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.
December always seems to be a blur because of holiday decorations, parties and the inevitable bumpy shifting of gears from closing the campground to being closed. By the second week of January we’re rested, filled with happy memories and fueled to begin planning for the summer season to come…impatiently caught between enjoying our icy imprisonment (the road into the campground thawed from its slick icy state just last night) and projecting our thoughts towards the camping, gardening and arts that will fill the summer months.
In our “Ice Prison” as friend Anna calls it, I’ve been spinning, weaving, sewing and simmering in the pleasure of making things to eat, wear and cosset the house in our ever changing vision of what is “perfect”…(yes my friends, Pintrest and I spend a lot of time together 😉 Steven has been playing with his mandolin more and has tackled woodworking projects we’ve been thinking about for years (and resulted in a gorgeous dining table that expands to seat 18 + a floor to ceiling bookshelf that finally contains all of my books and project boxes). We try to get outside everyday for a ski, snow shoe or slog through the mud as the conditions permit…and then there are the series to catch up on: Downton Abbey- check, Parks and Rec.- check, Better Off Ted-check.
Looking towards summer we’ve mapped out a plan on a large white board that functions as a mind dump for all of the plans we’re making. The brilliance of a white board is that it acts like a reality check: exactly how many kayak trips, special events, group projects and adventures have we listed? Right now I’m working on our 2014 Artist in Residence schedule (we have 3 weeks still open if you’re thinking of applying), launching Fiber College and submitting our calendar of events to the myriad of websites and booklets that target tourists during the summer. Steve’s re-vamping the website with more recent photos, getting us sorted out with YouTube, preparing this summer’s camp wood and ordering seeds for the garden.
While all of this is going on we’re answering e-mails and phone calls, taking reservations and posting the deposits. Last year was a great year for us (definition: busily filled with people we really like, who really liked being here AND paid our bills); This year is looking more promising. Weather is always the wild card but because the majority of our guests seem to be of the “bring it on” mentality, Maine’s temperamental climate doesn’t concern us as much as it does some of our fellow campgrounds. There’s so much to do within an hour’s drive of the park + the beauty of the beach during “inclement times” multiplied by the comfort of the rec hall (didn’t that new heated porch make a difference last year !?!) and the art studio, we seem to have found the answer to vacationing in Maine…come with the intention of enjoying whatever it brings…because it’s all beautiful!
Speaking of beautiful, a family from Kentucky visited last July and stayed on the second row. I got these photos in my e-mail yesterday and wanted to share Sarah’s vision of the campground with you while we watch the eve’s drip from the window here in Searsport. While we always think of the ocean as being the biggest draw to the park, it’s interesting to see that Sarah appreciated the gardens and the goats more. Thank you Sarah for sharing!
P.S. With these photos, the note read…”I
want you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed myself on our vacation at your
campground and in Maine. After we left your campground we headed down to
Old Orchard Beach. There were so many tourists and the beach was
crowded and in my opinion, not that clean. The only thing I found
pleasant was some of the good food we discovered in Portland. If we ever
make it back up that way (and I certainly hope we do) our destination will be
definitely be farther north where you are located. The scenery and the
people were something that I will never forget and we will long to visit
again. Thank you for opening up your property to us and making us feel at
The bride was beautiful, the weather was perfect and the groom was a magical prince who made everything memorable with his charm. A wedding on a campground beach is a casual affair that lends its own flavor…irreplicable in a traditional setting.
An early Summer Day at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground. The fresh water stream runs through the middle of the 40 acres…flowing into Penobscot Bay and providing unlimited opportunities to play, splash and hunt for eels and newts. If life is about the moments you remember, what are your plans for this summer?