisite stop: Chase's Daily in Belfast for some coffee and pastries for the road, and some produce from their beautiful farmstand in the back of their space.
We headed up Route 1 north of Belfast and pulled off to check out Cape Jellison and Fort Point Light in Stockton Springs.
After a quick visit to Fort Point Light, we headed for Route 1 again, stopping to snap a photo of this, one of my favorite houses in Stockton Springs. I don't know if it's abandoned (seems like someone maintains it) but its glory days have clearly passed. Old houses have such stories to tell, I so wish to know some of this home's tales.
Our primary destination of the day was Cape Rosier in Brooksville. Cape Rosier is home to Helen and Scott Nearing's former homestead, now The Good Life Center, in Harborside. When Mike and I got married ten years ago, we hadn't even been bitten by the gardening bug yet, let alone know that by the end of our first decade of marriage we'd have left Portland and be living in the country, on 30 acres near where we grew up. How our goals and plans coalesced over the past ten years was influenced by many writers, including the Nearings and a few others also living in this special spot in Maine. It only seemed right for us to visit on this anniversary to show gratitude to those who unknowingly helped shape our life's path.
If Mike and I had to choose the one book that most inspired us to leave the city and do what we're doing now it would probably be the book "Maine Farm: A Year of Country Life" by Stanley Joseph and Lynn Karlin, a chronicle of a year in this former couple's life in the late-eighties on the property the Nearings originally lived in when they moved to Maine, next door to The Good Life Center. Now a rental property, we could only sneak a peek from the woods. It was strange and a little sad to see a place we know so well from a specific moment in time (nearly 30 years ago) detailed in the book be transformed by time and nature into someplace altogether different. It was good to have seen it, however, and make the connection with the book.
Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch's Four Season Farm is just down the road from The Good Life Center. As we began to garden beginning in 2007, we read all of their books and still turn to them for frequent reference. It was lovely to see the farm in person.
We went analog on our travels, relying on the Gazetteer to plot our course from Cape Rosier down to Deer Isle and Stonington.
After a late lunch at El El Frijoles (get it?) in Sargentville, we traveled down to Stonington for coffee and ice cream. Not at the same time.
44 North Coffee is a roaster in Deer Isle with a cafe in Stonington as well. Loved the coffee and the space.
After our caffeine and sugar break we drove up the west side of Stonington and the east side of Deer Isle, stopping for mini excursions.
Next we drove out to Eggemoggin at the end of Little Deer Isle.
Last stop of the day was in Castine for dinner. Of course we ordered the "Pickled Snot Wrinkles" at Dennett's Wharf Restaurant. A creative (ahem) name for pickled whelks or sea snails. They were pretty good actually.
It was a perfect day of exploring with Mike. The past ten years have been so fast, so full, and we've worked hard to fulfill our dreams. Can't wait to see what the next ten years and beyond brings. I feel so privileged to share this life with such a wonderful partner. Thanks, love.
With the mild weather we've been having in Maine, there hasn't been much in the way of good ice skating conditions this winter.
Last week I thought I might be able to get out on the farm pond one cold and sunny afternoon but was disappointed to find its surface covered with a generous scattering of twigs, leaves and other tree castoffs, each herbaceous ornament perfectly embedded in the ice just enough to prevent being swept away, but not covered by a solid surface of ice. Lovely to look at, impossible to skate on.
Plans thwarted, I did the next best thing and took some photos of the botanicals on ice. Winter in Maine may not be easy much of the time but it sure is gloriously beautiful.