after a night in NJ and a night in NH (preceded by a 'quite brief on account of horrid Connecticut traffic' visit to the Boston Public Gardens to see the Make Way for Ducklings statue) we had a leisurely morning and breakfast with friends and then made our way up to this sweet little place in Deer Isle, Maine. the house was built in the 1820s, I think. there's a big old barn, perfectly creaky stairs, loads of character, and a two acre meadow that leads down to a tidal cove. also, the perfect popcorn pot, a great old radio, and loads and loads of bookshelves crammed full with goodness.
it was cold the first morning. really cold. go-outside-and-find-wood-to-chop-to-feed-the-woodstove cold. he happily obliged and I must say I enjoyed the morning chill and the glimpse ahead to the coming season. and I like watching him chop and carry wood, what can I say.
also, tea. so much tea. there was a mug I liked and I claimed it as my tea mug for the week. these little things can make a big difference, can't they?
our dear Claire is a big fan of all things Robert McCloskey. we brought along her copy of One Morning in Maine and, for the first couple days she was pretty sure that the house we were staying in might actually be Sal and Jane's house. after all, it was an old Maine farmhouse on the coast with a sweeping meadow leading down to a cove. a cove where clamming happened and seals were seen.
there was a fair amount of card playing and snacking and reading. we all settled in easily and found our favorite spots and such.
a puzzle. popcorn. Claire and I called it 'vacation popcorn' and it was perfect. it wasn't so different from our usual popcorn. except that it was.
we took the canoe out a couple times. that was when we spotted the seals. so many of them, sunning themselves on the rocks in the midday sun. bald eagles flying overhead. the sounds of osprey on the hunt. I had to fight the urge to bring my camera along but I knew if I did I'd probably drop it in the sea. we paddled twice to a little island, where we got out and explored. the two of them circumnavigated the island while I lay on a rock in the sunshine. we collected all sorts of treasures, big and small. mostly barnacled stones and driftwood. there is a bag in the car still filled with island treasures. I haven't opened it yet for fear of the, um.... smell. there are bones and crab shells in there folks. the first time we went to the island we realized upon returning that she left her sandals out there. at low tide we drove to someone's house and papa walked out across the muck and retrieved the sandals. the next time it was just us girls and I am somewhat embarrassed to share that I got us stranded. the tide was right but I just didn't notice the shift in the wind and try as I might I could not paddle us back against it. not even paddling as hard as I could, and I like to think of myself as fairly strong. but it in a canoe with the front weighed down by just a wee one, out in a strong wind? nope. it's possible I uttered some not-so-nice words. and later, when I apologized to her for her having heard my not-so-nice words out in the boat she said, ever so calmly, "it's okay mama, I said shit, too". well then. friendly folks drove us the couple miles back to the house and we came back with the car to retrieve the boat. lesson learned. watch the tide, yes. but keep a close eye on the wind as well.
no stranger to clamming, she was all about going down to dig for some with papa (just like in the book!). she was not, however, prepared for the fact that clamming in Maine, unlike clamming in North and South Carolina, involves several inches of silty muck that tries to gobble up little ones. oh no, she did not like that at all.
papa kept at it though, and eventually got enough for the three of us to enjoy some hearty clam chowder later in the week. the outdoor shower was great and, though not entirely hidden from the road, became our favored choice for bathing in general. Claire did a great job at telling mama when a car was coming and I would strategically duck down so as not to startle the passers-by.
|sampling the local beers. yum, yum, yum.|
|boats in Stonington, Maine|
|I am officially on the lookout for a radio just like this. LOVED it.|
soft, misty mornings. green-grey water dappled with golden seaweed. the fog would eventually fade away and leave clear, blue-sky afternoons and the tide would come up and the cove would look completely different. at times there was up to a 12 foot difference between high and low tide.
it just so happened (actually, it was kind of a big selling point for the general area) that we were just a short drive from Buck's Harbor. Buck's Harbor is where little Sal and Jane go with father to get groceries and fix the motor for their boat. it looks almost exactly like it does in the book.
|(the sign no longer says 'Condon's Garage' because it isn't Condon's Garage anymore. but it's still an outboard motor shop and we could tell where the gas pumps used to be and peek in the windows to see the tools and such)|
on the way back from Buck's Harbor (after a drive past the Good Life Center and Eliot Coleman's Four Season Farm) we braked for some wild blueberry picking. of course.
and then, naturally, went home and prepared a Maine feast. complete with blueberry hand pies and a blueberry crumble of sorts.
|she wanted to eat them all. she thought maybe we'd say yes, it being vacation and all. instead, we agreed on two.|
|(a chowder date for me and my girl after we visited the touch tank in Stonington and walked around a bit)|
|her favorite little boat in Stonington.|
|nothing follows chowder quite like strawberry ice cream.|
papa got to feeling quite under the weather during the last few days in Maine. he stayed back while she and I explored a bit, and then we all three went to the local library's open house (do we know how to throw down or what?) and she listened to a sweet woman read several children's books before we headed a few doors down to the evening market. oysters and goat cheese came back with us. she tried one oyster and at first seemed to approve but then decided they were not really for her.
another day. another morning in Maine. a first try at fishing and then a drive over to Bar Harbor to check out the Abbe Museum, a carriage ride in Acadia ("like Laura and Mary, right mama?"), and an exploration of Anemone Cave (an awesome little tidal pool-filled cave that is accessed relatively safely at low tide).
|we played a lot of 'go fish'|
|the home's decor was right up my alley|
our last full day in Maine. I woke early and snuck off for a solo blueberry picking outing back to the same place we picked earlier in the week. then, coffee and back to the house to pick up my loves for a drive down to the Stonington Farmer's Market. afterwards, some car packing and rearranging so as to fit in all of the treasures. which by that point included a giant piece of birch bark and several large branches of driftwood.
|this house and I go well together, I do think.|
and then, another lobster dinner. this time, mama ate two.
until next time, Maine.
(Claire says she intends to buy this house when she is a grown up, so maybe I'll be back there a lot)