Of Blueberries, And Fog, And Old Friends
By The Ithaka - Published September 15, 2004 - Viewed 1013 times
September 15, 2004
Tenants Harbor, Maine
43° 57.819 North
069° 12.121 West
Of Blueberries, And Fog, And Old Friends
By Bernadette Bernon
There have been a three constants on Ithaka over the past two weeks. One, the fog has thickly cloaked us, so that no matter where we sail, we see with the radar. Two, with the help of study tapes, Douglas has been struggling to memorize his Morse Code, so that he can sit for the FCC’s Code exam and hopefully earn the Ham General Class license. This means that, in response to my wit and scintillating observations, instead of responding with the charm and insight I covet, there’s been a cacophony of “dot and dit” noises emerging from my beloved morning, noon and night; all other “noise” aboard (me) has to be kept to a minimum. The third constant is that we’ve been in the throes of a blueberry frenzy, eating pints of the purply blue jewels almost every day now, and making them into pies, soups, and sauces.
Announcing the peaking of the blueberry crop.
On a crystal-clear day, with a great wind filling our sails, and giddy with the ability to see far and wide for a change, we sailed from Blue Hill through the usual maze of lobster buoys, to Deer Isle in Penobscot Bay, all the while listening to the urban agonies of Harry Chapin emanating from our CD player.
Along Merchant’s Row are some of the most beautiful islands in Maine.
Deer Isle, separated from the mainland by Eggemogin Reach, has towns and villages sprinkled around it with lovely names begot of other eras, such as Sunset, Sunshine, Mountainville, Oceanville, and Stonington, the last one named for the granite quarrying that made Stonington a boom town in the late 19th century. It was during those years that many Europeans came to Maine, mostly from Italy, to work as stone cutters in the state’s burgeoning granite business. In Stonington, as the story goes, the Italians missed their arias so much that they built an opera house. It still stands over the town today, a relic of a bygone time; for the most part, the quarries of Stonington, and those of most of Maine, are now silent.
Paying tribute to the stone carvers of Stonington.
We visited our friend Betsy in Sylvester Cove, on Deer Isle, and through her had a glimpse of the country life. The bookshelves of her house are piled high with novels and reference books, and lots of games and puzzles for her children. We didn’t see a television. One day, Betsy and Douglas went out to the forest to collect mushrooms – I mean, how idyllic is that? -- which we made that night into an amazing risotto.
Another day, Betsy fired up her runabout, and together we zoomed out to visit a few of the uninhabited islands. As we rolled up our pant legs, pulled the boat ashore, and walked around in the streams, she taught us all about their delicate ecosystems. This was where Betsy had grown up, and her stories were from a lifetime of exploring the islands of Penobscot. Her family still had the house that had been built by her great-grandmother, who’d bought the land it sat on—in the 1870s—for $25, and who’d had everything brought in by schooner.
Betsy and Bernadette
We drove through Brooklin, where writers Ann Seddons and Roger Angel live, and where the poet E. B. White’s house still stands, almost just as he left it, including his writing cabin with much of its original furniture. Maine seems to draw artists, and especially writers, to its idiosyncratic community of full-time residents mixed with summer people. Often, when Douglas and I would peruse the book-trade shelves in any hotel or gathering spot during our travels in Maine, we’d notice there’d always be collected volumes of Walt Whitman, E. B. White, and other poetry, mixed in with lots of liberal-minded political books, and other odd nods to the literary life; one afternoon we found “An Introduction to the Readings Of Hegel.” The binding had never been cracked, and I imagined the noble intentions of the person who’d thought he might plow through it over a summer holiday. Perhaps it’s a combination of the vagaries of the fog and weather, a stunning landscape that entices you to stop and stare as your surroundings disappear to white, and then appear again, but people seem inspired to do a lot of reading and noodling here.
One of Betsy’s hobbies is identifying edible mushrooms.
An old decoration from the side of the Stonington Opera House.
The Stonington Opera House still stands. Today it’s home to a thriving arts scene.
The town of Stonington, as seen from Ithaka ’s cockpit.
Indeed, one day at the Tenants Harbor Market, the town’s only food store, and a teeny one at that, trying to get our T-Mobile cell phone to work, I stood with three other sailors – all of us in full foul-weather gear, one foot on the street, one foot on the curb, because that was the exact and only spot that you could get coverage for miles around. Across the street? Nothing. Farther in on the sidewalk? Nope. The result was that those of us on the curb who had Verizon (one guy) could make calls from that spot. Those of us with other carriers were flat out of luck.
The fog encourages cozying up to some good food and company. Here’s a platter of sushi made by a gathering of friends.
The sunsets are spectacular from Sylvester Cove.
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