Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coastal Maine

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Every year just after Labor Day, Gail and I put a sign on the sales table that says that we are open by chance or appointment. When we get to that point in the season, the majority of sales have been completed and we really need a breather. Our sign should probably say that there's always someone here to wait on customers but it's easier to say something like "chance or appointment" in case one of our dedicated helpers is out walking Karl the wonder dog or digging hostas in the lower garden when someone arrives.

We don't travel far and we don't travel for long but we always slip away with Alex to sit by the ocean in southern Maine and enjoy the sun and the waves, read our books and magazines and eat some fresh fish. This year was no different.

Gail always tells people that I cannot be made to sit still and it's useless to try. Usually this is true but this year I have been running on one burner as we close down business here on Peacham Pond Road and move everything to our new location on Route 2 just west of Marshfield village. Gail was so overwhelmed to see me sitting for hours reading my books that she actually took pictures to show folks. Truly, I needed a break and the weather was in my favor.

Some time ago I had started China*Inc. by Ted C. Fishman and I really wanted to reread parts and finish the rest. I also wanted to get through Man and Nature in time to sit at the Rachael Carson Reserve outside of Kennebunk, Maine and rethink Silent Spring. Man and Nature was written by George Perkins Marsh in 1864 and it was really Rachel Carson a hundred years earlier. If you have thoughts about our environment like I do, read them both and this will become clear.

So we made it to Maine and Alex read his H.P. Lovecraft and Gail read a stack of magazines, filled out plant orders for next year and read a best seller with a name I cannot remember. We ate fresh fish and enjoyed the sun.

I have been going to Maine every year at least once, often more than once, since I was a kid. I never figured out how my father, who set an example of Vermont poverty, ever scratched up a few bucks trip money every summer but he did. In the times of 17 cent a gallon gas and $3-5 a night cabins by the ocean, we'd arrive at one of a network of cabins he located and he'd get us a place for a couple nights. Often that meant he would have woken the owner or promised he'd do something the next day to pay for the accommodation but whatever the exchange, we'd have a place to enjoy. This wasn't just once a summer but often a couple-three times. We'd eat out of an old Scotch Cooler Mom would pack and we'd stop at clam shacks where somehow there'd be some handshake kind of exchange of bottled Reingold beer for clams for us to eat. I never did figure that all out but that was how my father did things and it worked.

I like Maine enough that I always subscribe to Down East: The Magazine of Maine. It helps me keep up on what is happening and provides reminders of places to visit. In the June 2007 issue, I caught the article In Full Bloom about the opening of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. June is a bad month for me because business at our place is hectic and magazines get stacked up one on top of the next for late fall and winter reading. The botanical garden article was a fleeting memory but on Sunday when rain was predicted up north and Gail and Alex refused to leave the beach, I headed north for Boothbay.

The June issue was an enticement but a letter to the editor in the September Down East, entitled Boothbay Garden by Daniel R. Jones completed the "hook, line and sinker" treatment on me. The thunder and lightning are coming fast here now, so here are some photos to carry you through a virtual visit until I can get back to this tomorrow. Try the website too, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, PO Box 234 Boothbay, Maine 04537 207-633-4333. http://www.mainegardens.org

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where lightning causes us to pull cords and avoid sparks. Retreat!

Gardening wishes,

George Africa

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