It’s lovely out in the woods today
The woodland path that leads from forest to the sea on Spruce Point is reported to date back millennia. Formed by the light but ancestral tread of the Abenaki who spent their summers on the shore of what we now call Linekin Bay, the path is dappled with summer sunshine and the shade of spruces and hardwoods.
The path at Spruce Point Inn has recently received some TLC, new shavings for the surface and signs to mark the way. These serve as gentle guidance and protect the verges from over-wear, so that future generations will enjoy it just as generations past have done.
It’s lovely out in the woods today (as the song goes) but what, aside from a teddy bears’ picnic might one find in the nearshore Boothbay woods of Maine?
There are the trees themselves, adapted to the mix of thin soil, granite bedrock and salt air to withstand the winter winds. The oak leaves clear their own footings with a nest of fallen leaves that subdue the encroachment of too much undergrowth. They and the maples and beech give the forest contrasting shades of green in the summer and glowing color in the fall.
Close your eyes and listen to the woods and as the sound of boat engines and seagulls blends into the background, individual notes of some of the birds of Boothbay — bluejays (sharp and urgent), cardinals (whistling for their mates) and – maybe – the fluting song of a woodthrush — will emerge to make this day different from any other when you think of it in days to come.
Looking “down” as you listen “up” you will find ferns and forage for the small animals that truly host their picnics in the woods. But as you leave the more formal gardens of the resort and their daylilies and rosa rugosa behind, you might find pink-lavender vetch attracting honeybees (it’s said their receptors pick up blues and purples but not red) or an errant milkweed and its heady-scented pink bouquet that is the preferred food of Monarch butterflies. Look closely and you might find a slender stalk with tiny white “bells” that is a wintergreen (they prefer the edge of woodlands) or an emerald velvet patch of moss. The Midcoast’s famous forager, Tom Seymour knows which of the mushrooms that seem to spring up overnight are safe to eat, which leaves are as sweet as the lettuces of spring.
Is it surprising that Thoreau, the iconic man of solitary contemplation found the Maine Woods so enticing? Or that as a man of the mid-19th century – an age of uncivility, rancor and pell-mell demands — he needed that refuge as much as one in 2015?
The woodland path is there for respite and as inspiration for those oceanside memories the Inn seeks to cultivate in visitors. Just as Thoreau, you will find that what you take from the woods depends a great deal on what you bring to them. And that their riches of sound, sight and scent are the priceless reward for taking the path that brings you through them and safely out the other side.