Fall on the South Bristol Gut

Follow Route 129 out of Damariscotta into the tiny midcoast village of South Bristol, Maine. Soon after you enter the village, you’ll cross a bridge spanning the Gut onto Rutherford Island.  The area is home to one of Maine’s busiest and most authentic lobster fishing fleets. Stop by the South Bristol Co-op around 3 pm to see the lobster boats unload their catch, and while the weather holds, you can also enjoy a freshly steamed lobster out on the deck.

Fall is a great time to visit quintessential Maine villages like South Bristol.  Just before you enter the village you’ll find the Thompson Ice House,  where two annual events help keep an old tradition alive.  In winter, ice is still cut on the ice house pond, much as it was in the days before refrigeration.  Although no longer  shipped to far off places, the old tradition is still celebrated with great blocks of ice cut with hand tools and stored in the ice house. In summer, the ice house hosts an ice cream social serving ice cream chilled with the previous winter’s ice.

From there, watch on the right for the S Road school, built in 1860 and restored to its 1930s appearance. From time to time, docents open the school for an interesting look at what education was like in days gone by.  Across the bridge on Rutherford Island, you’ll find little Union Congregational Church where visitors always receive a warm welcome.

From here, continue on to Christmas Cove. Although bustling in the summer months, the famous  boating area is quieter now, making it a great place to take a leisurely drive and stop now and then for photos of quiet coves and pounding ocean surf. You’ll head home with lots of memories and perhaps a determination to come back in the summer months.

The leaves are just now starting to turn. Hurry, before the snow flies!

A Maine lobster boat, one of many in the South Bristol Gut. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond





Life on a Small Maine Island

Today for the first time it’s clear that fall has come to the island. Not only have most of the summer people headed  for warmer climates, but the air is brisk and the first trees are starting to turn. Once again there’s little traffic on the streets and the island has begun to turn back into itself. The summer house parties and tennis tournaments are over until next year and the social scene until spring will pretty much consist of church suppers and neighborhood potlucks.

If you’ve never come to Maine, this is a great time to visit. Most hotels and B&Bs are open through Columbus Day, harvest fairs are in full swing throughout the state, and in Damariscotta, in midcoast Maine, plans are well underway for the annual Pumpkinfest, an event that has now achieved international fame. Growers vie to grow the largest pumpkins and artists carve and decorate them. Entertainment, street food, a pumpkin dessert contest, and plenty of activities for kids are all part of the festivities.  And Damariscotta itself is a lovely village with interesting shops and restaurants to explore.  Plan a visit if you can. Days are still warm (ish), nights are brisk, and the sugar maples will be turning color. It’s a nice last vacation before the holiday season.

A basket of fall flowers brightens an autumn day.
Photo (c) Karen Hammond

Summertime in Midcoast Maine

If you’ve never visited midcoast Maine during the summer months, now is the time to do it. After a late spring, the trees are fully leafed out, flowers are blooming, and the days are glorious. Plan a trip to some of the charming towns and villages here — pretty Wiscasset with its antique shops, Damariscotta, where Main Street is lined with shops in handsome vintage buildings, and if time allows, travel on to the Pemaquid Peninsula and the less-visited villages of New Harbor where you can catch the ferry to Monhegan Island, or  Bristol and tiny  South Bristol, a quintessential lobstering community that lies off the beaten track.  Throughout this area, you’ll find lobster shacks, pocket beaches, and small restaurants that are open only during the fleeting summer season.

Now that life has settled down here after a hectic winter and spring, I’ll be trying to post more regularly about life on the small Maine island I call home,

A Maine lobsterman readies his traps for the summer season. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond

and interesting things to see and do throughout the state. Thanks to those of you who have followed me over from my previous blog, and welcome to anyone new who stops by.  Wherever you spend your summer, enjoy every moment!