Down East Blog Blog Archive September, 2010
Once my daughter announced that she wanted to make a fairy house, I went to the best source I had. No, not Alan Lee and Brian Froud’s classic tome Faeries, but Down East’s own Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast. Next a suitable grove in a wood where Yeats might have taken a nap was located. Moose Point State Park in Searsport was chosen since it wasn’t too far away and it already had the hundred-year-old Big Spruce that any woodland denizen would be proud to call home.
Once there my family and I scoured, scavenged, rummaged, hunted, and rifled like mudlarks until a heap of stones, windfall berries, moss, ferns, driftwood, fungi, birch bark, and other woodland scraps awaited our nimble fingers.
Finding the appropriate fairy grove, though, was no picnic. It took a lot of traipsing about, backtracking, scouting, and Aragorn skills to finally uncover a hidden-away spot far enough away from the beaten path but not too far away that mortal eyes wouldn’t encounter the secret dwellings.
The summer clambake has always been a tradition in my family. Growing up on Cousins Island in Yarmouth, I don’t remember a summer season passing without the ritualistic day-long feast. Usually in the morning, my brother and dad and I would drive bare-footed and bathing suit-clad down the road to Madeleine Point, a local swimming cove. If it was low tide, it made our task of seaweed collecting quite easy. We’d pull the green strands from the exposed rocks they were fiercely attached to, and we’d fill coolers with the stuff and place it in the back of the car for the short trip home. If it was high tide, well then, we’d go swimming.
Back in the kitchen, my mom would be preparing the clams, which always need to be thoroughly scrubbed. And she’d take a few of them to make the clam broth in which you “clean” the steamers again at the table. And then there was the melted butter in little cups, which I remember carrying out precariously on trays to the lawn, if we were lucky, or the covered porch if it was a rainy day. She’d have already shopped, too, for the day’s fixings: the onions, potatoes, eggs, and corn that we piled on top of the fire to accompany the lobsters and clams.
The feeling of Fall has entirely settled in this week. Some of the trees outside my office windows are changing color, and my long-sleeved shirts have taken the prominent place in my closet. It was warm yesterday and I found myself thinking that I didn't want it to be warm. I was done with warm. The words of the day these days are crisp, colorful, calm, cozy. All "C" words, strangely. I'm not sure what that means, but the point is that I am feeling settled in and preparing for the quietude of the coming seasons in Maine.
The weather in Midcoast Maine has been just amazing the last few weeks. We had that hurricane scare a little while back, which turned out to be not much of anything, but since then it's been downright perfect. First it got cold at night. Waking up in the morning with the windows open and being just freezing has felt so good.
And recently we've had some wonderful late-summer thunderstorms. The other morning I woke up with my kids and dog hunkered down in my bed because the house was shaking from the sounds of the thundercrash.
And another great weather feature that we've been experiencing with some frequency — as a byproduct from our thunderstorms — has been rainbows. Here at the Down East offices I've spied three in the last week. On my way out last night I caught this one with my smartphone.
In honor of Hurricane Earl, who is making its way up the coast right now to whip up some winds, rain, and big surf, I asked our Facebook friends if they had any memories from Hurricane Bob, the last hurricane to hit the coast of Maine, back in 1991. The answers I received were so interesting and wonderful that I wanted to make sure we shared them. Go to www.facebook.com/downeastmagazine and look at the comments. The comments are so personal and thoughtful, you won't be sorry.
I, myself, remember Bob well. I was fifteen, visiting Squirrel Island for the month of August with my family, and though they evacuated anyone within a mile of the coast, the stalwart summer residents of the island mostly chose to stay. So they cut off our electricity and water (there are two water towers for emergency use on the island) and pulled up the docks, and we waited for the storm to overtake us.
The last time Maine saw three consecutive 90 degree days in a row was in Portland in 1999, according to the Bangor Daily News. So that makes this the first heat wave of the millenium. I'm not sure what that means exactly except that it's hot. I, along with many others, fled the Down East offices in search of some-place cooler to work. I ended up at Zoot in Camden, where I am writing this, which is air conditioned and which has delicious iced cofee.
And to think, at the beginning of this week I was imagining picking apples and sitting in the cool evening air, wearing a fleece, building a fire in the fire pit. Down East's facebook users are feeling the same way as I am too, it seems. Most of them say this is too hot too late in the season, and they too were wishing for a calm, cool, and quiet looking-foreward-to-fall kind of weekend.