Friday, July 19, 2013

Coastal Maine Forays

My travels north continue with the idea of seeing and experiencing new adventures.  I am using my friend's North Yarmouth home as a launching pad to visit other corners of Maine.   We were getting ready for our camping part of the trip so we went into Portland to stock up on essential supplies.  If LL Beans supplies the outdoorsman then Trader Joe's, in my opinion supplies essentials for your interior.  The store in Portland was stocked with the usuals that I have grown accustomed since growing up by the first store in South Pasadena, California.  It seems everywhere I have moved I have found the stores or they were soon to arrive.  Unfortunately, there is not one in Tarpon, but in Maine they have a store. 

Of course a stop at a sea faring town requires a stop by the docks for some nourishment.  Here by the Portland ferry terminal we found Flatbreads with all manner of American organic style pizzas  which we downed with some fine local unfiltered strong cider.

Outside the restaurant there was this unique chalkboard allowing people to come up with their version of a "bucket list."  I found it troubling that people should be concerned with such a topic given that I have not given it much thought and I suspect I am closer to it than most of those scratching on some kind of place or?  Commercialism is taking on "bucket lists".

All I concern myself with now is hedonism and making sure that I help as many people as I can along the way.  For that matter that has not changed too terribly much.  My idea of a great time is sharing food and drink and meeting new people and seeing new places.  This I hold above all else.  Life must be good or you are doing it wrong.

My friend Scott took me to meet a kindred spirit and lover of gardens.  Hilaria put on quite a spread for us with wines and all manner of snacks for this version of high tea without tea.  Scott's son was visiting from Australia with a girlfriend in tow:  a wonderful couple.  Maybe when I get around to visiting Australia I will look them up in Perth.

For now, I am on a "Lobster Quest".  Here where lobsters are a bit of a god placed on top of buildings like saints you either love them or leave them.  They are everywhere.  

There is even a festival if not more that totally exult the lobster and its effect on people.  The Rockland festival is coming up and there is still time to plan a trip here if you haven't done so.  I normally stuffed myself at Red's in Wiscasset Maine, but the queue is an hour long to get your pound of lobster.  

Thanks to a friend we stayed in Rockport Maine.  This is yet another place of worship to the crustacean.  You can indulge a Graffam Brothers.  They have a restaurant in Camden and a store and a mobile stand in Rockport.  You can get a pound of scrumptiously prepared lobster on a roll with chips, Cole slaw and a drink for $12.00 or simply take one home from the market and toast the role yourself for $8.99.  

Something for everyone.  If you don't believe check out the numbers last week.  I am sure they have added a thousand or two more since then!
Rockland Lighthouse
Camden Maine from Mt. Battie
Mt. Battie from Camden Harbor

Maine is almost like a state of mind.  It comes cool, hot, sunny our cloudy with or without mosquitos.  I really enjoy the chance to get away and connect with friends and share stories and good times.  It is also great to see Limo run along deserted shores.  This time around it has been rather warm up here but well you can't have everything.  Besides I am heading to New Brunswick next where it is a lot cooler than Maine!  Until then...

Friday, July 12, 2013

On the way to the 4th of July in Maine

Shrine to Stonewall Jackson, Guinea Station Virginia
On my way to celebrate the 4th of July in Maine I got wind of the news that it was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I have traveled the Florida to Maine road before and have passed what are the major battlefields of the Civil War.  I decided I would stop at a couple of these sacred places and try to contemplate what took place.  The first place I stopped was the Shrine to Stonewall Jackson.  Jackson was one of the South's most important strategist and soldier who had been instrumental and major victories of the South at Manassas and Antietam.  Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops and died eight days later at the rural community of Guinea Station outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Manassas Battlefield in Virginia
Manassas is a beautiful landscape that hardly evokes anything of what took place there.  Remnants of the civil war are marked by a few monuments and artillery pieces yet it was a brutal and bloody battle.

Old Slave Market, Fredericksburg Virginia
Further along the way I stopped in Fredericksburg and noted what is today a lovely colonial city.  Little remains of the devastation that took place in the siege of Fredericksburg when it was shelled by northern troops from the north side of the Rappahannock River.  Today the old slave market fits in without any of the stigma it carries.

Antietam Battlefield
Further north I stopped at the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg Maryland.  Stonewall Jackson had a very important role in holding the line in what could have been a devastating loss for the South.  The draw that came from this battle allowed the South to continue to push into Northern territory.  His death prevented his involvement in Gettysburg and a potentially different outcome  I started off to visit Gettysburg but the traffic for the Sesquicentennial Re-enactment Celebration was so severe that I decided I would forgo the visit until my return to Florida
Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington Monument
Once I arrived in Vermont I was deep in the North.  Here many monuments reflect the Revolutionary War.  This monument whose immensity at 306 feet tall is only rivaled by the Washington monument at 555 feet reflects the Battle of Bennington.  This fact made me think that we celebrate our Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July and that we really avoid thinking about the civil war.  Memorial Day tries to address all the losses combined.  This may sound critical but think about something. Statistics for the Revolutionary War deaths are estimated at 25,000 whereas for the Civil War the numbers are more than the losses of the WWI and WW2 combined at 625,000 deaths.  The following monument in Camden Maine addresses maybe something in our psyche that we don't really want to deal with the Great Rebellion of the Civil War.

It is a sad day when we think of the losses of wars specially when you think that we have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001. I can't help to think that we are a very lucky country to have had so many men (and now women) feel their duty to go and fight for their idea of freedom.  I thought this final photograph of a Civil War Monument in Belfast Maine said it all:  The Boys of 1861-65.  Maybe it would be best to try to stand for freedom and remember that... 
"The Boys of 1861-1865" Monument to Civil War in Belfast Maine

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On the Road Again to Maine

I have escaped Florida's heat to celebrate the 4th of July in Yankee country.  It is nice to be back in Maine.  I love this very foreign land.  I love the people and its traditions.  I like the way  that old co-exists with new.  I like how everything has a patina of age and value. Very little is wasted here.  People are short with words but long on friendship and its meaning.  Enjoy some images of the 4th of July Parade in Freeport.  I have come again to join friends at their farm and share in some of this great country.  There were no marching bands or uniformed ensembles, but there were lots of kids and old-timers and everyone in between with dogs, tractors and other animals enjoying the music of the day.

This is LL Bean country.  This vehicle is symbolic of the shoe that made the company and is so vital to surviving the wet seasons around here.

Of course a trip to Maine is a trip to lobster paradise.  Day's is a purveyor or lobsters and all the other seafood that makes this region a bacchanalian experience.  With lobster prices down to $4.69 a pound people and a bumper crop of lobsters you wonder about  the days when servants refused to eat lobster more than three times a week.  In case this sounds weird think of lowly servants were forced to eat lobster three times a week because it was so cheap and plentiful.  There was a revolt and laws were written to stop the abuse.

Besides lobster there are mountains of crab and clams which share in popularity to lobsters and have several festivals dedicated to them.  Yarmouth's Clam festival is celebrated July 19-21 this year.  If you are wondering what to do, consider that Rockland has its Lobster Festival July 31 - August 4.  You might just find a reason to visit.

Clam buckets awaiting customers

This is the land of organic before it became fashionable.  People put in their order for milk, eggs or pigs from their neighbor farmers and a lot of these transactions take place  using the honor system.  You go and pick up your jug of raw milk that is on the schedule for pick up on any given day and you leave the money in a box if no one is there to take care of you.  I grew up in cities where people don't have this sense of trust and I feel amazed how wonderful it is to have this alternate way of dealing with people.  

People up here know that in spite of the wonderful warm and sunny summer weather we are having now will soon pass and it will be time to survive another winter.  So there is always the planning for the next season and these woodpiles attest to the truth that winter is long and right around the corner.

But for now, the grass is long, the farms are splendid and Dalmatians from Florida can run down a farm road chasing frogs that strayed a little far from the Walden Pond.  Happy Gardening.