The End of October

We finally closed for the season the other day because the wind and the rain made life outdoors too inhospitable for everyone involved…but it’s always with a mixed emotions.  Sure, we’re happy to move into a quieter time where we have long, uninterrupted stretches to focus on tasks at hand but conversely, it’s more fun to talk with guests than it is to dive into the stacks of paperwork we’ve put off for months postponed until the appropriate time.

When the weather turns colder, we turn our attention towards the gardens, getting the flock shorn and the yarn dyed, winterizing the park and doing yard work on steroids (a few of the numbers: 140 picnic tables to contend with, about 15 building to maintain, seemingly miles of waterline to empty and fill with non-toxic antifreeze, and more tractors than a girl should know about that need to be sorted and stored for winter).

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When we’re tired, it can seem a bit overwhelming but we’ve adopted a mind tool that’s helped enormously over the years.  I’ve seen it called reverse gratitude and basically, instead of groaning at the task at hand (like covering umpteen garden beds with seaweed), you remind yourself and (each other) that it’s a blessing to live on the coast where seaweed is readily available to amend the soil.  Instead of groaning over the buckets of apples that need to be cleaned off the playground before the lawnmower can pass a final time, you find gratitude in knowing that the apples will provide treats to the sheep and goats for months and that always makes us smile.  You get the picture 😉

missrumphius

Pictures and thankfulness…I wish I could tell you that I planned this clever segue but I didn’t.  When we welcome people into our world, it’s always with the tiniest bit of trepidation the first time we meet because we put our heart and soul into all of Searsport Shores and if someone doesn’t like it, it’s very hard to be mature enough not to take it personally.  But we know we’re a business and every year we welcome our guests and most serve as reminders that we LOVE owning a campground.  Occasionally someone really leaves an imprint on our hearts because they “get us” better than we can explain ourselves.  Ellen, @noticedwhilewandering, is one of those women.  First she visited the park with her sister, then she came with extended family and later returned for the Old-Time Music Campout.   In the spring we didn’t know her, in September we considered her a friend.  Last week our mailbox was stuffed with a gift, a book that reminded her of us…Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney has been a favorite of ours since the cover drew us in years ago.  Words can’t say how proud we are that when Ellen reads Miss Rumpius’ advise to her niece “You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” she thinks of us.

Our world is more beautiful because our shepard’s flock has increased by one :).  We’re thankful to Denise of Fernwood Nursery in Montville for gifting us one of her gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester ewes.  We call her “Esther the Leicester” and she’ll be growing incredibly shiny long curls of wool for me to blend with the goats’ mohair.  I’ve been spinning and weaving longwools for a long time now, but from this day forward, all of the wool will be raised here at the Shores .  To celebrate Esther, I used some of that yarn to weave fabric for a new winter coat.  In between sessions in the studio, I’ve been mending all some of the holes we manage to make, harvesting the fall vegetables from the garden and dyeing up enough yarn with seawater and cochineal (dried bugs from Mexico) to weave a crimson blanket by Christmas…don’t you just love these long autumn afternoons?

woolwork

With the waterlines winterized and the gardens put to bed, tomorrow Steve and I are off to Madawaska (North of Baxter State Park) and New Brunswick to meet with Acadian Fiber Artists we hope will teach at Fiber College next September.  We intend to catch up with some old friends, eat lots of poutine, ployes and potatoes while we’re there and carry back loads of inspiration for the months ahead.  If you follow us on Instagram, we’ll be posting daily pictures of our adventure, I (Astrig) am @campingwithart and Steve is @campmaine

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Until next time…

It’s beginning to feel like Spring

The roads are soft, the air is soft, the plants are greening and the flock is begging to graze in the campground…The days are getting longer and we’ve finally been able to spend more time outside…and we’ve noticed:

FlowerCollage

If you’ve camped here before, you know that we have very few problems with black flies and mosquitos in the park.  We never spray chemicals, instead we plant our gardens to attract birds that eat biting insects, have frog ponds that keep the larva population low and every year we add birdhouses so that our feathered friends stay close by.

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And then there’s the critters…the goats and sheep do so much for us here…this time of year they happily keep the grounds clipped and then we clip them for wool that we use in blankets, sweater and rugs…isn’t that perfect?

flocksflourishesCollage

And we’ve just ordered new rental trailers for the pleasure of our guests.  Do you know anyone who might want to purchase one of our gently used models from past camping seasons?  They are really quite a bargain because they’ve never been hauled on the road over potholes and problems, never been smoked in and haven’t hosted any pets…at the moment we have three for sale…priced at blue book value less 20% in the month of April…and we’d consider most any trade.

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Loving the Fall

Once again time has flown…we’ve shifted gears from “full tilt boogie” with summer guests, soared through Fiber College and spent last weekend at the Common Ground Fair and sharing an old time music jam with friends old and new.

How exactly did we keep track of the day to day highlights of our life before we carried a camera/phone in our pocket during all of our waking hours?  Here’s a tour of my tiny, daily captures:

Fall Harvest...another month to go?
Fall Harvest…another month to go?
We hosted our final lobsterbake this weekend...it was an honor to participate in the memorial weekend of a beloved guest...so many memories
We hosted our final lobsterbake this weekend…it was an honor to participate in the memorial weekend of a beloved guest…so many memories
The first annual Old Time String Band Meet Up...next year watch for details, end of September 2016
The first annual Old Time String Band Meet Up…next year watch for details, end of September 2016
Baskets of wool washed for a winter of spinning, knitting and weaving.
Baskets of wool washed for a winter of spinning, knitting and weaving.
The days are getting shorter and the skies are getting bluer.
The days are getting shorter and the skies are getting bluer.
Millie the Jacob lamb has joined our little spinner's flock...we're so happy and Maggie loves the company!
Millie the Jacob lamb has joined our little spinner’s flock…we’re so happy and Maggie loves the company!

I hope that you all enjoyed the solstice and you find time to celebrate these last glorious afternoons of warm sunshine.  We’ll be open for guests until at least October 15th, after that it all depends on the weather…I’m keeping my fingers crossed for languid afternoons until Halloween!

Blue Skies, Red Lobsters, Strawberries & Goats

The weather this week has been phenomenal. Blue skies dominate nearly everyday. Yesterday’s ride up and lunch in Bar Harbor was exceptional. While Boston bakes, its been nice and breezy, no humidity to speak of and plenty of good company. I’ve continued taking photos and again only my favorites made it here to share with you

Lunch at Bar Harbor
Lunch at Bar Harbor

Saturday July 5 was the first lobsterbake of the season. While some family members were a bit nervous about how everything would go I somehow knew that it would be good. Fresh air, fresh local ingredients, everyone in low stress, high vacation mode, what could go wrong. Perhaps my years of working at the Boston Pops and knowing true chaos gave me an underlying confidence. But it should come as no news that the lobsterbake turned out to be a big hit. All the foods were cooked perfectly and served hot. The lobsters and mussels were flavorful, the corn fresh, the bread (my responsibility) turned out yummy, and the homemade strawberry shortcake was outstanding. I kept serving more mussels and steamers, the baskets somehow never emptying. The folks chowed down and everyone had a good time.

Maine Lobstahs
Maine Lobstahs

As result of all the good weather, produce has been growing. Everything here is organic, lettuce keeps coming, heirloom beans, peas, garlic carrots, onions, parsley and oregano are used nearly everyday in meals. But the biggest and best are the strawberries. The first day I’m here we pick them and they could look any better. I mean they are beyond anything photoshop could ever produce. And they taste just amazing. Red, ripe and juicy, we have shortcake desserts, daiquiris, and with morning cereals. I will definitely miss the berries when I leave.

Just picked Strawberries
Just picked Strawberries

The Goats are the newest addition to the camp. The grey one is named Neeshee and the white one is Lollie (or Queen Lollie). They sometimes bleat at night or early morning. The camp kids seem to take to the goats, herding them around, feeding them and making them feel special. They eat nearly anything green and seem to be constantly grazing. I’ve yet to see any goat milk or cheese but perhaps that’s in the works for later on.

Thanks again for reading! Ken, the guest blogger from Boston

We're always hungry!
We're always hungry!