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The enchanted season of the ‘wondrous strange’

“Wondrous strange” is how Andrew Wyeth and his family describe the Maine coastal villages and upland haunts they paint in landscapes familiar to generations of Americans. The new exhibit at the Farnsworth Museum in nearby Rockland showcases some of those strange and wonderful things. “Every Picture Tells a Story”  features the illustrations of N.C. Wyeth, the patriarch of the clan, who painted pirates and prisoners, Native Americans like the Wabanaki who knew the shores and woodlands of the dawnland long before Spruce Point ever got its name and an assortment of characters ideally suited for ghost stories on an October evening.

Trusting in the lasting legacy of the land

Our friends at Maine, the magazine, did a story a few years ago about the land trusts of the state – the people and acres who ensure that the beauty of the place and its ecosystem are sustained. As the editors wrote, “A journey to Maine has always promised an escape into the woods, a breath of fresh air, and … pristine beaches. Thanks to a network of grassroots conservationists this will continue to be true. Forever.”

In autumn, in particular, we love to share such places – the land trusts, the gardens, the wildlife areas (currently filled with migrating birds) – that our partners, including the Boothbay Region Land Trust and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, are dedicated to preserving for all to enjoy.

Nothing gold can stay

Autumn is the golden season – the goldenrod along the side of the road. The black-eyed Susans and yellow asters. The jewelweed and the marsh grass as it turns from green with each tide. Pots of chrysanthemums at the farm stands. And, of course, the leaves.

When he wrote that “nothing gold can stay,” Robert Frost was talking about the leaves – the first ones of the spring foliage season, that are like gold fringe in the branches. But the same is true of the birch and maple now – and it is as true of their leaves that “nothing gold can stay.”

9/11 The comfort of the familiar

Fall Foliage AmericaIt’s that anniversary again. 9/11. 

We saw a selection of “the things they carried” that will go into the national 9/11 Memorial in New York and were reminded of how quickly the ordinary can become extraordinary; the common become an uncommon moment, preserved in amber for future generations.

The state of the reunion

Sunday’s New York Times story on family reunions brought out all the negatives and cautioned “how to make the best of it,” quoting experts at the Family Reunion Institute. Which made us ask, “So if they’re so awful, why are more and more people planning these get-togethers?”

The answer -- from our perspective here at the Inn where we see family reunions all season long (and where we’ve designed spaces like the interconnecting rooms in the Lodges to make it easy for extended families to spread out) – is, “Because they’re so much fun!”

The summer harvesting moon

Every menu at Spruce Point lists all the local purveyors who fish, farm and harvest the makings of our meals. That list sent us to the Ararat Farm in nearby Lincolnville and this gorgeous image of eggplant, tomatoes, squash and peppers: the fruits of the season the Wabanaki called Demezowas – the “Harvesting Moon” of “crops that are cut.” The Wabanaki of the Maine coast, who have walked our woodland trail for millennia, named twelve moon cycles, with this one falling in August-September, following “The Blueberry Maker” (Sataikas) in July and “The Corn Maker” (Skamonkas), later in September. Gathered together these names become a farmstand display of the best flavors of the season. Sun-warmed, and accented with herbs from our own kitchen garden, these flavors add to the sensory memories of summer in Maine, preserved in all their radiant hues like jams on the pantry shelf, to be savored when the “The Winter Maker” moon comes along in December.

There is a Maine summer place

A hundred years ago, the captains of industry and their families fled the baking pavement and sweltering sun of the nation’s cities to “rusticate” on the coast of Maine.  They sailed. They fished. They swam. They ate wonderful meals prepared by favorite chefs who knew where to obtain the best shellfish and the freshest produce.

Once the secret behind those newly-relaxed selves became known, their wives and children joined in, spending the weekdays playing at the shore, dabbling their toes in ocean waters, joined on the weekends by the collared-and-tied.

Shooting stars and sun-shot shade in a Spruce Point summer

Watching the Perseids the other night and talking to some of the guests who gathered on the dock to watch the annual meteor display in the skies to the east, it became clear that there’s still tradition at work in the way knowledge is handed down, one generation to the next.

So many Dads, it seems, have taken on the task (and joy) of introducing basic astronomy to their kids. We remember the first time we picked out the constellation of Orion; and getting up in the middle of the night to see the “shooting stars.” For millennia, Dads have watched the heavens, checked the weather (and the tides) and tended the fire.  Like wizards, theirs is the realm of fireflies and fishing lines and bike rides along the country roads of August (and their cooling shade), or October (and the glowing leaves.) 

The green light at the end of the dock

The end of a dock. In the silence – that’s not so silent – of a summer night. Halyards clinking on masts, laughter and porch light drifting across the water. Some docks, like Jay Gatsby’s, have a green light to give people their bearings, tiny lighthouses showing the way through the darkened harbor. Others, like the green light at the end of the NavCad dock in Annapolis -- a salute to those eternally on patrol -- are  comforting beacons. Like the US Navy, leaving a light on for those arriving late. 

Trees, timbers and traditions sheltered in spruce

Our friends at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are celebrating 2013 as a year of Trees, Timbers and Traditions. In a place called Spruce Point on the midcoast shore of the Pine Tree State, this is a topic dear to our hearts and to the principles by which we manage the environment entrusted to us here at the Inn.

So, with a nod to CMBG, we thought we’d give you an update on our trees.


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