Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just Maine

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A few days back I explained that sometimes gardeners get tired and they need a break from gardening. At Vermont Flower Farm we have had a tradition that spans over 25 years. When Labor Day passes, we pack for some time in Maine. This year was no different. Gail and Alex finished the packing Wednesday and then we left for Boothbay Harbor.

Maine has always been dear to me and there are times when I don't know why I never ended up living there. When I was a young sprout, my Dad packed the old Buick on many Fridays and we headed for Maine. Cabins were $5 or $6 a night back then and he'd find us a place and then go looking for fishermen to swap beer and stories for fish. It was an unusual relationship I never understood but I often talk or write about. We were about as poor as you could be but we always made the trip to the ocean my mother loved.

In the mid sixties I considered Bates College and in the late seventies after purchasing my first house and not having a nickel to spare, I found a beautiful piece of property--14 acres on the Damariscottia River for $36,000. The lure for the property got into a mental debate over common sense and financial stability and Vermont is where I stayed. Looking back on it, I think it was more the fact that I had just been drafted into the Army that made staying home more sensible.

This year's rest was scheduled to begin in Boothbay Harbor. Gail and Alex hadn' t been there before but it was the adjacent Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens that I wanted them to see. Six hours time from Vermont (including a few stops to stretch and one 20 mile reroute in Bethel Maine....oops!) and we pulled into Brown's Wharf & Marina. Gail and Alex had done some Internet work and made this choice based on a description of mariner memorabilia in the restaurant portion and fine views from every room. Neither was a disappointment.

The marina as well as the parking lot, had a good representation of visitors from around the US and Canada. Walking the marina was like a historical trip through the evolution of watercraft. Alex and I agreed that perhaps the oldest boat there was the best even though the dishes weren't washed and the maps and charts were a bit crinkled and torn.

Our first morning was a beauty although I have to say that the unfamiliar noise of lobster boats warming up at 3:30-4 AM was unusal for me to sleep through. Alex and Gail have no problem with strange noises but I sat there watching them head out to sea to snag buoys and pull up lobster pots. The retail cost of lobsters this year is the lowest we have seen in years and it makes no sense to us to see prices at $3.99 a pound everywhere. Today's paper even advertises a local lobsterman who sells from his house for $3.49 a pound. If you eat lobster you can relate to these prices but if you are a business person you'll have real trouble trying to figure out how the prices get set like this when diesel fuel is $2.67 a gallon.

Click on this next picture and across the harbor, in the top, middle/left middle of the picture, you'll see a blue roof. The building to the left of that roof is Kaler's Crab and Lobster House. Boothbay Harbor has an abundance of places to eat and many came highly recommended to us. The Tugboat Inn, for example was well recommended to us by a customer of ours back home. "super lobster bisque and Blood Mary's to kill for" but what I look for is a restaurant where the local folks line up on Friday night. We started with roasted calamari with sliced banana peppers and a light garlic butter glaze. Gail had a double on the steamed lobsters, Alex had haddack and I went for whole belly clams. In today's world I'm hate to see things wasted. I have to say that at Kalers there's no shortage as the wait staff bring things to the table.

Boothbay Harbor is like most Maine peninsula towns. Each is surrounded by water and houses, churches, and town buildings; fishing and commercial businesses are always packed around the point and parking is at a premium. You have to plan ahead or be prepared to walk but the walking part is a good idea at the end of the meal anyway.

Gardeners like to visit gardens and nurseries, even when they are on vacation. We are no different. Our trip to Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens coming up next!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Now writing from Wells, Maine

Vermont Flower Farm: A business taking a couple days off.

1 comment:

Barbee' said...

Good post, George! Vicarious enjoyment being savored here. I have been to Maine too few times. Would love to go back, but it's a loooong way from KY. Now, back to the links in your post. Thanks for the photos, too.