Category Archives: Community

The Great Pumpkinfest: Part Two

Here are some more pictures from the Great Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta. Such a fun event! I plan to go back next year, but maybe on the Tuesday after the actual fest. That way, the pumpkins will be complete but won’t have started to decay, and there won’t be as many people.

Now, an interlude with a flower, a beautiful rose that somehow managed to bloom in October.  In Maine. It almost seems miraculous.

Back to pumpkins.

The end. Until next year.

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The Great Pumpkinfest: Part One

Yesterday, I went with my friend Dawna to Damariscotta for its annual Pumpkinfest.

Damariscotta is a lovely little village—population circa 2,000—nestled beside the even more lovely Damariscotta River, a tidal estuary of the gulf of Maine. Here is a shot looking out from town onto the river.

Because of the natural beauty, artists have been drawn to this area, which means the village has a zippy, arty vibe.

Yesterday, when we went to Damariscotta, the village was certainly zipping as various businesses and individuals were getting their giant pumpkins ready for the fest. (Today is when the fest officially opens, with a parade and many outside vendors as well as the pumpkins, of course. We were told that the town is packed, and it was best to come very early to get a parking spot.)

But first things first. As the day was drizzly but clearing,  Dawna and I decided we would begin with lunch, and that if we were lucky, the rain would be gone by the time we finished our meals. We went to a place called Crissy’s, a breakfast and coffee bar, open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

I am happy to report that my BLT was mighty tasty and it, along with every thing else on the menu, was reasonably priced. Honest food at honest prices. My favorite kind of place to eat.

And by gum, when we were done lunch, the weather had indeed cleared, and for the cherry on the sundae, the light was bright overcast, just perfect for taking pictures of pumpkins.

Outside of Crissy’s, a young woman was in the process of creating a hatching dragon inspired by one of my favorite series, Game of Thrones.

We crossed the street and came upon this beautiful carved pumpkin.

The man who was carving—I didn’t get his name—explained that this Pumpkinfest was done totally for fun. It was not a competition. There were no prizes. Now, competitions have their place, but I love the idea of a fest where the pumpkins are carved, painted, and decorated for sheer creative enjoyment. However, while I didn’t question the man any further, I expect there is still some friendly rivalry to see who can come up with the most creative pumpkin.  Whatever the case, this master carver looked as though he was having a good time.

Then, for something completely different, stylish black and white.

And next, a hideous clown. (There. Now you know how I feel about clowns. )

That’ll do for today. Tomorrow, I’ll post some more pictures of this fun Pumpkinfest, to get all of you in the mood for this season of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties.

 

 

 

 

Fire at the Post Office

img_6194Yesterday, there was a fire at our town’s post office, and the fire was so intense that it gutted the building. All morning the fire raged, and Facebook was full of images and descriptions. This put our little town in an uproar, and Clif and I had a hard time concentrating on anything else.

With that fire and destruction, we have lost an essential part of our town. Despite email, FedEx, and UPS, the postal service is vital to our community—indeed to many communities—and now there is great big burnt shell where the post office once stood.

Many people criticize the U.S Postal Service, complaining of how the federal government can’t do anything right. I beg to disagree. Sure, every once in a while my New Yorker goes missing, or we receive mail that should have gone to someone else. But not very often. Mostly, day in and day out, our mail comes, delivered by conscientious carriers who actually bring the mail to our doorstep when we have a package.

While it does cost money to send letters—still a bargain, as far as I’m concerned—and packages, it doesn’t cost anything for individuals to receive mail. You might even call the U.S Postal Service a common good, a concept that today seems as dated as poodle skirts and saddle shoes. Spending for the common good? Where’s the profit in that?

And while I’m on the subject of the common good, I must praise the firefighters, from our town and from surrounding towns, who put out the fire and stopped it from spreading to other buildings. At town meetings, there is always grousing about how much the fire department costs. Yes, there is a cost. But what would our town be like without it?

Schools, fire departments, libraries, police departments, trash removal all cost money, but they are essential to having a decent society. (I could add other things such as public transportation, too.) The point is not that they cost taxpayers money. The point is, how do we collect the money fairly so that taxes aren’t a burden on those who don’t have much?

The postal service has already sprung into action with a plan for Winthrop’s mail. Working out of Augusta, carriers have already resumed home delivery in Winthrop. For those who had post office boxes or need to pick up packages, they will go to the Manchester post office, in the town next to us. The mail will be delivered, despite the loss of our post office.

Right now, fire marshals are investigating the cause of the fire. I’m hoping it wasn’t arson.

And I expect a new post office will replace the burnt wreckage of the old one. But it will be quite a while before that happens, and, in the meantime, our post office will be sorely missed.

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No Lifeguard on Duty

Last night I had a snake dream—unfortunately,  I have recurring snake dreams. It was summer, and I was somewhere high, overlooking a field. Along came the snake, very long and whipping so fast, so fast through the grass. I have no idea what kind of snake it was, but with its brown coloring and huge size, it was probably what we Mainers call a milk adder. Then in my dream, the snake disappeared into the edge of the forest, and, lucky for me, that was that.

Funny to have such a dream because it is January in Maine, and all the snakes, great and small, are sound asleep beneath the snow.  We have had a week of wintry mix, where at times the sleet has tapped, tapped, tapped against the house and windows. Fortunately, the sleet did not leave much of a coating on the trees, and no branches fell to make us lose our power.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the public beach in town, to take some pictures, and I learned that there was no lifeguard on duty.

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The ducks didn’t seem to mind.

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I admired the bare branches of a tree against the sky,

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the weather vane on top of the gazebo,

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and the ice-fishing shacks on Maranacook Lake.

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Soon January will slide into February. One more month of deep winter, even in this time of climate change.

Saugust, If You Will

The calendar has flipped to September, and it’s almost as though the weather knows we are into a new month. Gone are the extreme heat and humidity, and I am certainly happy to see these guests leave.  With September’s arrival, we have had warm, dry days and crisp, cool nights. Why, it’s almost like Maine’s August of old, the month we all looked forward to and loved.

But, as I’m fond of saying, in Maine, with climate change, September is the new August—or Saugust, if you will. I guess it’s an ill wind that blows no good. Having an extra month of lovely warm weather is a real bonus for a state known for its long, cold winters that last through March.  (In a previous post, I suggested trading March for an extra month of August. However, I’ve changed my mind—let’s have an extra September instead.)

In September, Winthrop sees the first wave of summer people leaving for parts south. The library is quiet, with few cars parked out front. At Norcross Point, where we leave the car to go on our bike rides, there are no boats being launched.

But, oh, the blue of the water and the sky, those puffy white clouds.

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September, the month of stars—asters—and apples, where it’s still light enough to sit on the patio at night and have friends over for grilled bread and appetizers. We can wear t-shirts on our bike rides, and we don’t have to wear confining jackets, hats, or gloves.

October, with its chilly beauty, is right around the corner, but I won’t think about that.  Instead, I will revel in September, my birth month,  and all the good things that it brings.

Holiday Folderol in Which I Miss Marching in the Parade and Throwing Candy

Saturday was quite the day for little Winthrop, population 6,000. There was a craft fair at the grade school—we plan on having a table there next year—various other craft fairs around town, and a pie sale at the library. Lots of people were out and about, and there was definitely a festive air in town.

However, the prime event was the holiday parade, and my plan was to walk with other trustees and various library friends. We always have big bags of candy, which we haul in a little red wagon. I must admit, I love marching down the main street and throwing candy to the children, who scramble eagerly to get the goodies. Line-up was at 2:30, but because of my creaky knees, Clif dropped me off at 3:00 so I wouldn’t have to stand as long. We parked at Rite Aid, and all the floats and organizations seemed to be lined up along the road that went by the store. We looked up and down the line but didn’t see the library’s banner or the crew.

The line-up
The line-up by Rite Aid

“Never mind,” I said to Clif. “They must be in the line somewhere. I’ll wait here, and you can go down to lower main street and take pictures as we march.”

Clif nodded. “See you later.”

He left, and I found a rock to sit on not too far from the beginning of the parade, where the veterans waited with their flags. I watched the  dancing girls in a local dance school as they practiced their dances. Winnie-the-Pooh bounded up and down the road, and the lovely princesses from Frozen waited patiently.

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Winnie-the-Pooh and princesses, too

The parade started at 3:30, and it slowly moved forward. I looked for the library banner but didn’t see it. Margy, a friend, stopped to chat, and she hadn’t seen the library’s banner either. When the last of the floats and the marchers had passed, and it was time for the ambulances and fire trucks, I knew that I had missed the library contingency, but how?  I had watched everyone pass. Or so I thought.

Well, it seemed I would have to march down the long hill into town, but I would not be part of the parade, and I wouldn’t have any candy to throw. “Penance for my sins,” I thought as I hustled down the hill as fast as my stiff knees would allow.

Seeing the family of some of the children slated to march with the library banner, I stopped and asked, “Has the library crew marched past?”

“Oh, yes!” they assured me. “They were right after the veterans.”

“Son of a biscuit,” I thought, feeling sheepish. “How in the world had I missed them?”

When I got to the bottom of the hill and spotted two of the trustees, Mary Jane and Liz, returning to their car, I found out what had happened.

“We were across the street at the bank,” Mary Jane said, “And we were directed to march right behind the veterans.”

“We’re so sorry you missed us,” Liz said.

Me, too! From where I was sitting, I had not been able to see the bank or the library banner.

Ah, well. Clif got some decent pictures, and after the parade, we went over to Mary Jane’s house where we had her fabulous baked ziti—a recipe from the incomparable America’s Test Kitchen—garlic bread, salad, and good conversation.

Next year, I will be sure to check the bank’s parking lot. (I’ll also bring my cell phone, which I had left in the car.) After all, it would be very hard to miss, two years in a row, marching with the library banner and throwing candy.

The library crew, sans moi
The library crew, sans moi

 

Off to Dave’s Appliance to Buy a New Stove

The time has come to buy a new stove, and this is not a decision we have made lightly. Both Clif and I are of the mindset that appliances are to be replaced only when they are past the point where they can easily be fixed. For us, updating is a foreign concept.

But, alas, our stove, valiant trooper that it is, has reached the end of its days. All the burners have been replaced, but the front one is so far gone that there is no replacing it. The oven door no longer stays open by itself, and we have to lock the door when we went to bake anything. Occasionally, the lock light goes on, and we can’t open the door until the oven has cooled. Not a good arrangement.  Mostly we can avoid this by not sliding the lever all the way over. But still.

My worry is that on some crucial holiday, say, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the lock will give entirely and we either won’t be able to open the door or the door won’t close at all.

Therefore, on Saturday, we went to Dave’s Appliance, right here in town, to look at stoves. Dave’s is where we get all our appliances. Their prices are competitive with any other store that sells appliances. That is good. But what is especially wonderful about Dave’s is  the service. If something goes wrong with your stove, your washing machine, or your refrigerator,  then a repairman (always a man) comes to take a look. First he tries to fix the ailing appliance, and if it can’t be fixed, he will tell me, and I will believe him.  This kind of service is reminiscent of days past, but we have it right here in Winthrop. Is it any wonder all our appliances come from Dave’s?

A most excellent store
A most excellent store

Our budget is small, which meant we were looking at low-end stoves, and the sales clerk at Dave’s took it in stride. In fact, he did more than take it in stride. He suggested we wait until November, when all the stoves would go on sale, and we would save at least $100 on the stoves we were interested in. That is exactly what we will do. After all, we only have one more week of October.

Then there was the question of whether to buy a gas stove or another electric, similar to the one we have. Another sales clerk weighed in on the matter.  “Well,” he said, “gas is better to cook with. It’s more responsive. You can have exactly the heat you want with the burners.”

We agreed and told him we also wanted a stove that would work even when the power went out, which it does at least once a year on our road.

He nodded. “The winter storms are getting wetter and warmer, and this means more freezing rain and power outages.”

Again, we agreed, remembering the winter storms we had in the old days, when we were young. We got lots of snow, but we seldom had freezing rain, and we seldom lost our power.

“This trend with freezing rain is only going to get worse,” the clerk added.

We knew just what he meant. Climate change is here to stay. Unfortunately, after calling the gas company, we discovered the cost of hooking up a gas stove was more than we wanted to pay. This means we will stick with electric and bring up the little camp stove when the power goes out, as it inevitably does.

I will miss our old stove. It was not expensive. It is not a trendy color—I always go with white, although our old one does have some black, too. We bought the stove in the 1990s, and I have cooked over forty thousand of meals in it and on it. I know that bread takes thirty-three minutes, and brownies are done in thirty-one minutes. Ginger snaps? Eleven minutes.

Farewell, old friend. You have served us well.

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