Monday, September 14, 2009

Parks & People

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sitting by the hotel window looking east as the sunrise spreads bigger and bigger in front of me. High tide is working its way to shore and the mornings' beach walkers are moving closer and closer to the cement beach walls. Men in pick up trucks are parked at the overlook area drinking coffee and telling stories. It looks like another nice day.

When we left Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens the other day, I day plenty of thoughts and pictures to share but for right now I keep thinking of a stop we made in Georgetown, Maine at Reid State Park. This is a park that I took Gail to back in 1989 and we just never made it back again. She really enjoyed the place so I said we'd stop by again. Alex, now 17, was never there so he wondered what Gail was enamored with too.

We parked the car and unloaded our beach chairs, cooler and cameras and headed down the path to the north. There were only a couple cars in the lot but it was early enough in the day to explain that. As we crested the hill, the beach had a strange look to it as if a shipload of settlers landed and began building shelters for the night.

I was taken by the driftwood assemblies and wondered about their origin. I thought it would have been fun to watch whomever it was that appeared and began building them. There was a mystery here that challenged me.

Down the road a ways we had passed Woolrich, Maine, a town that I had misrepresented in my mind for years. When I was a kid growing up, I reached age ten which was the time I was allowed to go deer hunting by myself. That included visiting deer camps and seeing real hunters. Back then, hunters wore woolen clothes either made by Johnson Woolen Mills in Johnson, Vermont, or Woolrich woolen clothes from Woolrich, Maine...I thought. It was only during this trip to Maine that I found out that Woolrich, no less a maker of fine woolen garments, was actually from Pennsylvania although both Woolrich, Maine and Woolrich, Pennsylvania were no doubt named after the same town in England. Whether it be clothes by Johnson or Woolrich, my early deer hunting dreams sought out a .300 magnum rifle and green plaid woolen pants and coat--identities of "real" hunters.

The reason I mention Woolrich is that it's also home to The Shelter Institute, another place on my list of places to visit, things to do. The Shelter Institute offers courses in building small houses and learning post and beam construction. The thought of a course rings louder every year as I really want to build a camp down towards Peacham Pond and post and beam is the way I want to go. The Shelter Institute came to mind immediately as I looked at the Reid State Park beach and saw primitive structures reaching more than half a mile down the shore.The implication is mine alone and I don't want to misrepresent such as fine company with the suggestion that you learn house building by stacking driftwood, but factually, primitive shelters begin that way and these were examples to me.

We set up our chairs and began our relentless reading and relaxing--two pursuits that follow seven days a week in our gardens since Vermont's white stuff stopped falling. Every once in a while I'd look up at the structures and think about who built them....a pointless curiosity but a gnawing thought. As I glanced up from reading the latest copy of Northern Woodlands Magazine (subscribe folks!) I noticed a group of a dozen older looking folks at the top of the beach trail. One by one then slowly inched to the beach and it was clear they were a group of seniors out and about for the day. One man worked his way to the largest, closest structure, and then bent over, picked up a large piece of driftwood and leaned it up against the other wood. He had made his contribution to shelter building. He must have been heading towards 80 years old but the smile on his face showed an enthusiasm similar to his younger years. His companions cheered him for his accomplishment. Although I couldn't get the camera going fast enough to catch the "pick up the wood" part, here's part of the sequence.

By now good gardeners are probably wondering how come I am bunny hopping around with conversation devoid of gardening info. Rightful question but gardeners are people and I'll bet there was a time when this man was a passionate gardener. For this day, just like me, he was enjoying a piece of Maine and a bright sunny day.

Writing from a beach in Maine where the sun is up, the morning is warm, the seagulls are talking in terms I don't understand, and people are all saying the same thing..."Isn't this a wonderful day?"

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

FYI: If you ever head down the peninsula to Reid State Park, stop at Georgetown Pottery. It has some of the nicest Ikebana vases you'll find. One vase, one late blooming daylily scape, one piece of clematis or hops vine and you'll witness contemplative floristry at its finest! And yes, you can do it yourself!


Thomas said...

Great post. If only everyday can be like that.

George Africa said...

Thank you, Thomas! I hope other visitors will scoot over to your blog and view some mouth watering pies baked to perfection. Something there is about a baker and a pie crust.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

Benjamin Vogt said...

That was a lovely read. Been enjoying your blog this afternoon. It was 57 here yesterady afternoon and I put on socks--can't imagine 30s yet. Thanks for the trip to Maine, as well, always wanted to go, but Nebraska is a long long trip.