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orourke's blog

Sails filled with history

The 52nd Annual Windjammer Days slip into history, leaving traces of the schooner American Eagle, Alert, Eastwind, Lazy Jack, the Lewis R. French, Heritage and Winfield Lash in their wakes. Technically, windjammers are “large sailing ships with an iron or, for the most part, steel hull with between three and five masts and square sails.” Named “windjammers” for their massive sails that seemed to jam the wind but actually propelled them across the globe in early feats of shipbuilding skills and seamanship, these beautiful birds now carry the memories of those voyages. It is that history that Yankee Magazine celebrates by naming Windjammer Days one of the top 20 events in Maine and why the event makes the “Top 100 in the US’ list. For so much of the nation was built on her sails.

6/20 Savoring the solstice

Daisy Buchanan, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, said she always looked forward to the Summer Solstice – and then invariably missed it. Like everything else, even the motions of the heavens rushed by her too quickly.

Dads and daughters

It’s June, the month of brides and Father’s Day. The month of new beginnings and the longest day.

Along with aged veterans at the beach in Normandy, we saw middle-aged women – the daughters – who came to honor their fathers’ measures of devotion.

It’s the berries

Along with the lilacs and autumn-olive that fill the air with perfume and form a flowery fringe between sea and sky, we’ve noticed the small white blossoms of wild strawberries on the edges of the fields. Just a handful, scattered in among the bluets and sweet-smelling white violets, they are the advance team for the summer yet to come.

Messing About in Boats

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, made in Maine

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.

Treasures at our Feet

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: Time to hatch a plan

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.

There’s something about the light

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. 

Into The Maine Woods on the heels of Thoreau

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.