As we were preparing Brightline, our 25-foot Old Port Launch, for another season on the water, we went back to the Wind in the Willows to get the quotation exactly right. And were reminded that it was Ratty who observed that “there’s nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” And it was to young Mole, who had never stepped foot on any boat, he said it.
Memorial Day is Monday and with it comes a rush of impressions, especially because the holiday is the starting bell for our season every year here at Spruce Point.
Memorial Day began after the Civil War, as a way to unify the country by remembering those on both sides who gave their lives in defense of their principles. Created by women who – if you remember the line from “Gone With the Wind” – wanted to “beautify the graves of our glorious dead.
We talk a lot here about the responsibility we feel for sustaining our environment. Whether it’s removing weeds with salt water or creating our “lobster buoy” signal guests hang on the doorknob to let housekeeping know they’re all set with linens for the day (thus reducing water use, laundry impacts and overuse of resources), we take our stewardship of Spruce Point seriously by actively engaging in green practices.
Mother’s Day approaches, bringing to mind all those Spring days around the brunch table, birds chorusing outside, tulips and flowering branches bobbing in the breeze. It was hard to tell indoors from out, in a dining room filled with pastel wrappings, bouquets of lilac or forsythia (depending on the whims of sunshine) and a menu of fluffy omelette and croissants, or my mother’s favorite: waffles and a new batch of maple syrup. The conversation bubbled with the wine and everyone was smiling.
Checking in on the Boothbay Register timelapse webcam of the 2014 Fishermen’s Festival in Boothbay last weekend, we were captivated by a webcam that caught the 2013 blizzard. (Yes, we know, it’s nearly May – but the Atlantic Coast is holding onto winter, as if it’s saving the best weather for your summer stay!). In the span of the 48-hour storm, the webcam captures hardy souls venturing in and out of Brown’s Wharf, the pickup trucks, the evidence of plows and a sidewalk snow-shoveler as regular as a metronome. But what’s more fascinating is the way the ‘invisible’ sweep of the wind is made visible. While everything else covers up after the plow has passed, one intersection stays gray and as a line of white is pushed out of the way by the wind.
Wondrous strange. That’s the title of a Farnsworth Museum of Art book on the Wyeth family of painters. Starting with illustrator NC, and following on through Andrew and his son Jamie, the Wyeths have put images of Maine in people’s heads for a century. It’s the wondrous light. The Yankee forbearance. The translation of the living ethic, “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” into images of dories and pastures and spruces against the sky that also characterize the people in this sometimes hard place at land’s edge.
Though weather maps look like Easter eggs this week, with colorful bands of cool greens on the northern tier, milder yellows in the interior and dark coral stretched across the southland, we have had stretches of sunshine that allow the grass to start to grow and the pastel buds of spring foliage to emerge on the maple trees.
Peter Matthiessen, the celebrated author of The Far Tortuga and The Snow Leopard sought the Zen goal of being completely in the moment. His descriptions avoided metaphor, preferring the single observed characteristic that put the reader in place and time where his story was set. The traveler’s search for authentic places resonates with this immersion in the location and in the appreciation for everything your senses tell you about the actual place, “like” nothing else.
Perhaps this is why lighthouses are so compelling.
A recent query from Fodors.com got us thinking about the magical gardens we sometimes take for granted. As the green noses of the spring bulbs emerge in the sunny spaces between ice clumps, the scents and colors of summer emerge from the underground storage of our memories, too. The thousands of lilies – planted by Don Celler, retired commercial lily grower who now lives here in Boothbay – the perennial gardens, even the hanging flower baskets that brighten every turn are all nurtured with an appreciation for the fleeting, fragile beauty that the summer brings to Maine.
May of this year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of “The Maine Woods” by Henry David Thoreau. A man who understood the inseparability of people and place – and who went to some trouble to immerse himself in the wild places he loved, from Walden Pond to Cape Cod to the White Mountains – it was Maine that Thoreau considered among the wildest of wild places.
He made two trips in 1856 and 1857, attempting to summit Mount Katahdin by the more difficult route; paddling the Allagash and descending the Penobscot via the Ripogenus Gorge. The 1864 publication puts his considerations of the Maine Woods in a context of the American Civil War. A time when many gave careful thought to the alternatives.