April melted into a memory quicker than it ever should. May is following along the same path. We haven’t suffered the dramatic weather that we’ve seen in other parts of the country but I think in 45 days, we’ve had 6 without rain. Cold, gloomy and punishing if you want to get outdoor chores accomplished. A perfect excuse to work in front of the computer and play in the studio if that’s your inclination. Yup, I’ve been more happy than I probably should be considering how much work needs to get done before we open.
Rather than list off our chores, here’s a bit of a photo essay of our days:
What’s the best way to celebrate the summer on the Maine coast? With butter dripping down your chin and wood smoke drifting through the air as the seafood steams in its bed of freshly harvested seaweed. Add a layer of scent coming from the homemade bread hot out of the oven and brought directly to your table. Oh, and don’t forget the boiled Maine corn on the cob and roasted onions that are so sweet you could save them for dessert…but you won’t because I’ll be making you a fresh, seasonal dessert…maybe strawberry shortcake when the strawberries are still warm from the gardens (the ones by the goat house) with freshly whipped heavy cream or maybe a chocolate lava cake…always with Gifford’s Ice Cream made close by in Skowhegan.
Saturday nights in July and August, Steven and JT start the fires early in the afternoon and start cooking after Dad gets the seafood from the local fishermen. We limit the number of dinners we serve to 40 people and we guarantee that you’ll leave completely satisfied…but reserve your tickets ahead of time because the dinners are often sold out the week before it’s time to sit down.
Dinners are $54/person and when you order you can specify that you’d prefer lobster or a hand cut steak. There’s a $18 option for those who want to participate but because of size of appetite or taste preferences, would prefer to have all beef hot-dogs instead of lobster and enjoy all the other trimmings.
Because of the way we serve dinner, everyone coming down to the festivities must have a ticket and we don’t have a way for you to share dinners. If you have children who only eat PB & J, bring a picnic blanket to tuck near the kayaks and they can have a picnic under your watchful eye while you enjoy dinner.
We’ll take care of everything…you only need to think about bringing a bottle of wine or beverage of your choice if you’d like something other than our strawberry lemonade.
Fresh from Penobscot Bay
1 1/2 pound Maine Lobster or a man size hand cut steak
Locally harvested Blue Mussels
Maine Grown Roasted Corn and yellow potatoes
Melt in your mouth New England style sweet onions
Lots of real butter
Homemade Seasonal Dessert and Maine made ice cream
Strawberry Lemonade and Hot Coffee…you bring the drinks of your choice.
It’s been a beautifully warm and dry spring. In the past couple of weeks we’ve hosted many more guests than we usually see before Memorial Day Weekend. Some years I cringe at the thought of sharing our muddy roads and cold fog with people who have traveled so far to be with us; but this year, the flowers are huge, the grounds are ahead of schedule (thanks to the weather and the crew’s hard work) and the sun has been kind.
When the ocean is sparkling, it’s easy to feel like we’re living in a magical place, and our tagline “tidepools, gardens, goats and honeybees” takes on a life of its own. We plant with the intention of feeding ourselves, growing herbs for flavor and healing, making things pretty and nourishing the soil.
There is a seemingly effortless quality in how our grounds flourish in the everchanging combination of groomed gardens and controlled wild spaces. Really, the gardens are a result of carefully feeding the soil with sea weed, compost and worm castings and the hard work of our dedicated team who spend the summer making the park better… and choosing plants that thrive in our environment. We find our plants most often the local fire department and garden club plant sales and from our friends at nurseries who grow plants from seed and propagation…we don’t get our plants from the big box stores.
Yesterday Sue Riley asked me what the gardens were looking like this week and in particular, the state of the lupines. I don’t need a big excuse to abandon the office and the computer to take pictures of our world…so take a walk with me, the plants would love to meet you…
It’s hard to believe Memorial Day weekend is upon us…if we won’t have the pleasure of your company, we hope that you’re surrounded by friends and family. If we are lucky enough to have you share our world…make certain you find time to wander through the gardens. If you’d like us to draw you a mapped trail of some of our favorite plant nurseries (including stops for lunch and cocktails) don’t hesitate to ask.
Now’s the time when the reservations start flooding our world…the sun is shining, the tents and RV’s are begging to be opened up and aired out. In the Spring, most of my morning and evening work hours are spent in front of the computer, answering e-mails, returning phone calls and booking sites.
This is my 23rd summer of this responsibility and I take it as seriously now as I did before I had grey hair and needed glasses. About two thirds of our guests are either returning campers or have been referred by friends and family. These folks usually fall into two categories: they either love us and feel like any site in the park would be fine because they know that to the best of our ability all the sites are level, spacious and comfortable OR they have very specific sites in mind and are willing to plan their vacation dates around the availability of those sites. These are easy bookings because there is a lot of confidence on both of our parts.
The other third of our guests will be staying with us for the first time. Like any new relationship, there can be trust issues on both ends of the telephone. In a perfect world, people will trust me to choose a campsite to the best of my ability based on their vacation dates, site availability and their use of abundant adjectives for ideal site descriptions. There is a certain amount of compromise required if the only goals are “privacy, oceanfront, July and weekend”…but with a little wiggle room I can usually find something nice. First, I understand how important this getaway is…when Steven and I travel it’s fiercely important to us too that our time/money is spent as well as possible. Second, almost 100% of our guests understand the atmosphere we offer and want to be part of THIS world, so consideration and friendliness are the norm and not the exception…it’s good to know that your neighbors are wonderful too. Finally, we don’t try to fill all the sites in the park so when you get here, we’re happy to show you the site we’ve chosen and then offer up any other available campsite.
As I write this, I realize that maybe another good article would be about the difference between campsites and the reason behind some of our policies…stay tuned, because I’ll ponder this while I work in the garden and get back to you. This would be a great time to comment with questions I should address in the next posting. In the meantime, I’ve started a collection of photos of specific campsites that should help first time visitors envision our sites. and a request…if you’ve stayed with us before and have some great pictures of you and your family on a campsite…could I have copies please? you could either e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or put them on Facebook. I get so wrapped up in the summer, I forget to get outside and take pictures.
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:
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.
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?
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.
Becoming a fiber artist was one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life! My circle of friends has grown to include people from across the state of Maine and beyond. I never dreamed that life could be so good! When I began walking down this path, I was imbedded in a corporate life, where I knew that if I continued, all I’d ever make in life would be money. My hands (and heart) were itching to create! I’d dabbled in alot of art forms, such as stained glass, pottery and the softer handcrafts like embroidery and sewing. But when I discovered fiber at a great little shop called Portfiber, my world exploded like the Fourth of July fireworks. Being a discontented city dweller, the road to my country life lead me to brilliant colors (that I had never seen before!) and shapes and designs that I never knew existed.
Today I live deliberately and spend my days immersed in my feltwork. Felting is a magical process that leads to all kinds of wonderful results. When people ask what I do, the best explanation that can give them is “I paint with wool”. And one of the most magical things about it is…….anyone can do it! When I am teaching, my students begin the class doubting that they can create a “wool painting” or a cute whimsical 3D figure, but by the time we finish our project, they are amazed with the results.
On August 23rd, I will be at the “Shores” for a wonderful fiber filled week of felting fun. For those families who will be camping that week, we will be making dragons and wizards, frogs, turtles, owls, sheep, hedgehogs and we’ll even make ducks in ponds, just to name a few of the projects that you can choose from! And all from wool!! I will teach you the very easy and satisfying art of needle felting or wet felting, whichever appeals more to you. Or perhaps you’d like to learn both. The choice is yours. Kids will love creating animals that can made in under an hour. For the adults, you may choose to make a wall hanging to bring home with you. Or perhaps you’d like to make felted beads to create a necklace or earrings. Wearable art is unique and can be made by anyone, even children! It will be a wonderful opportunity for families to spend quality time together while creating fun projects that everyone will enjoy.
One of the best things about felting for me is knowing that the possibilities are simply ENDLESS. It’s like a mountain with no top! My list of possible projects grows longer and longer each day and for the first time in my life, that’s a wonderful feeling! I hope it never ends……….
I can’t wait to meet you at the “Shores”. I will be there beginning August 23rd, for a week.
You might think you’re seeing double when the Ober sisters come to Camp and Create! Susan Ober is a quilter from West Haven, Connecticut. Her identical twin sister Nancy “Seasi” Ober is a potter from Kansas City, Mo. Susan’s primary art form is quilts, She has made around 100 to date; Seasi has been throwing pottery for over 30 years, and they both enjoy gardening.
Susan makes her living as a Registered Nurse but remembers her first job as a “field girl” on a vegetable farm when she was 16 yeas old. She drove the tractor and helped out at the farm stand but her favorite part of the job was picking strawberries! Susan began sewing at a young age as well, she has been seriously quilting for 15 years. It’s theraputic to play with color and texture, and she loves seeing how pieces fit together like a big fabric puzzle. When she’s not at the sewing machine you can find Susan at her plot in the community garden coaxing beautiful flowers and vegetables from the soil and sharing with her freinds.
Seasi left for the Mid-West in the 1970’s and never looked back. She attended college in Kansas and received a degree in Art then started her own gardening business which she ran for 20 years. Seasi then headed back to college to receive her Master’s in Education. She teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) Her pottery is utilitarian bowls, cups and vases that she sell at area fairs.
As Artists-in-Residence “The Twins” will explore what’s growing in the garden at Searsport Shores and guide campers through a wide variety of activities.