Summer on a Small Maine Island

A Maine lobsterman gets ready to set his traps for the summer season. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond
A Maine lobsterman gets ready to set his traps for the summer season. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond
It’s been a while since I’ve posted — a writing trip to Canada followed by a college reunion and a houseful of company have kept me busy. If you live in a popular tourist area, I’m sure you know what I mean about my home suddenly seeming like a B&B as soon as good weather rolls around. But I can’t blame people for wanting to come to the Maine coast. Few places on earth are more beautiful, especially at this time of year.
From my office window, I’m watching the lobstermen come and go over water that today is bright blue and tranquil. But I know how quickly that can change and how hard they all work every day. It’s the start of the busy season for them as well, hauling up thousands of pounds of lobsters to feed hungry travelers to Maine. Last week I took my visitors to see a rare blue lobster that had just been caught nearby. A bright, crystal blue, to me they’re the prettiest of the occasional lobster oddities that crop up — there are also yellow (very rare), calico, red (before cooking), and even albino lobsters, and even some that are half one color and half another. With the exception of the albino lobsters, they all turn red in the cooking pot….not that the rare ones will be eaten. Almost always they are donated to an aquarium for educational purposes.
I’ll be back soon with more news about summer in Maine and some highlights from my recent Canada jaunt. Happy summer everyone! It’s all too fleeting, so enjoy every moment!

Musings: Winding Down 2013 in Maine

Snow falls on a tranquil island in Maine.
Snow falls on a tranquil island in Maine.

“Wicked” winter weather in the form of heavy snowfalls,  a major ice storm, and power outages have kept me busy and away from my blog over the last couple of weeks, but I hope those readers who celebrate Christmas had a happy one and that a festive Solstice was had by all on December 21. I’m sure there was an intriguing Solstice celebration at Stonehenge in England, as there is each year. If you haven’t visited there, it’s well worth a side trip if you find yourself in England someday.

Now we are in the long days of darkness, with daylight starting to fade shortly after 3PM here on my small island, and darkness shrouding everything by 4PM.  I use this week between Christmas and New Year’s to clean out my office and get ready for what the next year may bring. I’ve never been much on looking back, preferring instead to savor the present and plan for the future—which is a little ironic, given that I was born in January, a month named for a two-headed god who looked both forward and backward.

From my office window I watch lobstermen setting out early in the morning and returning by mid-afternoon. With temperatures in the low teens, I admire their grit and determination. The ocean is gray and choppy, although right now we are having a brief hour or so of sunshine.

However you spend these last two days of 2013, I hope you’ll enjoy the remaining moments and make the most of the rest of the holiday season.

February on a Small Maine Island

Snow falls on a tranquil island in Maine.
Snow falls on a tranquil island in Maine.

Winter is well underway here in Maine, with crisp, cold days followed by even colder nights. Definitely a time to tackle big projects inside, but also a good time to enjoy winter sports and scenery. I’ve been especially enjoying the sight of snow and ice sparkling on the trees. It makes shoveling a whole lot easier when there’s something pleasant to look at along the way!

I spent a recent weekend in Portland, a great foodie city–no wonder lovers of great food come from all over to eat there. Needless to say, I made the rounds–necessary research of course, since I write a lot about food–but it was also my birthday and therefore a good excuse to indulge. Hugo’s continues to impress–fabulous atmosphere, good wine list, fabulous wait staff, and excellent food as always. They are about to close down for remodeling–perhaps have already–and I’m sure it will be even better when they reopen in the spring. It’s always fun to eat at a place where everyone takes such pride in what they do.

It appears that writing about food and travel has been in my blood for a long time. I’m told that as a small child I constantly wandered off on “adventures” and had to be chased down by my worried parents and older sister. And by the time I was old enough to talk, I was demanding Grey Poupon mustard instead of the “yellow stuff.”  I guess it’s natural that I’ve always gravitated to places with great cuisine–Portland, Boston, Paris, Lyon, and Vienna are a few of my all-time favorites, but I’m equally  happy to buy a lobster fresh off the boat from one of the local lobstermen and eat it on the dock with melted butter running down my arm (but I’ll wait for summer for that!).


Life on a Small Maine Island

Harbor view

August on my little island in Maine means:

–Sultry days

–Star-filled nights

–Lots of friends and relatives eager to squeeze in a visit before their vacation ends

It’s always interesting to welcome visitors here for the first time because their comments range from “Breathtaking” and “Charming” and “How can I move here, too?” to “What on earth do you do here all winter” and “How can you stand living so far from the shopping mall?” (yes, someone really asked that). Of course it’s not for everyone, but life on a Maine island exemplifies the state motto, “The Way Life Should Be.”  At least for some of us!

About 100 of us live in this tiny fishing village all year ’round; in summer the population swells to perhaps four or five times that number as visitors open up their seasonal homes to stay for a week or two or, sometimes, the entire summer. The ebb and flow of the seasons and the population is a fact of life here, much like the ebb and flow of the tides that surround us. Right now as I gaze out my office window the late afternoon sun is sparkling on the water, sailboats are drifting by, and lobstermen are unloading their catch at the co-op across the way. There may be better places for a writer to live, but I can’t imagine where that might be.