Springtime in New England

Spring rolled in earlier this week bringing marvelous weather with it. Here on my little Maine island, the thermometer rose to 84 degrees on Wednesday.  On that same day, Boston broke all prior records by a whopping 12 degrees. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the spring brings, and, for those of us who garden, what effect the unseasonably warm weather has on our flowers.  Meanwhile, it’s just plain enjoyable! When I jog in the early morning, I’m accompanied by birdsong of all kinds and, sometimes, the sight and sound of woodpeckers. Downy woodpeckers come regularly to the birdfeeders and we have pileated woodpeckers nesting in the yard.  The grass is greening up and a new cycle is beginning. Very soon the first tourists will be rumbling across the bridge and we’ll be sharing the island with those lucky enough to spend a week or two  here–but not lucky enough to live here year round!

 Don’t forget that this Sunday many of  the maple syrup producers in Maine will be hosting open houses to walk you through the maple syrup making process.  Many nearby churches or other organizations, and sometimes the syrup producers themselves, will put on pancake breakfasts. It’s a fun day for the entire family — and the true first taste of spring.  Enjoy!


Life on My Maine Island

For real democracy in action, there’s nothing like a Town Meeting in Maine.  Last night we gathered in the local school, as we do every March, to vote on warrants, swear in town officials, and in general discuss the machinery that makes a small village run. 

First, though, there was a comfort-food supper of shrimp stew and cake (shrimp caught by the local fishermen, of course, the stew and cake made by moms of eighth graders raising money for an upcoming  trip to Washington, DC), followed by plenty of conversation as everyone chatted up neighbors that we see so seldom during the winter months.  The Girl Scouts sold cookies and there was a raffle for a gorgeous skiff built by students  as another fundraising project.

Sometimes town meetings can be colorful and contentious, but ours was peaceful, with no controversial topics on the agenda. Many of the women brought their knitting and stitched without pause throughout  the entire event.  We are few but varied on my little island and the adjoining mainland part of our town: fishermen, young parents with school-age offspring, retirees, writers, artists, and  transplants “from away” who have been woven–some more fully than others–into the fabric of life in our small village.  We came in jeans, flannel shirts, LLBean boots, baseball caps, nurses’ uniforms, and an occasional office suit. It’s always one of my favorite times in Maine — a living Norman Rockwell moment.

If you’ll be in Maine on Sunday, March 25, be sure to check out the events for Maine Maple Sunday when all the maple syrup producers hold an open house to demonstrate the process of making maple syrup, and, of course, to sell their products. Check out mainemapleproducers. com for a list of all the possibilities. Visitmaine.com is a treasure trove of information about other things to do and see in Maine. And, if you’re planning an extended trip now or this spring or summer, you’ll find lots of good ideas in the Maine section of my book, Backroads & Byways of New England: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions.  Whenever you come,  you’ll find plenty to do in this beautiful part of the world.



March Madness

Here we are, just a bit more than a week into March, and we’ve seen just about every kind of weather there is to see, with the exception of hail.  March roared in with 9 inches of snow falling on our little island, much to my excitement as I was finally able to get out on snowshoes and cross-country skis after this mostly mild and snow-free winter. Then came the rains and washed it all away! And today it is sunny–almost shirtsleeve weather–with blue skies and puffy white clouds sailing by.  That’s New England weather for you.

I just returned from several days in Boston (yesterday it was in the ’60s there), one of my favorite cities anywhere. No matter how many times I hike the Freedom Trail or visit the fabulous museums, I’m struck by the history and the amazing art and intellectual ambiance.  And of course the food is fabulous.  The most memorable meal of this trip was at Toscano on Charles Street where I over-indulged in terrific Italian food. It’s an easy walk from Downtown Crossing, once the premier shopping area in Boston, which is due for a major overhaul soon. Downtown Crossing already has a mega-Macy’s store, and other department stores are scheduled to move in. I lived in Boston in the days when Filene’s and Jordan Marsh ruled the area, so I’m happy to see it perking up again.  For anyone wanting to stay in downtown Boston, I’m happy to recommend the Omni Parker House. This very old  but beautifully maintained and modernized hotel has every amenity, reasonable prices, and is truly in the heart of the city.  It’s steps from most of the major historic sites and the Freedom Trail passes right by the front door.  Even if you’re just in Boston for the day, pop into the lobby and check out the elegant dark oak paneling and the brass elevator doors. Very chic! More later on this great place to stay and other things to see and do in Boston (and, of course, in Maine in the spring!).