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

astrig

Until next time…

Choosing a campsite

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.

RV104

RV43

 

RV1and2This 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.

swingsite

RV155

RV90

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.

RV43

RV13

OT16

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 relax@campocean.com or put them on Facebook.  I get so wrapped up in the summer, I forget to get outside and take pictures.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

RV11Gold3

Fall Projects

In my mind I was going to create one of those catchy slide shows…you know, the ones that click through 100 amazing photos in 2.5 minutes accompanied by some up-beat music…that’s why it’s been so long since the last posting. But the weather has been spectacular and I’ve found a thousand reasons not to be in the office doing computer chores…so here are a few of the photos that may some day make it into the snappy slide show…

Our last two weeks in snips:

This Fall's honey harvest was bountiful...and the honey tastes of apple blossoms.  It's going to be a sweet winter!
This Fall’s honey harvest was bountiful…and the honey tastes of apple blossoms. It’s going to be a sweet winter!
Tray after tray of honey cells...interestingly the color of the honey is the same color I get when we dye our wool with oregano plants.
Tray after tray of honey cells…interestingly the color of the honey is the same color I get when we dye our wool with oregano plants.

I spent Columbus Day Weekend on Deer Isle at the Haystack School of Crafts. The program is open by lottery and I won a slot in the Blacksmithing class…it was SO MUCH fun…exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I loved the molten metal and being surrounded by all of the artistic souls…the hammering was seriously hard work. Steven stayed home and kept the campground running smoothly…how lucky am I?

Arriving at Haystack on Friday afternoon...3 days of learning the art of blacksmithing for Astrig...heaven.
Arriving at Haystack on Friday afternoon…3 days of learning the art of blacksmithing for Astrig…heaven.
My principal project was a door handle shaped like a honey bee for the pizza oven Steve is building at the studio.  Doug Wilson was a fantastic teacher...that's me with the acetylene torch (just a few days ago I didn't know what acetylene was)
I wanted to make a door handle for the new pizza oven…a honey bee of course. Doug was a fantastic teacher…that’s me with the acetylene torch to make the coil for the bee’s body. (just a few days ago I didn’t know what acetylene was)
I wanted to make a door handle for the new pizza oven...a honey bee of course.  This is Jeff Towe of Mount Desert Island.  He was the Blacksmith's assistant...a full artist in his own right and such a wonderful teacher...he guided me through the bee...and did the heavy pounding so that I wouldn't feel bad.
This is Jeff Towe of Mount Desert Island. He was the Blacksmith’s assistant…a full artist in his own right and such a wonderful teacher…he guided me through the bee…and did the heavy pounding so that I wouldn’t feel bad.
Hanging out...gorgeous
Hanging out
Steven started the pizza oven at the art studio...he's using clay from the property.
Steven started the pizza oven at the art studio with Mike and Larry on Columbus Day Weekend using blue clay from the property
Getting taller...
Getting taller…
Today's the day we harvest the wool
We’ve harvested all the fall wool…pounds and pounds of mohair for winter spinning projects
Betsy helped me shear Trevor...as she scratches his ears I clip.  It takes a real sheep shearer about 8 minutes to clean an animal...we took about 4 hours to get the job done but can report happily that we didn't draw blood
Betsy helped shear Trevor…while she scratches his ears I clip. It takes a real sheep shearer about 8 minutes to clean an animal…we took about 4 hours to get the job done but can report happily that we didn’t draw blood
The foggy morning and Maggie's going to get a haircut.
We saved Maggie for last…this is her first haircut since she came into our living room last March…click the link below to see her first video

https://searsportshores.com/2013/03/13/little-maggie-the-lamb-first-week-at-searsport-shores-campground-pt-1/

Steve's hand was steady and Maggie was as compliant as an angel
Steve’s hand was steady and Maggie was as compliant as an angel
Maggie munching broccoli after her hair cut
The new Maggie munching broccoli caption][caption id="attachment_3926" align="alignnone" width="361"]Working the dye pot...the objective was to match the colors of the dahlias in the dye garden...mission achieved! As soon as the wool was washed I start working the dye pot…the objective was to match the colors of the dahlias in the dye garden…mission achieved!
Taking time for a hike.  Late this summer we acquired 100+ acres across the street and have plans to develop hiking and biking trails for all of us to enjoy
Plans for the winter? Late this summer we acquired 100+ acres across the street and intend to develop hiking and biking trails for all of us to enjoy

Winter Greens are looking promising

Winter Greens are looking promising

It’s as blustery and gray as a day can be in Maine…a reminder of what things will be like in a couple of weeks. Luckily our salad greens are ready to hoop and the kale, mustard and swiss chard promise to carry us towards Christmas. We’ve been pulling plants and piling seaweed onto the raised beds that will stay dormant through the winter…tomorrow the goats get their Fall shearing…mohair for everyone!

They came, they saw and they accomplished…Clean Up Weekend 2013

Clean up weekend is a reminder that Community builds dreams. Every week people who see the campground for the first time tell me that they’re blown away by the creativity and the gardens…the general atmosphere in the park.  I think it’s the residual energy of past guests that they’re feeling.  This past weekend really brought that belief home.   This is a hard post to write because the gratitude in our hearts feels too big to put into words… so let me share photos of all that was accomplished and you’ll have to imagine the fabulous pot luck supper on Saturday night where we all felt as though we were a part of something that is bigger than just a mom and pop campground.

Al & Gary building a deck for site #11
Al & Gary building a deck for site #11
Among other things Laurie and family kept the bonfire buring with the brush from winter debris
Among other things Laurie and family kept the bonfire buring with the brush from winter debris
Every fall the oaks dump piles of leaves that need to be cleaned up each Spring.  Thank You Abbey, Haley, Rose, Greta, Greg & Dawn
Every fall the oaks dump piles of leaves that need to be cleaned up each Spring. Thank You Abbey, Haley, Rose, Greta, Greg & Dawn
Cleaning up the Lobsterbake Area
Cleaning up the Lobsterbake Area
Steve Hoage...master leaf blower!
Steve Hoage…master leaf blower!
Just watching the work getting done
Just watching the work getting done
So many leaves!
So many leaves!
We thank Carol for her decorating skills...sewing and designing the store displays
We thank Carol for her decorating skills…sewing and designing the store displays
Roxanne is a painting diva
Roxanne is a painting diva
Diane got called in a hundred directions
Diane got called in a hundred directions
Everything is freshly painted and cleaned for the new season...we turn on the water and there's a fountain coming out of the wall...Thank you Mark and Gary and Gary for having plumbing skills to share
Everything is freshly painted and cleaned for the new season…we turn on the water and there’s a fountain coming out of the wall…Thank you Mark and Dave and Gary for having plumbing skills to share
The bathhouse now has a new front door!  Thank you Steve, Steve and Mike
The bathhouse now has a new front door! Thank you Steve, Steve and Mike
Fred crawled into the Mermaid house and painted the interior bright and new...hope that your back has unfolded Fred.
Fred crawled into the Mermaid house and painted the interior bright and new…hope that your back has unfolded Fred.
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New deck for site 11…thank you Steve & Al for leading the project
Roxanne & Linda sanitized all the children's toys
Roxanne & Linda sanitized all the children’s toys
Ask Mary how the painting was endless
Ask Mary how the painting was endless
Fred & Anita catching their breath after a busy day
Fred & Anita catching their breath after a busy day
Bob, making aquaintences
What better way to start a work weekend than with wine, beer, cheese + crackers?
Hank and Astrig make an awesome team in donut production
Hank and Astrig make an awesome team in donut production
Rhonda and Deb tackled the infamous "green shed" with courage...we'll try to keep in neat now.
Rhonda and Deb tackled the infamous “green shed” with courage…we’ll try to keep in neat now.
Just sorting the stuff makes my head spin
Just sorting the stuff makes my head spin
Is Anita getting overwhelmed by books and puzzles?
Is Anita getting overwhelmed by books and puzzles?
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Linda, Jenn, Hannah and the Girl Scouts worked tirelessly in the wet gardens
Hank & Rich re-built the kayak stands
Hank & Rich re-built the kayak stands
Jenn & Thomas pulled cat o'nine tails from the frog pond...Thomas did a frog inventory
Jenn & Thomas pulled cat o’nine tails from the frog pond…Thomas did a frog inventory
Many hands built the platforms for the interns' new cabins
Many hands built the platforms for the interns’ new cabins
Glenn made short work of a dead tree in the group tenting area
Glenn & Darcey made short work of a dead tree in the group tenting area
100's of seedlings were transplanted by the Searsport Girl Scout's group
100’s of seedlings were transplanted by the Searsport Girl Scout’s group
Searsport Girl Scouts made certain that all of the toys were clean and in good working order
Searsport Girl Scouts made certain that all of the toys were clean and in good working order
And then the commercial stove wouldn't work...thank you Steve, Larry and Steve for trying so hard
And then the commercial stove wouldn’t work…thank you Steve, Larry and Steve for trying so hard
Larry and Bob cooked a great BBQ lunch for the hungry crowd
Larry and Bob cooked a great BBQ lunch for the hungry crowd
Mary & Linda transformed the Children's Play loft into a pirate ship...it's fantastic
Mary & Linda transformed the Children’s Play loft into a pirate ship…it’s fantastic
Becka gives the outhouse a coat of fresh paint
Becka gives the outhouse a coat of fresh paint
Becka's husband "Bear" takes on the men's side of the outhouse
Becka’s husband “Bear” takes on the men’s side of the outhouse
The pirate ship is taking form
The pirate ship is taking form…final pictures to follow
Decks and walk ways are set into place...while slipping and sliding in the mud
After a whole lot of brush clearing, the decks and walk ways are set into place for the intern micro cabin community…while slipping and sliding in the mud. Thank you Bob, Gary, Tony, Mark, Dave, Gary, Jim, Glenn, Hank, Bear, Al & Steve…an awesome crew!
Heather tackles the giant lolliepop display for the candy section in the store
Heather tackles the giant lolliepop display for the candy section in the store
Darcy and the giant lollipop construction...note to self...just 'cause it's on pintrest does not make it easy
Darcy and the giant lollipop construction…note to self…just ’cause it’s on Pintrest does not make it easy
Pot luck on Saturday night...challenge question after dinner: "what is the most interesting camping story that you can share?"
Pot luck on Saturday night…challenge question after dinner: “what is the most interesting camping story that you can share?”
Comfort food after a long day in coastal Maine drizzle
Comfort food after a long day in coastal Maine drizzle

There are so many photos we didn’t snap and so many people we haven’t thanked…please forgive us and send pictures if you have them…we cherish the memories;  in the meantime, thank you Betsy for sharing your camera loot!

“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing. ”  Dr. Suess

What did Your World Sound Like Today?

What did Your World Sound Like Today?

My world crackled with dried pine boughs, the gurgle of the stream (quivering with elvers), the lapping of the waves, the distant sound of bell buoys and the cacophony of sea birds…gulls and ducks and osprey.

The fog changes our perceptions of distance…Steven’s chainsaw at the art studio sounded miles away but the bell buoys off Sears Island sounded like you could reach out and touch them…a magical afternoon of chores.

What did you hear today?