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!”
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.
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.
A brilliant forest of autumn leaves. Wave-worn granite abstracted to the point of geometry. Iconic lighthouses. Fishermen hauling dories on a foggy beach. All of these are images our visitors fix in their minds – and through their cameras when they come to Maine. As famous photographers Eliot Porter, George Daniell (Monhegan Island), Berenice Abbott (Portrait of Maine) and even William Wegman (weimaraners in lifejackets, anyone?) have done for over a century.
My Spruce Point Inn signature salad arrived before me as a composition sampler of colors and tastes. The greens ranged from purple to green the color of early morning meadow mist in July. The chevre from Tourmaline Hills farm in nearby Greenwood – soft clouds in this green sky, if you will – was the consistency of whipped cream and tasted just as ethereal. A mix of red and golden cherry-sized tomatoes, cut in half and the home-glazed pecans, sprinkled across the plate. But the Maine blueberries – the identifying totems of this signature salad were the prize.
We were just reading the story in the NY Times about device-free summer camps for adults. Where people unplug from their electronics to give themselves time to retrieve their other senses: the joy of birdsong and the scent of wind in the pines. The opportunity to stop and listen to each other; and to play.
What we see around our firepit each night is the result of just such an endeavor. The guests who arrived as stressed-out travelers who have disconnected themselves from their worlds “away” and have found the luxury of no deadlines, no hassles, no demands except wherever their whim or fancy leads them.
On the Fourth of July, we think of the joys of the summer to come. The hot sun and cool seabreezes. The red, white and blue of lobsters, sails and sparkling ocean. The evening show of fireflies and “campfires” (our s’mores parties come to mind, as well as the new barbecue grills).
Still, 150 years ago on July 4th, Mainer Joshua Chamberlain – divinity student and college professor turned citizen-soldier – was still reeling from the effects of holding the line at Little Round Top at Gettysburg. Historians credit him and his 5th Maine Regiment, for turning the tide of the Civil War. And on a hot, humid day 237 years ago in Philadelphia, John Hancock, John Adams, Sam Adams, Elbridge Gerry and Robert Treat Paine stood for Maine and Massachusetts in pledging their “lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” by signing the Declaration of Independence.
Like cherry blossoms along the Potomac or swallows to Capistrano, the return of the windjammer fleet to Boothbay Harbor in the last week of June marks a season – and a reason to celebrate!
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.” As the schooners (two or more masts, the foremast being no taller than the rear mast) and barques (three or more masts) – and their admiring fleet of sloops (single mast), runabouts and our own motorlaunch, Bright Line – arrive in the harbor and furl their sails like the wings of gulls, the bustle of preparation shifts to the expansive glow of welcome.
Walk the woodland path that leads off behind Linekin and you’re stepping into the moccasins of the Abenaki who made these woods their seasonal home during the summer fishing season. Our Abenaki Trail honors their culture and the heritage of their descendants, the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot, who still live along Maine’s coast.
It is one of the joys of being an innkeeper that we share the unforgettable best moments of people’s lives. The first time a child puts a toe in the water. The first firefly. The first boat ride. The song that played the first summer you fell in love. The lobster. The lighthouse.
That’s why we’re so passionate about helping create those “Oceanside memories made in Maine.”