We’ve been enjoying a bit of a thaw over the last 10 days. February is when we start feeling like Winter’s slipping away so there’s an interesting tug between celebrating the cold weather by reading books, making hygge meals and spending time in the studio…and yearning for Spring by planning the gardens, solidifying Summer plans and figuring out the details for some of our building projects that will be starting up as soon as the cold breaks.
When the sun is warmest, we try to spend a couple of hours outside each day. Usually that involves skiing and snowshoeing but because the mid-west has taken more than its fair share of snow this year, we’re reduced to hiking and slipping on ice. I’ll do a grander post on exploring by foot in the future but for now, if you’d like to do some virtual hiking, these three sites have some terrific maps and descriptions of walks in our area: try Coastal Mountain Landtrust, One Minute Hikes with Aislyn from the Bangor Daily News and AllTrails.com (type Belfast into the search bar).
Gardens are a serious part of our world here at the Campground…it seems that we talk, plan, plant and harvest them 12 months a year. In the Fall, Steve buries all of the beds in a thick layer of seaweed (it decomposes by Spring and gives us incredible soil). Now is when our mailbox is stuffed with catalogues and we start the surprisingly contentious conversations about what we’re going to plant…it’s always a tug between ordering what we know and already love and something new that sounds incredible. Our goals for the garden are always the same…beauty, food for humans, birds, animals and insects, a bit of novelty and a whisper of whimsy…my I’m feeling poetic.
February feels short because we’re on the road a lot…mostly within the boundaries of Maine and it seems as though every trip is the harbinger of a snow storm. Fiber College and the Music Weekends bring a lot of talent together from some pretty hidden corners of Maine. For us, connectivity is more often a hug and a bowl of soup with the artists who will be down to the Coast in September.
When the lines are offering slow speed or no internet and cell phones only work if you’re standing in the corner of a bedroom that faces East, it’s easier and certainly more fun to sit together and work out the details of all of our projects. By the end of this month we expect to have the entire summer’s Artist in Residence schedule in place (expanded and exciting I might add) and the September schedule well underway.
Thursday we head to Millinocket, Saturday we’re taking the Love Train from Unity to Thorndike (doesn’t that sound just too cool?) and next week we’ll be in Cushing, Friendship and Rockland…I’ll take pictures to share!
Bye for now,
Astrig & Steve
Hi friends, it’s really been a long time since I wrote and I apologize. First resolution of the New Year: (ok, second if you count my promise to eat less sugar) I will settle back into the pleasure of blogging more often…it should be easy because it’s been a brutally icy winter so far and my knees are getting sore from falling down on the ice. Technology keeps making things easier too and I’m going to use my phone to stay better in touch. You’ll be the judge of my success.
For the pleasure of a good recap~ last fall, we hosted the Fiber College, Bluegrass Jam Camp and the Old Time Music Campout in September. For our small campground, that’s a lot of events when 1/2 of our help has gone back to their real lives. The upside to the extra work of hosting is the energy we gain from being surrounded by so many fantastic people…and we’ve begun the work to plan for 2019.
As September was winding down we harvested everything from the gardens (at the time I grumbled under my breath about being too tired, now I do a little Martha Stewart dance every time I pull out the green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and squash from the freezer). When the garden was put to bed, I sheared our little flock with Jessie’s help and Steve supervised putting in a new septic system for the dump station. We’re particularly proud of the new system because a) it was a major financial investment that our past summer successes allowed us to achieve and b) we chose a Japanese system that while more costly, ends in a water outflow that is as pure as rain water…very important to our coastal environment.
And then it was time for our vacation! Steven, Dad and I went to Mexico for Mariachi music, margaritas and fantastic food…and we got so much more! We traveled by plane, bus, car, ATV and boat while we explored St. Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara and the fishing village of Yelapa. People were incredibly kind and friendly, we ate the very best food and spent time with artisans who were making a living with a craft. Between the colors, flavors and smiles, we came back energized, relaxed and ready to go back soon. Really, I love our Maine home but everyone should visit our friends on the South side because the Mexican spirit is magical.
We got back just before Christmas to a mountain of holiday cards and more mundane correspondence. We cut a tree in the woods across the street, piled our cards on all of the branches and called it good while we lit a candle and made apple cider bourbon drinks (we pressed apples in October, fermenting just enough to get us through these cold months). We have some of the best guests in the world…in between the lovely greeting cards there was a jar of dried bolete mushrooms from Henry and Olga, a bottle of dessert wine from Linda’s New York State winery and a calendar filled with images from Jim’s vacation here at the campground!
As we slide towards the end of January (literally because of all the ice that has built up on the trails and roads in the park) we’ve been spending more time in the workshops and in front of the computer. Steve’s been reworking the parts of the website we never get to and I designed new rack cards for both the campground and Fiber College. It’s absolutely true that there’s no separation between our lives and our work…we’re making plans for all of the things we want to accomplish this year, fully knowing that we won’t tick everything off but we’ve found that doing a regular “brain dump” helps us sleep at night. We’re also taking time for projects…for me that looks like weaving, knitting and sewing, for Steve it’s woodworking, music and maintenance. The two of us love to cook so while Steve’s perfecting his ciabatta recipe, I’ve vowed to try two new soups every week.
And that’s our life in a nutshell.
Be well, Astrig
There’s almost no better way to go out and enjoy the ocean than to go kayaking. To feel the wind and the waves while paddling along the coastline is an incredible experience. Here at Searsport shores we have both Tandem and Single Kayaks, and there’s so much to explore with them!
If you go right from the campground you can paddle to Moose Point State Park. Many people choose to stop here and eat lunch, hike a little, or bring the kids to the playground. It’s a great place to enjoy our natural world and to rest from your paddling.
A little farther past the park, you can see some awesome rock faces overhanging the water’s edge, surrounded by seafoam from the ocean waves. This was one of my favorite parts of kayaking; I was even greeted by a loon!
To the left of the campground you can head into the town of Searsport. You can stop to walk around the town, maybe get a bite to eat, and then head back out into the kayaks. For the more experienced kayakers, you can head to Sears Island for the day and paddle around the island.
The bay offers a unique ocean kayaking experience, and the waves generally do not pick up until late in the afternoon, so even the most inexperienced kayakers can go out in the morning and have a great time. Next time you visit us make sure you try out the kayaks!
Last week at the shores we had some unexpected guests! A swarm of wild honeybees began to make a hive in our garden. We’re unsure as to where these guys came from, but it’s most likely that they escaped from a domesticated hive nearby. Steve, the bee expert, was able to coax them into one of our hives and they seem to like their new home.
Honey bees are generally harmless, unlike their cousin the wasp, and would rather drink some sweet nectar than bother anyone.
Pollinators, such as the honeybee, are extremely important to what we do at Searsport shores. Our beautiful gardens would be desolate without our little black and yellow friends.
Not only do honey bees play an important role in our vegetable production, but they also help pollinate plants that produce food for numerous species of birds and mammals. Without honeybees we lose a lot of wildlife that makes this campground so special. Unfortunately, the bee population has been declining rapidly due to the widespread use of pesticides. We at Searsport Shores have been doing our part to fight this issue by cultivating multiple bee hives and by planting organic, pesticide free gardens.
Since arriving at the campground in late May, Sears Island is quickly becoming one of my favorite places. Accessible by only one road, and completely uninhabited it is a great place to spend the day.
The island is full of hiking trails, biking trails, and even trails for horseback riding. One of my first days here was spent biking the length of the island. As you peddle through the island you are rewarded by the almost candle-like scent of the trees and the unique island ecology.
Besides all of the hiking trails on the island, the entire perimeter of the island walkable during low tide. On another one of my days off I set out hike around the island and it was so worth it. The island is simply breathtaking, and there are many unique rock faces that you wouldn’t even know about unless you hike around the back side.
If I had to describe my time on Sears Island in one word, it would be peaceful. Walking along the beach, looking at driftwood, shells, and sea glass. No sounds except the lapping of the water and the occasional bark of a distant dog. I would recommend that anyone who has a free day to check out the island!
Hello! I’m Nate and I’m spending the summer here at Searsport Shores. One of the first nature based projects I have worked on is our very own hummingbird garden. Hummingbirds are the smallest species of bird in the world, being shorter than 4 inches and weighing less than 4 grams. Don’t let their size fool you; they are an integral part of Maine’s ecosystem. These little guys are expert pollinators and play a big role in the success of gardens and wild plants.
Besides the environmental benefit of hummingbirds, they are entertaining to watch and come in bright and vibrant colors. The hummingbirds that we are most likely to attract are Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Although other hummingbird species have been rarely spotted in Maine, the Ruby Throated hummingbird is our most common species. They are most easily identified by their bright red throats and their green tinted bodies.
In order to know how to attract hummingbirds, I had to do a little research. From browsing online I made several discoveries about hummingbirds: they love to live around the edge of the forest, they need a nearby food source, and they are attracted to the color red. We set up our hummingbird area in a lightly forested space across from the gardens. Our gardens are full of flowers that hummingbirds love.
Three hummingbird feeders were strategically placed in our hummingbird paradise to attract as many as we can. The area was completed with the tying of red ribbons everywhere we could fit them, in the hopes that our little friends will catch a glimpse while they fly by.
If you’re looking to make your own backyard Hummingbird garden, check out this article by the National Audubon Society. https://www.audubon.org/content/designing-hummingbird-garden-15-ways-keep-them-coming
So much about camping is subjective. On the reservation desk we answer questions all of the time but no matter how hard we try, there are no definitive response. When we’re asked questions like: are the sites big? are there a lot of children? are there barking dogs? is there privacy?, we hesitate and discuss among ourselves.
First of all, asking a 100 questions before you make a reservation is one of the best things you can do for both of us. We’re always happy to receive lists of questions by e-mail if they reflect a bit of the time you’ve spent looking at the website and thinking about what you’re looking for in your vacation experience. But in the end, there are few simple answers because it all depends on where you’re used to camping, and the kind of attitude you and your companions have while you’re vacationing.
Here on the ocean, real estate is prime and expensive. Our sites are closer together than inland parks. That’s just the way it is. BUT, if you’re used to camping in places where you have to choose between your slide outs and your awning, then our sites are AMAZING! Privacy? Well the trees don’t grow densely at the ocean…we have lots of mature trees on the grounds, so yes, we have many shaded sites…but there isn’t much in the way of scrubby bushes and privacy screening.
Living the adage that a picture is worth a 1000’s words, we just walked around and snapped pictures of a few of the oceanfront RV sites this evening…you decide for yourself.
Next week we’ll post some pictures of our inland lots.
Hello! I’m Nate and I’m an intern at Searsport Shores this summer, living in the ocean tenting part of the park. For the past few weeks I have been working on a tiny house to live in. As you can see, this shed was pretty bare bones at first, but I was able to fashion it into a nice little living space.
Putting a couple of the windows on hinges was one of the first things I did, because if you’re going to live by the ocean, you’d better be able to smell that refreshing sea air. A house isn’t really a house without a bed, so the bed was the next thing I set out to build. With the assistance of Mike and Steve, I was able to put in a twin bed, shelving, and a table with room to spare!
I also added some stained paneling to the back wall just to make it look a little fancier, which I think paid off. The final product is exactly how I envisioned it, a compact yet comfortable space with a beautiful view.
It’s definitely an upgrade from my tent and I look forward to living in it this summer!
I’m new here to Searsport Shores and it was a wonderful greeting. Driving in, my phone’s GSP somehow switched off but before I even realized it, the handpainted (!!!) billboard came into view. When I go into a campground, my eyes instantly become my grandfather’s. Would he be able to easily navigate the big rig around the corner? Yes! It’s a large driveway off a wide shoulder. We’d all appreciate the smooth sailing.
Art gifts are the best gifts (a piece of artwork gifted to the studio)
After that thought, I see the space. A sign indicated the first path is group tenting. Could you imagine getting everyone together here? Because the air smells like the sea, everything is green and lush and in every nook and cranny there’s art and beautiful things to be seen.
Windchimes, metal-working art pieces, murals, colorful flowers, alluring walkways, magic tiny cabins, porch chairs, tomato plants; all the things I love.
Sun speckled stairway to the sea
When exploring the grounds, I let my feet lead the way. The animals and gardens were the first thing to catch my attention naturally. Steve told me the fiber goats & sheep are shorn twice per year. After meeting Norma tending the vegetable and herb gardens, I headed to the water! Down a shaded set of steps, I find a secluded beach with an expansive view… More on that later.
Traveling full circle around the space, I noticed large pull-through sites perfect for my folks preferences, oceanside tent camping that looked so dreamy to me, and each site with a personality all its own.
What a wonderful afternoon it was. I could get lost in that art studio. It’s truly a haven which pictures compliment but can’t explain the cool floor on my bare feet, the room piled with yarn, colorful threads, and magic art pieces.
Loom the rainbow!
Stacks of logs for the pizza oven!
I wonder about all the artists who’ve stayed in this space. You can’t even imagine the space for artists in residency! It’s truly remarkable and gave me this overwhelming feeling that I want to learn and create. It seems it did it’s job.
I’ll be back soon and I hope you are also enjoying this beautiful sunny day!
We’re approaching the solstice, feeling the pressure of getting more done in a day than we have the energy or focus for…Maybe I don’t have the right to speak for “all of us” but I think you could listen in on most conversations at the coop and hear the same words.
I love this month’s darkness because it nudges me into my best creative brainstorming. The questions on the edges of my mind have been finding balance between social media contacts and face to face contacts…and how to manage a good balance between time with people and time alone completely engrossed in projects that feed my soul. All of this goes on within the schedule of doing campground and maker’s guild each day to keep the business moving forward in balance with studio time.
More and more, my phone tracks my days by making a visual recording that I can look back on when I can’t remember what I did this week. I’ve become dependent on the device in my pocket…like having an external hard drive for my memory…how cool is that? So my friends, this is what we’ve been up to these days…
Happy Chanukah and enjoy the solstice…we’re getting ready for the family to arrive for Christmas through the New Year and we still need to find our ornaments. We were going to put up a tree today but the forecasted high is 15 degrees so maybe we’ll wait a little while longer to go out and make the cut.