Turkey Tracks: July 9th, 2013
Gregory Heath Visits Maine
My brother-in-law Gregory Heath arrived in Maine Saturday morning shepherding his nephew “Also Gregory” Heath (18) and his granddaughter Fiona Whittle (12) for their first look at Maine and their first sail on a windjammer, the J&E Riggin, our family’s favorite. Absent was Greg’s granddaughter Emma Bryan Booker (almost 14), daughter of Catherine Heath Booker (deceased) and Jay Booker. Amie Price, who has momentary legal primary custody of Emma, refused to let her come two days before departure, though she gave permission for this trip earlier and though Greg had paid already for all of Emma’s travel and for the Riggin.
Fiona and Emma are my grandnieces, and Catherine, Emma’s mother, was my godchild and someone I loved dearly and miss dearly. If you read my initial essays on this blog, you will see that Catherine’s death is how I got to Maine in the first place. (Life is short and then you die, so you’ve got to live every minute fully and with joy, which for me came to involve moving to Maine.) In the short year of Catherine’s terrible cancer, I spent every minute I could with her, often sleeping in the hospital room with her for a week at the time. We all worked together to never leave her alone in that year, and she tried everything possible so she could stay with Emma, who was just a little over a year old when Catherine’s cancer appeared, and Jay. Catherine and Jay were not yet thirty when this tragedy occurred: Catherine died at 27 years old. You can tell by now that I’m not going to “play nice” about Amie’s cruelty to Catherine’s daughter, to Catherine’s family.
I collected the “crew” from the Owl’s Head airport around noon on Saturday. “Also Gregory’s” comment: “I’ve never been in such a small airport.” We went directly to the Owl’s Head General Store for “the best hamburger in Maine,” appropriately called “the seven napkin hamburger.” We took our food to the nearby Owl’s Head Lighthouse park for a picnic overlooking Penobscot Bay and some of its gorgeous islands. Along the way we passed a working lobster harbor and wharf’s, which was filled with lobster boats which had returned from their early morning lobster trips.
After lunch we toured the Owl’s Head lighthouse grounds and admired the water and harbor views. Owl’s Head sticks way out into the bay and from it, you can see a lot of the coastline, the nearby islands, and all kinds of boats in motion.
It was HOT, HOT, and humid. So we headed to my home, donned swimming suits, and went for a swim at Shirttail point, which is on the Megunticook River–which was once lined with dams and mills.
We had a fabulous dinner, which we all helped to cook. Fiona and I made a green salad from all our local fresh ingredients, including roasted beets and goat cheese–and dressed with a mustardy dressing made with my own garlic. (In my world, there is no such thing as too much garlic.) My pictures of the two salads are blurry, blurry, but I’m showing them just so you can get some idea of what we made.
We also made a potato salad using locally grown purple potatoes (full of nutrients), homemade mayo, and boiled eggs from my chickens. We added in my herbs and local scallions liberally to everything.
Meanwhile, Greg and Also Greg were cooking steaks:
The steaks could be topped with my basil/garlic oil, which I make in the summer and freeze in small containers and enjoy all year on meat, in soups, in salad dressings:
Off and on all that first afternoon, Greg set about helping me with some household chores that had gotten away from me–especially with all the rain. Among those chores was the sweeping of all the decks and cleaning the glass-topped table and chairs. Look how it shines!
We ate our breakfast out here on Sunday morning: blueberry fiddle cakes, real butter, real maple syrup, my blueberry jam, almond butter, strawberries from my garden, and cantaloupe. Afterwards we put on our bathing suits under our clothes and went to Mt. Battie.
Here’s part of the view from this point. That’s Owl’s Head sticking way out at the top of the coastline you can see. Camden Town is the beautiful harbor you see in the center.
Next we walked along the mountain top to the tower which was built after WWI. Prior to the tower, an inn sat on this site. Carriage trails up the mountain led to it–and they are now hiking trails. The inn burned at some point.
Here’s the crew at the top of the tower:
And here’s one part of their 350 degree view–which looks out to Bald Mountain and Howe Hill where my house is.
The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay grew up in Camden and once recited the poem “Renaissance” to the Camden Ladies Club at the Whitehall Inn. One of the women saw to it that Millay went to college afterwards. Millay used to hike up to Mt. Battie and created the first lines of the poem there. Here’s the plaque that lies near the tower, featuring the opening lines of the poem:
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
I turned and looked another way
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes traced the line
Of the horizon thin and fine
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from.
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three mountains and a wood.
Again, we were HOT, HOT, so we headed to Fernald’s Neck–a preserve–for a swim. We hiked this path through the conifers–about 1/4 of a mile–to Balance Rock and the sunny ledges where it’s lovely to swim:
Fiona was always the first one into the water in both swimming events. She was fearless and stayed until we had to go.
Our mountains are very, very old and worn–so they seem to be more like big hills.
We swam and sunned for some time–and it was glorious and joyful.
Here’s the crew at Balance Rock–a huge boulder left by the retreating glaciers that scoured the surface of Maine, leaving all the depressions that turned into our many, many lakes.
At home, we had a lunch of our leftovers–on the shiny clean table–and the crew dispersed to get ready to go to the J&E Riggin.
When we got there, I was so happy to see Captains Jon and Annie that I didn’t take a single picture. Captain Jon oriented the passengers on the boat and then we were free to go out to dinner and to see a little of Rockland, which is a charming place filled with art galleries and clever stores.
Greg treated us to dinner at Cafe Miranda–which is a very fun place that has very fun food.
And now, the crew is out on the bay sailing. I hope that they are having a good time. The weather is mixed–and has cooled way off. I sent them with all my rain gear–I had two sets–so at least two of them are covered. I’ve been on the Riggin in all kinds of weather and it’s always been fun.
Here’s the Riggin under sail. She’s big and fast and very stable.
If you search on “images” and “J&E Riggin” you’ll get a page of pictures of what the boat looks like from a lot of different angles. And, of Captains Jon and Annie. By the way, Annie has published two cookbooks and has a great blog where she posts lots of recipes.
I will pick them up on Thursday morning. And we will spend some time in Camden and, weather permitting, will swim.
They fly back to DC on Friday morning, and I miss them already.