In Maine, talking about the weather isn’t just small talk…it’s an art form we hone carefully to keep our spirits up and remind ourselves that we’re not in this alone! For weeks now the temperatures have been wildly vascillating between freezing and inviting. We’ve been rocked by winds that shake the strongest trees and blow the waves way up over the retaining wall…I didn’t have my phone with me the other day to capture a picture but imagine seaweed hanging from a rosebush a football field away from the waters’ edge. The wind is even driving the wild turkeys down to the beach to forage…you might say that we’ve been experiencing an uptick in commuter traffic here on the Bay. 😆
March is more than wind though. March is for boiling maple syrup and Sunday was Maine Maple Sunday. The sugar in maple sap only appears where warm, sunny days and below-freezing nights follow each other for days on end, as they do in Maine’s long, slow spring. We celebrate every year by finding a new sugar shack to visit…this year we were at Simmons and Daughters in Morrill, about thirty minutes from the campground.
It’s tradition to boil hotdogs in the sap, pop maple corn and pour “sugar on snow” for a taffy like confection that we follow with dill pickles…the Simmons family had all of that PLUS maple syrup cotton candy! OMG…we’re going to find a way for you to taste this during one (or more) of the Wednesday Night music jams this summer…it is wicked good! I wished we’d bought more because we devoured the entire bag on the way home only to find out that if you pour vodka and lime over the confection, heaven is born…stir with a pussy willow if you’re lucky!
We didn’t plan it that way but Sunday was definitely about sugar! Before we drove to the maple house we stopped by the Only Doughnut in Belfast. It hurts my Yankee spirit to pay $3.50 for a single doughnut but before you judge, try their chocolate sea smoke glazed creation…no really, when you have the opportunity, don’t pass it up because it’s amazing! This fried confection has exactly the right combination of bitter dark chocolate, smoked sea salt and buttery glaze. In an effort to balance the morning, we took our doughnuts and hiked to the waterfall on the Little River Trail in Belfast…it’s an easy way to feel virtuous 🙂
But Sunday wasn’t just about the sugar…it was about the seafood too. Our lovely friends and beekeepers Sharon and Raymond had us over for the last of the season’s sea scallops. If you are ever lucky enough to buy a bucket of these sweet nuggets, run, don’t walk to get them. They are a treat that doesn’t compare to anything you can buy from a store…they must come straight from the diver and into your frying pan within a few hours to appreciate just how briney and wonderful a scallop cooked in a little bit of butter can be. And if your friends are truly amazing, they’ll match the scallops with 2 pounds of picky toe crab meat broiled into open face sandwiches. It couldn’t be easier or better (and this you can re-create in the summer when you get here). Use the best bread you can find (we have several bakers in the area so that’s easy), smeer the slices with mayonaise, top with crab, add a few slices of good cheese (we like the kind with hot peppers) and broil for a few minutes. Only a cold micro beer can make everything better.
I didn’t plan it this way but clearly our week was about food…maybe next week I’ll pretend that it’s about exercising and losing the winter roll we’ve carefully accumulated! Until then, be well and help the people who surround you…. stay healthy!
Go to the grocery store, chat casually at the post office, arrive 5 minutes early to a meeting and before long the conversation always gets to gardens: how fast the snow is receding? how deep the mud is on your boots? have your onions come up yet? We’re all comparing notes and wishing for the warm breath of Spring. Yesterday, while walking at the Stockton Lighthouse we heard that others were thinking of getting their peas into the ground this week, so when we came home we brushed back the seaweed to do the same…only to find ice and snow. The robins have come home but they’re working hard to get at the worms!
But there are plenty of other things to be done around here…we’ve started shearing and I’m really pleased to tell you that we’re working with a tiny wool mill in Waldoboro so that this year we’ll have more yarn and spinning batts to sell in the store.
Because we have more angora goat wool (mohair) than we have sheeps’ wool here in the campground, this year we’re partnering with Diane Hoppe of Heron Crossing Farm to blend our mohair with her beautiful Finn Sheep…and the bonus is that Diane is an absolute master at creating soft, naturally colored yarns in a myriad of shades for weaving, knitting and crocheting. Because I know myself and my weaknesses, the biggest stress in my days will be fighting the hoarding voice in my head that tells me to hide the yarn…it’s too precious to share! I know, I’m working on it.
Steve’s focus has been tree work…there’s a special window in our guys lives when the ground is hard enough to drive on without making ruts. The snow is gone but the weather is still warm enough that it doesn’t hurt to be outside all day…so they’ve been cleaning up the winter damage, identifying and dropping trees that need removal and marking out where the new plantings are going to go. Since our very first years, we’ve maintained the promise my mother made to plant two trees for every tree we cut or comes down. This moment of excitement comes to you via Steve’s phone this morning as they dropped this white pine to make more space for Mary’s dye garden:
Wishing for you: Wellness, time outdoors and a little dirt under your finger nails!
My life has been Searsport, Maine based for 29 years…with occasional excursions to really wonderful destinations. This year, the furthest I’ve gone is Camden and Rockport to the South and Mount Desert Island to the East. And it still thrills me to walk the beach and the woods everyday.
I’m paying attention to what I’m paying attention to these days. Maybe it’s because my hair is shifting to silver, maybe it’s because I’m keenly aware that I can’t read every book that catches my eye or make every project that looks so beautiful but I’ve made a March decision:
I’m going to I’m going to try and give full attention to the little things that make my world wonderful…the conversations during reservation taking, the turkeys running through the playground and teasing the goats, the walks on the beach and the melting of the ice on the trails…the ship traffic on the Bay last night.
Our Makers Guild is creating an ambitious 2021 program of art, food and music that will happen at the campground. I expect the details will be released by April 15th with registration opening at the same time. To achieve that goal, this week my task is to build out the August program we’re calling Markings: Paper and Light. There will be two class tracks: making organically shaped lampshades with handmade paper and twisted wooden bases in one track and painting and mark making with natural pigments and dyes in the other. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than walking the beach and seeing which rocks and shells make interesting drawing tools…and now I’m look at the goats’ tails and wondering how to fashion their hair into brushes.
Reality is a tough task master: I need 8 hours sleep, it takes 6-8 hours/day to run the campground and administrate the Makers Guild and I really want to weave, sew and hangout with the goats…oh and I like to cook, walk an hour or two each day and spend time cruising youtube with Steve. And I love every single piece of the puzzle I call my life…and am grateful that you are here to share it!
Wow…that’s really all that I’ve got! I’ve been thinking about how much I miss writing on our blog for ages but I had no real idea that my last post was almost a year ago. My only excuse is that it was a year like no other and I’ll leave it at that.
We’ve lost too many friends and family members to Covid to feel as though we want to celebrate but with every loss comes a re-examination of our values and the quality of the lives we lead within our community. The pandemic has amplified our awareness of how fortunate we are to be living in Searsport Maine, a gift that our ancestors never imagined they would be providing when they left the lands they knew to build a life in New England.
I remember that my grandfather kept a touchstone in his pocket. Grampa Avery was a logger from Northern New Hampshire and his touchstone was a well worn river rock that he kept in his pocket and fidgeted with when he was standing in line or waiting for someone to emerge from a shop. It was black and smooth and had an indentation for his thumb. I can’t say why but a month ago we found it wedged in the back of a drawer of his old roll top desk. I hadn’t seen it for at least 40 years but touching it brought back memories of pipe smoke, sawdust and huge calloused hands.
Touchstones is my 2021 word. Our beach is covered with them and I am forever picking them up and trying them on for size…the heart shaped ones are my favorite. Touchstone will be the 2021 organizing theme of our non-profit initiative Makers Guild of Maine and I’ve sewn an amulet bag to hold my phone, earbuds and a smooth piece of lapis that I found in my travels. This summer when you comb the beach for your perfect stone, please share your finding with me. Touchstones need to be felt to be understood; their texture, weight and temperature in our hands give meaning to the stories they hold.
No, we haven’t just been thinking deep thoughts this winter, we’ve been working through the practical too. Our living room has been transformed into a planning space with piles of work including the mundane tasks of comparing insurance policies, sorting a bazillion photos and planning music for our Wednesday at the Shores series. Being outside is where we’d rather be so we’ve been finding plenty of time to hike and cook over the fire during the past months. Like most, we haven’t had any visitors into our home but boy can we enjoy a good meal or drink by the bonfire with friends and family.
I’m going to run now…the texts and the e-mails are piling up while I reminisce about the months gone by.
Please be well and stay in touch. I’m great at e-mail (email@example.com) but only mediocre at returning phone calls (207) 548-6059. We’re planning on hosting our annual clean up weekend May 14-16th and will be opening the park for the summer on May 21st.
Looking forward to posting again soon,
We’ve had a couple of warm days in a row and the daffodils were at their peak this past week. Now the forsythia is fading away, the cherry and apple blossoms have popped and its starting to feel like summer. We’re eating more than our share of fiddlehead ferns and daffodil blossoms (I haven’t been able to capture a picture but imagine me trying to out smart a lamb to get the most tender plants). We’re seeing more birds than ever (even black-headed grosbeaks) and there are bird nests everywhere you look (made with a good amount of sheep’s wool and goat fluff 😊). We’re feeling the rhythm and it feels good as long as we stay away from Pandemic counts and remind ourselves that the only thing we can do to make the world a better place is to be kind, wear a mask, stay home as much as we can and wash our hands.
On the bright side of the covid coverage, have you been reading the Covid studies that support the idea that outdoor recreation and camping are two of the best activities you can plan this summer? Social distancing is easy around here and the sea breezes are conducive to our healthly choices. To amplify the opportunities, Steve and the crew have been building more benches, establishing more walking trails and planning remote picnic spots all over the park.
I keep wanting to gush that the gardens have been rewarding us with flowers … and honeybees are thrilled with life in general. They love the dandelions and can’t seem to get enough of the bridal wreath bushes…funny how the daffodils & hyacinths make us so happy but the bees will happily pass them by for the opportunity to forage in the cherry and apple blossoms that have peaked in the last day or two.
The awesome weather has made our projects a lot easier. Our wonderful sign painter Deb has been working on the billboard components all winter and they finally got back to their route 1 showcase the other day. It took 5 humans to move components and 2 humans to give them direction (“left three inches, no come back a little bit…now go up…”) Just for fun…can you guess which gender took which role? 😉
Learning to do chores while social distancing and wearing a mask has been a real challenge…we all agree that it’s important but find we need to remind each other constantly…it’s the proverbial teaching an old dog new tricks around here. We’re lucky because most of our work this time of year is out of doors and in well ventilated buildings. Last weekend Ramon took the lead on building a shelter for our new bread oven in the garden…I’m day dreaming about the casual gatherings surrounding great food, picnic tables with fluttery coverings, lots of flowers and something icy in a glass…and a few musicians under one of the shade trees! This outdoor oven is a complement to last years garden kitchen (and we’ve been talking with a FANTASTIC baker named Maria who makes some of the best blueberry pie I’ve ever tasted…about teaching cooking classes and maybe organizing a few pop up dinners by candle light). Expect more information about these plans in the coming week.
So the gardens are blooming, the reservation shuffling is well underway to meet our covid obligations, we have the most spectacular, awesome staff anyone could imaging (the Gods smiled on us with particular radiance this year), the seals are already in the Bay and we’re seeing more bird species than any of us can remember. Please stay well and stay in touch. We continue to live the reality of the pandemic and the beauty of life…and hope that you are finding the means to do the same.
Today is my birthday and I’m reminded that blessed by family, friends and beauty…Sharon surprised us with today with a picnic lunch…Three kinds of wood fired pizza from a new place just down the road: Lobster, Fiddlehead & Steak and Microgreens & Balsamic Vinegar.
We have been fielding a lot of questions lately about how summer camping at Searsport Shores may be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 viral pandemic. These are unusual times, with best-practices changing frequently as the situation plays out across the country.
We want our guests to know that we put the health and safety of our community above all else. Decisions we make on reservations and social-distancing will be made by putting health first, even if this means doing less business than we may legally be permitted to do. We are talking with folks we know who work in the Emergency and ICU departments of local hospitals, reading recommendations by the Maine and federal CDCs, and keeping on top of orders and recommendations happening across the U.S.
With that in mind, our current plans are as follows:
- Guests will be asked to wear face coverings inside all buildings and whenever they cannot social distance
- Advanced Reservations and payment will be required for all camping sites. We will only be booking stays of 4 nights or more until we are certain we can adjust for shorter stays. If you or anyone in your party is not feeling well…please visit another time.
- We’re working with chefs and farms to have great food options available in the campground. All guests will be expected to honor any current quarantine requirements established by Executive Order.
- Our beach and extensive walking trails will be open with proper social distancing. Until further notice our flush toilets, group tenting, playground, recreation hall and dog park will be closed. As we learn more, we will work to make these amenities available.
We are taking reservations for the summer. As we have said before, on June 1st we’ll say hello to guests from Maine and on July 1st we’ll be welcoming guests from out of state. However, and there’s always an however lately, if you are from out of state and you have a reservation on the books from that ancient pre-Covid era, we are working to be able to honor them…we’ll be in touch!
Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this unprecedented time. Searsport Shores Ocean Campground has provided a relaxing environment to guests since 1964. Through all those times, and now, our family’s focus has been on welcoming our guests for a time when they can refresh and recharge alongside the ocean on beautiful Penobscot Bay.
We look forward to welcoming you with a wave and a smile,
Steve and Astrig Tanguay
Just to be clear, I understand completely that the tragedy I’m about to share, doesn’t compare remotely to the pain of losing a loved one or being shut in with someone abusive for weeks on end…I know that. But I miss you all and wanted to reminisce…
Today is the first time in almost 3 decades that I haven’t gotten up on this particular Saturday to make doughnuts for friends, guests and others at the start of our Clean-Up Weekend. I thought it would be no big deal…but it is! The biggest blessing of our campground life is the people that fill it!
So I just wanted to say good morning to you all, assure you that we’re working on Corona Virus protocol (I have two draft posts in the works but this moment of self-indulgent whining took precedence over the real writing).
Tomorrow I’m making my grandmother’s buttermilk doughnuts with cinnamon sugar if you’d like to come by and get one…the oil will be hot by 9! 💕💕💕 Stay safe, stay well and visit when you can!
In case you hadn’t heard, currently we can host guests from Maine (and those who have already quarantined in Maine for 14 days) during the month of June…it’s a great time to enjoy 40 acres on the ocean almost by yourselves! According to the recommendations, we must have a reservation on the books before you drive into the park…so please call, text or e-mail first. Steve and I are around all of the time!
I don’t know about you but I’m learning a lot these days! Being told to open three weeks later than usual seemed like the ticket to rest and relaxation…not so much!
My days revolve around checking out the latest numbers every morning, tuning in to Governor Cuomo’s updates, setting the alarm for our Maine CDC briefing (huge fan of Gov. Mills and Dr Shay) and then “just a minute” of news every night before I go to sleep. I’ve learned tons about disinfectants and anti-viral chemicals. I’m happy to report that we’ve worked with a company in Denver Colorado to ship us a product that sterilizes with a fogging machine within 10 minutes, no PPE required, no odor or residue and it’s so non-toxic that a child can drink it without a worry. Am I the only one who’s amazed? When the 5 year supply is delivered next week, our sterilizing quandaries have been solved.
When KZ Recreational Vehicles heard that we were having trouble sourcing enough masks for the summer (we’re going to require masks on anyone inside a building (laundry, office, art studio etc)), they mailed us 100 N95 face masks with a request that we put them to good use…within the campground and the town of Searsport. Thank you KZ!
Steve’s been focused on the grounds…we turned the water on for the entire park yesterday (and of course it’s going to snow again on Saturday😳). The Garden Kitchen finally got its coat of interior paint this week and we’re re-working the gardens to create a prettier entrance to the kitchen because we’re anticipating offering pop-up meals this summer with some of our favorite chefs. I’ll post update pictures on all of this next week, including the expand frog pond. In between chores we’re cooking over the campfire regularly, watching a pair of bald eagles hunt on the beach every day and admiring all of the Spring bulbs that are starting to appear (while I was in Ethiopia last November, Steve planted 250 bulbs as a surprise…isn’t he awesome?)
Lucy is growing…She celebrated her one month birthday on Cinco De Mayo…we felt obligated to toast to her sustained exuberance with Tequila and blood oranges after we gave her yet another bottle of formula. We pan roasted chili peppers over the fire too…that makes a rounded meal, right?
Living in Maine has shielded us from many of the challenges and pain Covid is causing. Without minimizing the suffering in anyway, I am amazed to be living through such a pivotal point in our civilization. Just a few months ago, who could have imagined that millions of people would be ordered to shelter in place and put a full pause on their lives?
Last week I asked Facebook friends what unexpected pleasures they’ve experienced and we all seem to agree that slowing down gives us time to re-evaluate our priorities. In our corner of the world we’re seeing it manifest by people playing in their yards and walking the myriad of trails made available through land trusts and public access. Are you all aware of the Coastal Mountain Land Trusts network of trails in the mid-coast? We’ve been enjoying them more these last few weeks (especially when a trail is close to a restaurant with take out 😉)
It isn’t without irony that I share this beautiful poem. Of course we want you to visit…you enrich our world in more ways than we could count and I will be saddened if we can’t find a way to share the beauty of this little corner of the world…so let’s define “Home” as where we find nourishment rather than a physical location.
And the People Stayed Home
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. — Kitty O’Meara.
Life in the Covid-Pause…there are still so many unknowns, frustrations and questions. Steve and I are struggling to make the best possible decisions with the information we’ve gleaned from our many conversations with our CDC and HHS departments. We’re assessing our options through a lens of priorities: 1. How can we optimize and protect the health of everyone connected with Searsport Shores? 2. How can we stay financially stable until we have adequate testing and the protection of a vaccine that will allow us to return to “normal”? and 3. Where can we find balance and joy in the reality we’re currently living?
Camping is inherently a safe activity. Most of the time we’re outdoors unless we’re sleeping. RV’s offer each family their own bathroom and kitchen facilities. Social distancing isn’t a problem. We’ve decided to start our artist in residence program the last week of July when the weather is warm enough to work in the sunshine. We’ve arranged the seating at the bandstand so that we can start having our music under the stars on July 1st.
With the understanding that new information will inform and change our policies, we’ve decided to adopt the following Reservation Strategies that we believe will fit our priorities best:
(1) To allow us flexibility within the campground and to offer our guests extra space between campsites, we will only be accepting new reservations for 7 nights or more. If you already have a reservation, we will honor it. By reducing the number of guests in the park, we will be able to keep at least 50′ of breathing space between campsites.
(2) For June and July we will only be accepting self-contained RV reservations because we have decided to close down the toilet portion of our bathhouse (our outhouses and Porta-Potties will remain open). We know that studies have not been conclusive yet but there is compelling evidence that the virus can become airborne when the toilet is flushed. For our well ventilated showers, we’ll be keeping the doors locked. There will be a key system and with the key we’ll give you a bottle of disinfectant that campers can use before and after the showers. Our laundry facilities will be accessible. We’re becoming experts on foggers and expect to shut the building down regularly and treat the entire building with a kill Covid mist. We will be taking our cues from the CDC and modifying our policies throughout the summer.
(3) We are in the process of building an outdoor kiosk for check-in when you arrive…and will provide an e-mail check in form to your telephone rather than share a pen. We are requesting that all advanced reservations be paid by check so that payment is unnecessary at check in. For those who wish to pre-pay for firewood, we can calculate that into your camping fees when we make the reservation.
(4) YEAH! We’re extending our off season rates for non-oceanfront campsites through June 30!! June 1- June 30 Rate Chart for a bronze campsite (30 amp/water/1 free pump out) week: $368 BONUS, for stays of ten or more nights we will pump out your holding tanks twice each week at no additional cost. two week: $737 month: $1638. season: $4700. Upgrades are available at additional costs.
We promise to stay in touch and look forward to hearing from you. My next task is to try and figure out how to do a mass-mailing so watch your e-mail box in case I’m successful. In the meantime, stay well, stay safe and by all means,
In Searsport, life is pretty much “normal” in our campground centric world. Steve’s outside re-designing the gardens to make the entrance to the garden kitchen more attractive, Mike & Wayne are building picnic tables & benches, Julie & Kent (one of two new couples who will be helping us this summer) are cleaning and organizing the office/rec hall while they quarantine for 14 days, Deb is painting signs and I’m in the house tending to reservations, Makers Guild of Maine “stuff” and summer programs. While I blinked the crocuses came up but we’re still a long way away from daffodils and forsythias.
We expect to hear more about when and how we will be permitted to open but for the moment we’re thinking that we’ll host self contained campers by Memorial Day. We’ll keep the bathhouse closed in the beginning and do all of our check in/check outs from the porch. We’ll have plenty of space to stagger campers throughout the park so distance shouldn’t be an issue…and goodness knows we have plenty of places to explore in the region that are remote enough to avoid anyones exhalations. We’ll follow CDC guidelines about masks and disinfecting.
In Official news, we’ve had information on seasonal camping and reservations procedures.
All in all, the wildly fluctuating weather is creating a lot of extra work and the virus has shaken our foundations…our hearts are with those who are feeling the impact more immediately than we are and our faith in humanity is hitting the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We can still count on the tides, the curiosity of a lamb, the nourishment of a home cooked meal and anticipation we feel at the beginning of every camping season…be well and please stay in touch,
Astrig & Steve