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 😉

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Hoop Dancer Jen Appleby July 16-19

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Jen guiding morning mindful stretch 

Hello future hoop friends!

My name is Jen Appleby and I will be bringing Wingspan Mindful Movement to Searsport Shores July 16-19th. I am a hula hoop dancer from Lisbon Falls Maine and I love helping kids and adults alike find joy in learning to hoopdance. I am a long time mover and have dabbled in tai chi, yoga, ballet, and baton before finding a home in hoopdance as ‘flow art’ five years ago. I love engaging in the physical exploration of moving with a prop and expressing myself through dance. Hoopdance is truly an art and a science. It also affords a person’s mind and body a uniquely creative means to connect to the present moment and to one’s own personal, physical experience. Hoopdance is good for balance, flexibility, attention, energy regulation, stress reduction, weight loss, core toning, immune strengthening and self-expression. I will hold two sessions daily on the 17th and 18th with an evening jam on the 16th and a morning mindful stretch on the 19th. Morning classes will focus on meeting the day with gently and gracefully. We will gather on the beautiful ocean deck and focus on using the hoop as a tool for meditative stretching. In the evening we will jam out on the bball court during which time I will demo some basic dance moves and offer one to one instruction as we all dance together. Both classes are open to all ages and abilities, though the am. class may be more conducive to children over 12. I will have hoops available for use as well as purchase. Please give yourself the gift of silly and serious fun. Come join the circle!

Giant bubbles!

I will also be blowing giant bubbles and will have them available for purchase!

Ever wondered what is the biggest bubble you could blow? Come join Jen before hoop class on the basket ball court and experience the giant fun of creating enormous soap bubbles. With some basic know how, the right weather conditions and a little patience, you too can enjoy this whimsical and mindful art. Jen will have wands to try and wands for purchase. Come be amazed and then stay on for hula hoop dance party!

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Day of Love

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Today’s agenda:

Blueberry scones, lemon curd and a new blend of dark coffee from Green Tree Roasters in Lincolnville…sitting in a sunny window with a good friend

Answer e-mails and return phone calls

Worm the goats, trim their hooves and feed them handfuls of sunflower seeds…so they know that they’re loved

Walk the beach when the sun is highest…the Steve and I will be hunting for purple sea glass, the hound will be hunting for pee messages

Homemade Turkey Pie (the turkey was grown on Betty’s farm in Winterport), cranberry sauce from a can and a bottle of cold white wine we’ve been saving for a “special occasion”…chocolate lava cake and Gifford’s vanilla bean Ice Cream

Check e-mails & phone messages

A “chick flick” and followed by a long hot sauna and a run through the snow…early to bed.

 

I’m well aware that the easiest way to make the Gods laugh is to tell them your plans…so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed…

Love to you too!

Walking the Beach

There was Spring in the air today…I heard more chickadees and phoebes than I have in months, the ground smelled warmer and the goats hung out on their rooftop soaking up the sun…I hope this isn’t a cruel joke…

J.J. the hound and I walked to Moose Point State Park…

This is what we saw:

No breezes all the way to Castine
The perfect piece of driftwood for the garden
Spiney Urchin or the perfect image for a winter beach greeting card?
An invitation to sit and contemplate the world

When we got back we accomplished more tasks from the list…insurance phone calls, banking phone calls, a new Dog aquarium sign ordered…and the beginning work on new business cards…boy I’m efficient!

And the wind howled…

The storm came out of the Southeast…it started raining in the early hours and didn’t stop for 48 hours…it was warm and there were times I thought for certain we’d find our sky lights and roof shingles scattered across the playground in front of the house.  Sunday morning we had enough snow for a good ski…this is what things look like on Tuesday afternoon.

The stream that cuts through the campground
This all washed in during 48 hours
The answer to the goats' prayers...acorns in January. Can you see that the hillside is strewn with sea urchins too?
Flotsam, jetsam and boulders strewn across the seawall

Seining for Knowledge

not as cold as it looks

The Penobscot Bay Watch has been collecting information this fall to establish the importance of the upper Penobscot Bay fish nurseries.   Their blog is one of my “must reads” and one of the only RSS feeds I subscribe to.  Although we’re not able to stay as active as we’d like, we do manage to participate sometimes and we were happy to invite the group to use our beach for their research.

Trained by marine biologists from the University of Maine, the researchers used a 60′, 1/4″ net held on either end by wet suit clad volunteers.  They dragged at the slack tide for a maximum catch.

While they were here they also tested water quality using a marine aquarium water testing kit that used a litmus strip with 4 parameters: nitrate, nitrite, alkalinity, pH, to give approximation readings. Temperature readings of the water were also made.

In spite of the cold and foggy weather, a group from the Bay Watchers came to our shores and netted the waters at low tide and caught several species of fish (juvenile cod, hake, perch, flounder, herring and a few that remain unidentified), shrimp, seastars, crabs and sea urchins.  Click here for the complete photo gallery.