Tag Archives: Maine


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Following my own advice to “explore just outside your front door,” last week was devoted to poking around the peninsulas of mid-coast Maine. Hitting what’s been the best weather of the year so far, it’s easy to love this area … sunshine or not. But sunshine we had and I’m here to report on one of my favorite places anywhere.

I learned about Bayside years ago, when my husband and I traveled the coast and happened to hear about it from a local. It isn’t marked on the main road; we were simply advised to turn at the Mexican restaurant and follow the road to the water. We did, we followed, we discovered. This is a charming little piece of the history of Maine.

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Bayside was founded in 1849 by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Maine.  The first purchase of land was only 25 acres; the intent of the church was to have a summer recreational area where they could gather once a year for worship and spend time socially in this beautiful area of Penobscot Bay.  And for 25 years these pioneer churchmen and farmers pitched their tents under the oaks and birches and worshipped God with sermons, songs and old fashioned religious fervor.

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As years passed, the tents gradually gave way to wooden cottages, the first being built in 1869.  In 1875 the Wesleyan Grove House was built, launching the campground to its fate as a summer resort in addition to its religious mission. Building lots were being sold at prices from $5 to $15 and more acreage was being purchased all the time. By the end of 1879, 40 cottages had been built – ultimately over 300 cottages were constructed and most of them are still here today.

By the 1880s Bayside was in full swing as a summer resort.  Steamships came from as far away as Boston.  One report mentions as many as seven steamers coming to the landing dock (still here today) in a single day.  The report goes on to say that “250 Hampden belles and their beaux came down Tuesday on the steamer Clifford.”  Bayside was the place to be!

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In the 1890’s more cottages had been built along with several retail shops to handle the needs of hundreds of visitors.  This was the era of clam bakes, picnics, hay rides, firemen’s musters, band concerts and excursions.  The first hotel had burned down but a new and larger one was put up.  Even a bowling alley was constructed, along with parks, a ball field, and tennis courts.

The glory of the late 1800’s is no longer present in Bayside, but the character of that old community still lies in the architecture and the people who come here year after year.  Many cottages have been owned by the same families for generations and there is a strong community involvement by those owners to keep Bayside as a place preserved in time.

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While wandering the quiet, narrow roads we met a man walking his dog who described his experience living here. In 1989 he bought his cottage for $5800; today it’s worth approximately $400,000 even though it’s on a 60×60′ lot. The original structure had a basement that was hand-dug, the cottage wide open, and you had to go outside for a toilet, but it had a wonderful old parlor stove, double mantel, and nice woodwork. Over the years he and his wife fixed it up; talking to us he lamented the taxes and the snowplow driver (who he claimed hated Bayside) but did show pride in the fact that his cottage was one of the nicest.

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What Bayside offers today are walks along the shore roads, with loons swimming nearby and the occasional seal looking for breakfast. Sailboats moored on the bay offer a beautiful backdrop to the island in the distance and Blue Hill on the horizon.  On clear days the mountains of Acadia are the distant shadows. Come here to hunt for beach glass. Swing on the swingset. Admire the charming architecture and clever cottage names (“Sqeezed Inn”). Sleep. Rest. Restore. Bayside is rare, untouched, and safe and sound in the 21st century.

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Source: http://www.baysidecottagerentals.com/Bayside



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Labor Day … the end of summer, beginning of the school year, kickoff to autumn, the long slide to winter …….

We can just stop there. We all know what’s coming.

So let’s forget all that, and instead spend a summer day in beautiful Kennebunkport, Maine. I know what you’re thinking: tourist trap. The Bush compound. An overabundance of tee-shirt shops.

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Yes, there is all that. But Kennebunkport has a long history, and while I won’t attempt to recount that here I will point out that the town came to be in 1653 under the name Cape Porpoise. Its inhabitants were driven off by the first Indian wars and returned to reorganize in 1718 under the name Arundel. In 1820 the name was changed to Kennebunkport, which was likely derived from an Indian word. In the early 1600s timber was harvested and a thriving shipbuilding industry grew; but as trade increased and larger ships became necessary the shallow Kennebunk River was unable to accommodate them. As in nearby Ogunquit, by the late 1800s tourists were coming via the railroad to enjoy seaside villages and the rest, as they say, is history.

The seaside communities known as “the Kennebunks” now include Arundel and Cape Porpoise, Maine.

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Lucky me, this town – and the Maine coast – is only a pretty hour’s drive from my house. If it were up to me, I’d be here once a week. Yes, in the summertime the crowds and traffic can be a nightmare – there is just one narrow road into town – but on this day we were blessed with surprisingly few other visitors. I found a parking place on one of the village streets, the perfect place to start to get to know K’port … right in the middle of all its glorious architecture.

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Colonial, Greek Revival, Federal … the grand homes here line the streets. I could spend hours here with my camera and never even make it to Dock Square. But we bypassed the photo ops and made our way to the charming center of town, giving in to the profusion of flowers, beachy décor, tourist whatnot and shops vying for our attention.

This is a wonderful place to wander. It isn’t big. Everything smells of salt air. There are pretty details around each corner. The sea glass jewelry was just begging me to fork over some dollars. At the end of the day all I bought was a lighthouse charm of sorts that will probably hang from a purse; it was six bucks. I’m a cheap date.

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But you can spend lots of money here if you want to. There are gorgeous old inns, five-star restaurants, and handmade clothing and crafts. I remember years ago visiting here with my parents and I saw a pink sweater in a window calling my name. The tag on it said it was $200. My dad said he would buy it for me, but I couldn’t do it. Would I remember this moment so clearly if he had bought it for me? I don’t know. The gesture was enough. My mom found a bracelet that she loved with a price tag that stopped her, but later she regretted not buying it. I still look for the darn thing – or something similar – every time I get over here.

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Kennebunkport worked its magic on us and we drove home in the dark, with salt in our tangled hair and on our skin. I have a thing for anything sea-related, and my friend – who had never been to Maine – seemed happy enough with the experience. We’d visited a beach at Cape Porpoise and a French bakery in K’port, coffee and art galleries in Dock Square. I came home with photos and a six-dollar souvenir, and new memories with a good friend in a good town in a great little corner of Maine. Bring on the Autumn.

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Twelve thoughts

P1160660 (Large)“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”   [Ansel Adams]

P1150187 (Large)“The camera’s only job is to get out of the way of making photographs.”
[Ken Rockwell, Your Camera Does Not Matter]

P1010473 (Large)“The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.”  [author unknown]

P1060902 (Large)“The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.”   [Henri Cartier-Bresson]

Photo Sep 22, 4 55 12 PM (Large)“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
[Ansel Adams]

P1080513 (Large)“Photography is all about secrets. The secrets we all have and will never tell.”
[Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter] (I liked this book!)

P1010852 (Large)“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”   [Ansel Adams]

Smoky (Large)“I shutter to think how many people are underexposed and lacking depth in this field.”   [Rick Steves]

P1160105 (Large)“I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it.”
[author unknown]

P1160107 (Large)“A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.”   [Arnold Newman]

P1070007 (Large)“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”   [Elliott Erwitt]

P1160056_ (Large)“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”
[Peter Adams]

Beach day

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With out-of-town company this week, the focus was on showing off some of the beautiful New England towns within driving distance of my own. Yesterday, with temperatures in the 80s, clear skies and no humidity, we packed up and headed to Ogunquit, Maine.

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I had some serious reservations about this plan (even though it was my idea). In case you haven’t heard, the Maine coast is pretty popular in the summer. Route 1 can look like a parking lot. Parking is at a premium. And of course in addition to being a warm summer day, it was the Fourth of July weekend.

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But despite all this we went ahead with our plan. Ogunquit, which is an Abenaki Indian word meaning “beautiful place by the sea”, was originally a village within Wells, established in 1641. Fishing and shipbuilding thrived here, but the cove was unprotected and fishermen had to haul their boats ashore each night. In an effort to create a safe anchorage, they dug a channel to connect the cove with a river, and erosion further helped to widen the passage. The village, the tidewater basin and the 3+ miles of beach and sand dunes were eventually discovered by artists and it became a popular art colony and then a tourist area. The Ogunquit Art Colony was established in 1898 and over time hotels and inns were built to accommodate the summer crowds. Today it is alive with bright colors, vintage charm, flowers spilling out of containers, and the smell of the sea.

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The universe was on our side today. Although the traffic on Route 1 was bumper-to-bumper, it was moving. Or, crawling. We got what must have been the last parking spot in town, in one of the two town lots (even the attendant there told us “Ogunquit is full!”) We stopped for lunch at a café called The Wild Blueberry, just because my friend liked the name, and were seated immediately. There was live piano/cello music coming from the next room. She was taken with this town right away, pronouncing it Cute. I told her to just wait – by the end of the day she would be on Cute overload.

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Photo Jul 06, 3 06 45 PM (Large)My favorite part of Ogunquit is the Marginal Way, a mile-long footpath that meanders along the Atlantic shore. On this day, with the tide out, families had come to let their kids roam the sandy beaches and explore the rocks; we took off our shoes and waded into the cold water too. The Marginal Way, paved and mostly level, is edged with pink beach roses and bittersweet (not evident until fall), and punctuated by a small, purely decorative lighthouse midway along the path. We stopped at a little beach covered with smooth round blue-gray stones and searched for stones that were shaped like hearts.

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At the end of the Marginal Way lies tiny Perkins Cove. Here are a few restaurants, a handful of shingled shops, and a cove full of lobster boats. A little drawbridge allows for high-masted sailboats to pass, and for visitors to walk over to the other side. We walked the docks, visited the shops, breathed in all that good salt air, and got lemonade and onion rings on a waterside deck in the shade.

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By 7 pm we were tired – that good tired that comes from a day at the beach: salt-sticky skin, tangled hair, and definitely on Cute overload. But it’s all good. Even if that’s not what you’re looking for, finding Ogunquit is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s classic, simple, time-honored New England seaside goodness.

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Blueberry days

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On this sunshine-perfect August day my friend Judy and I decided to go on a hunting expedition. Two years ago she had stumbled across a farm advertising pick-your-own, and she’d gotten some currants. I’d been bugging her ever since about finding this place again, because the sauce she’d made from those currants was heavenly. I wanted currants of my own.

So we ditched the office and set out to find currants or, at the very least, blueberries. We knew the farm was in Eaton, New Hampshire, just a mile or so from the Maine border. Although we’d looked before and hadn’t found it, we reasoned that this time of year they would surely have a sign out. We turned off the main road at the Eaton town beach (which has a beautiful view of the little village) and headed north on the Brownfield Road.

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We drove and drove, and Judy insisted that the road we were looking for had two words in it … so we turned up several, with no luck. One took us high up on a rise, with a little gazebo at the top and gorgeous views of the New Hampshire hills, and dead-ended into a driveway.  A little embarrassed, we asked the residents if they knew of the farm; she said go back down the road, turn right, and look for the signs.

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And indeed there was a sign – BerryKnoll Farm, on Old Portland Road (two words in the road name!). Turning in, we followed a long dirt road that opened up into a lovely setting with a shingled house on the left and fields of berries on the right; stone walls divided the space. Except for birds, it was complete quiet.

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A table was set up near the parking area; this farm operates on the honor system, and the items on the table included a book with recipes for all the berries offered here, a sign detailing where to pick and how to write a check, berry boxes, an Indiana Jones plastic bucket (I am not sure of the purpose of this) and a berry box with a rock holding down a stack of money. Honesty prevails here on the Maine border.

We did meet the owner, Mr. Sorenson, and he said currants are out of season. Disappointed, we vowed to come back in July of next year, and instead focused on blueberries – of which there were many, many bushes. Blueberries were $4 for a quart. He steered us to a patch that he thought we might like, hoping to get 3 quarts each.

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I have never seen blueberry bushes this size – they were almost as tall as we were – and they were loaded. They looked like bunches of purple grapes! (This man has a master’s degree in horticulture, and it shows.) I couldn’t get over it. I picked a quart of berries standing in one spot. They were so ripe, it was raining blueberries from the overripe ones dropping to the ground. I kept taking pictures. They were beautiful and they were plentiful!

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Once we’d picked our fill, we wandered the grounds a bit. We visited the row of currants that we hope to pick next year. We looked at the headstone of the previous owners of the property buried here (you can do this in New Hampshire). And we admired the daylilies, phlox, grapes and rows of raspberries nearby … with a backdrop of the shingled house, garage, and saphouse. Mr. Sorenson also has 80+ taps on his sugar maples, and raises bees on a back lot. Along with being a county commissioner, this is one talented man.

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Our boxes of blueberries were safely stowed on the floor of Judy’s Subaru and we headed back home. When we once again reached the Eaton town beach, we noticed a small sign that read, “Blueberries, 1-1/2 miles.” If only we’d seen that 2 hours earlier … but then, would the afternoon been as much fun?

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Probably not.


Fine focus: bicycles

This is the fourth installment in a series of photo collections, organized by theme.  I really don’t know why anyone would intentionally go out and photograph bicycles, but I found quite by accident that I seem to have done just that, and often enough to have a collection!  The photo above is one of my favorites, taken in a medieval village in southwest France and set up apparently to call attention to the little shop it was parked next to.  But then, let’s face it, the French can make just about anything look beautiful … even their laundry is pretty, and I have the photos to prove it!  (Note to self for next trip:  start collection of French laundry pictures…)

So, I present here my bevy of bicycles.  Enjoy!

A show of patriotism at First Light Farm in New Hampshire

A captivating doorway in Monpazier, France

Outside an antique shop in Maine

Trafalgar Square, London

This one, in Besse, France, was almost unrecognizable under all the geraniums!





Moose Pond, Maine

While about 250,000 crazy people descended on the Lakes Region this week for Motorcycle Weekend in Weirs Beach, I opted to go in search of a quieter state.  On the other side of Freedom, New Hampshire you pass a sign that says, “Welcome to Maine … The Way Life Should Be.”  I have never doubted the veracity of this slogan, and my Saturday in Maine was just further proof.

There are over a dozen Moose Ponds in Maine.  I will not say exactly which one I visited, because maybe they are all just as beautiful.

The water was crystal clear and the surface was like glass – mirror-image along the edge of the lake, which is lined with maples, pines, and blueberry bushes.  Yellow and white water lilies are scattered across the surface, dragonflies are everywhere, fish jump just close enough to tease.

Although the pond’s name implies a moose sighting, I was not that fortunate.  A big deer ventured out to have his picture taken, though.  What didn’t I get photos of?  The osprey, the loons, and the biggest turtle I have ever seen – he was at least 12″ across.  He slipped into the water before I could even focus.

Tucked way back in a marshy cove thick with weeds and water lilies is a huge beaver abode; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one this close up.  Between this and the beaver dam was a pristine little spot with calm water, the sounds of the rushing water of the dam just behind, and the feeling that you are the only living soul on the lake.

And there WAS no one else on the lake.

Sunfish shimmer just below the surface (you can see their nests in the shallow water), the redwing blackbirds chatter as they protect their own nests, and the loon’s strange call echoes across the lake.  This pond feels untouched, unspoiled, uninhabited and unbelievably beautiful.

On a weekend where New Hampshire rumbles like thunder and you can’t find a quiet corner anywhere, Maine looks better than ever.  It’s the way life should be.