LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

I’m too jammed up with packing to have an original thought today, much less write about it. . . .but digging through papers (as usual) I found some scribbles from a wowser of a day we spent a few years ago on the Maine coast. . .

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Buck and Beth at The Little Island House, Bass Harbor, Maine (1990)

 

Buck and I were staying at The Little Island House in Bass Harbor that trip. Charlene and Kim, the owners, lived there part of the time themselves, and so the kitchen was well-equipped and the book shelves overflowing. Charlene had outdone herself with gardening. Dahlias and mums of all varieties, sweet peas clambering all over old, stacked lobster traps, morning glories, roses, and huge rose hips made the LIH a sight to behold. It was almost like my vision of an English cottage cutting garden, incongruously set in the midst of a harsh Maine harbor village.

At high tide, The Little Island House’s name becomes clear, the gravel road disappearing for a time under rising water. Pretty startling the first time it happens.

One morning, we were on the deck, drinking Turkish coffee out of blue and white Chinese mugs with a dragon emblazoned on the side and eating french bread smeared with Blueberry Bliss jam, joined by a very dapper black and white island cat. Lazing in the bright sunshine, we experienced a real visual treat. Five fabulous masted schooners — tall ships — had anchored in Bass Harbor overnight, the Lewis R. French, the May Day, the Heritage, the Stephen Taber and the Victory Chimes. We watched as thirty to forty folks disembarked to prowl the little village. What a festive sight!

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Later in the day we made a great hike, even if I did bash my head halfway back into my neck on an overhead limb. We hiked the Little Harbor Brook Trail to an unnamed pathway up the backside of Eliott Mountain. It was well marked with piles of rock called cairns. The climb was a fairly steep thousand feet or so. Then we visited Thuya Gardens, coming into its beautiful world via the back gate. Thuya is a hybrid of an English formal garden and a Japanese garden. The overall tone is exquisitely Japanese.

Leaving the gardens, we went back up Eliott Mountain — the signpost truly no more specific than that — the imprinted sign said “Up.” We traversed a connector trail toward Jordan Pond and then back down the Little Harbor Brook Trail to the car, all in all about six miles.

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We ate half a cheese sandwich about ten minutes into the hike, sitting on a log beside the brook. The water was astonishingly clear. We did manage to see two fish, but they moved so quickly, we joked that it took two of us to see one fish. We also saw several squirrels and chipmunks, a small grass snake, and a fat rabbit who appeared to be a most contented resident of the Thuya Gardens, perhaps an expatriate of the woods outside the gate. The weather was perfectly clear and crisp, just right for a walk in the Maine woods.

We had gone over to the C. H. Rich crab house before hiking and picked up a pound of their wonderful claw crab meat, picked so carefully by companionable ladies in hairnets, sitting around a rectangular vinyl topped table. This was our dinner., along with an excellent ear of corn and whole wheat french bread dipped in fruity olive oil, which I had doctored with some chopped garlic, basil and oregano. A Coors lite beer was perfect accompaniment to the crab, which was warmed gently in a little butter, lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning.

Ahh, that was a relaxing reverie. Now back to packing!

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