Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Knitting, Eating Lobster and Watching Sunsets...Am I in heaven?

My two weeks on vacation are always the perfect antidote for the pressure and stress of the rest of the year. Knitting has been an ongoing source of relaxation for me so pairing it with the easy lifestyle of my getaway makes it an even more wonderful pasttime. I brought a number of projects in progress as well as yarn and patterns to begin new ones. But, as usual, the joy was in the journey rather than the race to complete my items. I reveled in the experience of knitting in new and unusual spots...

McClellan Park

Grindstone Neck in Winter Harbor

And, of course, outside the cottage overlooking the lake

(Note to self: NEVER let anyone take pictures of me from this angle again! Legs that resemble giant sequoia trees are never flattering.)

My waterside knitting was primarily devoted to a pair of socketta socks for myself:

and a pair of fixation footies for Meredith:

(I'm still working on these two weeks later which should give you some idea of why my delicious stretches of uninterrupted knitting on vacation were so precious.)

I also completed Meredith's "constant companion" bag for school but will unveil that beauty in a separate post.

My family has a wonderful tradition on the second Thursday of the vacation (two days before we head home). We leave the cottage around noon and head for the Gouldsboro Peninsula, a remote, rural Washington County area rimmed with scenic lobstering villages and summer colonies. We stop at a small restaurant named Chase's to pick up a picnic lunch of fried haddock sandwiches, chowder and Meredith's favorite: fried clams. Then we head for Grindstone Neck, a small stone beach at the end of a collection of summer "cottages" large enough to fit our entire house in their living room. Seagulls hover above us waiting for a moment of inattention and their chance to snag some of our food. Isla stands guard as if to say to them, "Not on my watch, you cheeky scavengers!"

After lunch, Brendan, Meredith and Isla go off exploring the rocky crevices and tidal pools:

and then we take a few family pictures for use in our Christmas letter:

After a couple of hours, we pack up and reluctantly leave this beautiful spot. As we drive past the massive summer homes, we each pick out our favorites and note any changes from last summer.

Our next stop is to visit our friend Bob in Winter Harbor, just up the road to pick up some lobsters. For many years, Bob worked at the lobster dock in Corea, one of the small Gouldsboro peninsula villages, unloading the lobster boats, tallying the daily catch, and assisting the boat owners with refueling and re-baiting for the next day. Over the past thirty years, we had spent many hours standing dockside watching the process and enjoying the good-natured banter of the men, their thick downeast Maine accents lilting and foreign sounding.

Bob is retired now but, as is the case with most people of the region, still keeping his hand in, selling lobster, crabs and camp firewood bundles from his home. He is probably in his 70's but looks younger and maintains a twinkle in his eye, despite an ongoing battle with cancer. He greets us with hugs and handshakes and sells us three large hard-shelled lobsters at a ridiculously low price, his way of affirming our friendship. He is particularly interested in hearing about Meredith's work at school and invokes her to "study hahd, young lady" in a mock stern voice. Amidst goodbye hugs, we all silently wonder if Bob will be here next year and say a little prayer that he can prevail against the cancer. He is such an amazing person, so representative of the ruggedness, good humor and genuine warmth of this beautiful area. God Bless You, Bob! Keep fighting!

Now we head home to cook up our lobsters. We have learned from experience not to clutter the table with anything beyond the lobsters and some cups of melted butter... no potatoes, corn, or even a salad. Just the luscious lobsters followed by a trip to Jordan's ice cream stand in Ellsworth for dessert.

No gourmet dinner in any five star restaurant compares to eating those lobsters on the porch...

and then watching one of our last vacation sunsets until our next vacation...

Goodbye, Georges Pond! We'll be back soon, I promise!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Granite and blueberries...more about a perfect vacation

Two weeks of a downeast Maine vacation is sheer bliss! After having my first week to myself, Brendan arrives on Sunday. The weather is perfect and the forecast is for more of the same. Milbridge is a perfect little coastal village about 20 minutes downeast from our cottage. Brendan, Isla and I take a picnic lunch and spend Monday at McClellan Park in Milbridge, a gorgeous spot on the granite cliffs overlooking the ocean. Here are some pictures from that beautiful afternoon...

It was an idyllic afternoon in a place we hope to return to often in the future.

This was an amazing year for blueberries. In the thirty years that we have been visiting our favorite lake, I can never remember seeing as many blueberrries in the barrens as this year. We could literally walk along the road and gather buckets full of the delicate sweet lowbush berries. On one of our morning walks I took these pictures...

 On our last day of vacation we traditionally go picking and after a short trip into the fields this is what we harvested to bring home...

 Poor Brendan spent almost a week sorting and cleaning the berries, preparing them to be frozen for us to use during the year. He was pretty sick of looking at blueberries by the time he finished!

 Meredith arrived on Tuesday and used the next few days to unwind from her hectic summer of working at her internship and her busy social schedule. She was leaving for her fall semester at the University of Vermont in only a week so this was her last chance to kick back and relax.

Next Post: Lobsters and Knitting...betchya can't wait :-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vacation Memories *sigh*

Why does the time spent on vacation go so much faster than any other time of the year? Those two weeks were a much needed respite from the craziness of the rest of the year...gorgeous weather, time with family and friends, good food, lots of naps, time to kick back, read, knit and NAP!

This was the view from the living room right after I arrived...

Isla and I settled in and set about the business of relaxing...

(Such a tough job but somebody has to do it!)

We took long walks every morning, exploring the woods and blueberry fields. It was so much fun watching Isla running and jumping through the trees, investigating every nook and cranny.

On Thursday, Lyndsay and Sue came to visit for a few days and we had a blast yakking, knitting, sightseeing, cooking, and laughing until we split a gut! Thanks so much for coming up, guys! It was SOOOOOOOO much fun! Here are some pics from our day "out and about"...

Here they are at Schoodic Point

...and once I FINALLY figured out the timer do-hickey thing on my camera (I can be so technologically challenged at times), I was able to take this picture of the three of us with Cadillac Mountain in the background...

Ok, so we ended up blocking the mountain... trust me, it's back there.

We even ended our day with a trip to the LYS, Shirley's Yarns and Crafts, where we indulged our yarn addictions. What could be more perfect?

Mornings are amazing on the lake, a perfect time to go out in the boat to fish, watch the mist burn off the cool water and marvel at the loons as they travel around the lake. I love to fish but release everything I catch, mostly because I don't want to deal with cleaning it. This year I caught the usual assortment of large-mouthed bass, catfish and perch but also caught my first pickerel. He was an ugly SOB, long and thin with a nasty mouthful of sharp teeth. I gingerly unhooked him and sent him off on his merry way. Here are some morning pictures from the lake...

So much to describe! I'll leave some for the next post... check back for week two: the arrival of the rest of the family, BLUEBERRIES, a gorgeous oceanside picnic, extreme knitting (you KNOW there had to be some of that!), spectacular sunsets and, of course, Lobstah!!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's VACATION time...YAY!!!!!!!


Why do I love August so much? Because it is the time of year that I abandon the "civilized" world for two weeks and recharge my batteries. Some people enjoy a vacation crammed with travel plans, airline itineraries, exotic destinations and foreign cuisines. My idea of relaxation is days without agendas, doing what I want when I feel like it, eating when and if I choose, grabbing a luxurious midday snooze, taking a leisurely row or paddle on the lake, swimming to cool off, gazing at a tranquil lake, listening to the loons at night and knowing that tomorrow I can repeat the experience all over again.

Each year I know I must be approaching this time because the little irritations of living in the city become magnified tenfold. Screaming sirens, rumbling motorcycles, clattering trucks all begin to really set my teeth on edge. I find myself daydreaming about sitting in a boat at dawn with my fishing rod surrounded by lake mist, watching the osprey swooping down to catch fish for their chicks. Sitting in traffic becomes overwhelmingly unbearable, even if NPR is airing some fascinating story about telepathic dog trainers. I am itching to be away from all of the noise pollution and calendars and to-do lists. Up there I am away from all of the modern communication "conveniences" -- no phone, no tv, no internet. Just the sounds of nature. The silence is delicious!

I particularly love the sunsets, watching the sun dip behind the trees while turning the clouds amazing shades of yellow, orange and finally a deep vermilion. This is a picture of Meredith and Brendan coming back to shore in the kayak and canoe.


What you can't see in the picture are the hundreds of bats swooping through the air, gobbling up the mosquitoes (who are, in turn, gobbling up ME!) The lake is glass smooth except for the occasional tiny splash as a fish breaks the surface to grab a bug.

Saturday I will load up my car with everything I need to wallow in my unscheduled time: my fishing gear, a kayak, my knitting (of course!), books and magazines I have stockpiled over the past few months, some CD's, more clothes than I can possibly wear in two weeks, comfortable lawn chairs, and Isla, the demon darling dog. For the past few years, I have spent the first week alone at the cottage we rent, except for Isla last year, and Lady the years before. Brendan and Meredith come up for the second week and we pick up the pace a little, taking day trips and hikes and ending the week with a trip to Corea, a small fishing village on the coast, purchasing gargantuan lobsters and bringing them back to the cottage to cook and devour.

But this first week is all mine, a time to reflect, refresh, daydream, nap, and just unwind. It's sheer heaven! I cherish each day and savor every moment, wishing I could stop time so that it would last forever.

So, it's ta-ta for the next two weeks! I promise to post pictures when I get back...if I DO decide to come back!!