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Tracing Yankee Roots & Seafarers’ Stars

As spring comes to the woodlands of Spruce Point Inn we notice greenings where the woodland path just days ago showed the tatters of last fall. Turn over a leaf with a footstep and you might discover the tiny shoot of a wildflower. The root system among the trees courses with anticipation that reaches to the very tops of the hardwoods, where a lace of green and maroon frames the blue and fluffy whites of spring.

So runs the heritage of Boothbay, and not just among the Ulster-Scots who settled here in 1718. Our woodland path was formed millennia ago by the Wabanaki families who came down to the seashore to fish and plant the summer crops that Captain John Smith observed as he cruised the waters Down East in 1616. Those ancient roots can be found everywhere in Maine, if you know where to look: maps and signs (Seguin, Aroostook, Monhegan) native wildlife (moose, possum and raccoon are all Abenaki words , the seeds of the “three sisters,” started together under the planting moon in May – corn, beans and squash — that will soon fill gardens on the Midcoast (and menus in 88, Bogie’s and Deck).

Just as the sailors went down to the sea in ships like the ones that will return for Windjammer Days, they sailed back by the stars, turning up the rivers like alewives and salmon, determined to return to the places that filled their heads and hearts. (Seems fish have ‘oceanside memories made in Maine,’ too.)

Perhaps, like them, your inner compass has begun to tug you towards Spruce Point.  The magnetism of this beautiful spot overlooking quintessential Maine: lobsters, islands, gusting sailboats and a view that spans both sunrise and sunset, casts a lifelong spell (we believe it’s inheritable).

We were just reading that when scientists recently unveiled the first-ever images of a black hole, they felt it needed a name. They so turned to the speakers of the indigenous language of Hawaii, home to their deep-space telescope. The name came back almost instantly: “powehi” – “po” which means “powerful, unfathomable, and ceaseless creation” along with “wehi” that conveys the majesty of one who would wear a crown. That name, said Geoffrey Bower, chief scientist of the Hawaii operations, was “remarkable in the simplicity of the language and how it resonated in the astrophysical concept of what we saw.”  It also helps keeps a once-endangered language alive as new energy rises from its equally-ancient roots.

Boothbay Harbor lies at the edge of the Atlantic, at a place named for a Mr. Beath who was one of those Scots-Irish sailors settled on a rocky shore. One original, indigenous name for this place was “Newagen,” which one linguist translates as “an interrupted route.” We like to think of Spruce Point as the sort of ideal interruption of your daily route – a place where a friendly nebula of stars conspires to bring you home.