Off Season in Maine

fullsizeoutput_2915
We took a trip to Maine this past November for our 5 year anniversary. We shared a wonderful cottage on a cove in Phippsburg, Maine with 3 other couples, our dear friends, who also were celebrating their 5th. While November is definitely not thought of as a prime time to visit the craggy seashore of rural Maine, and we had one day that was very cold, and another that was rainy and windy, it still was a beautiful trip.fullsizeoutput_2965

fullsizeoutput_28a5The fun started before we even made it to the cottage. We drove a little north of Phippsburg to Boothbay Harbor, a place I have fond memories of going to as a child. We stopped off for lunch at the Tugboat Inn, which did indeed have a tug boat as part of the restaurant. It was a perfect Maine meal: fresh lobster rolls while looking out over the shining water dotted with pine trees perched atop rocky little islands.

fullsizeoutput_289cfullsizeoutput_2892We made sure to do a bit of antiquing and poked into the shops of Wiscassett, a quaint and historic little Main street community that was a joy to wander around in (even though the wind was whipping and cold!) We’re glad we took the back way down to Phippsburg, because we stumbled upon an old mansion perched on top of a hill. The sun setting behind it made for quite a sight. For those wanting to see it, it’s actually called Castle Tucker, it’s found on Lee Street in Wiscassett, and it is sometimes open for tours.

fullsizeoutput_2898fullsizeoutput_289eA highlight for me was waking up early on both mornings to take solitary walks. It’s always so easy for me to roll over and keep sleeping, but I’ve never regretted taking an early morning walk: it is so centering, calming, and makes the day feel accomplished before it even starts.

 

On Saturday morning I was graced with the sun streaming onto the white curtains, lovely and golden. I slipped outside and took a walk down to the point. The weather was sunny and brisk. Down on the docks there were fishermen getting their boats and lobster traps ready for a day on the water.

fullsizeoutput_288f


fullsizeoutput_28f3Sunday morning’s weather was opposite: the sun was replaced by heavy rain and winds lashing against the house. All the same, I donned my rain coat and wellies and took my early morning walk. What a joy it was even in that weather! Exhilarating really. The waves were coming in fast and strong, but it was on the warmer side so I wasn’t uncomfortable with my face in the rain-filled wind. I stumbled upon some deer tracks, very fresh, leading right down to the water’s edge in the cove. I looked all around for the deer but must have just missed it.

 

fullsizeoutput_296bAfter the walks, I settled in to the cozy cottage and waited for my friends still sleeping peacefully to wake, one by one. A little trick that made the morning extra easy and enjoyable was pre-cooking oatcakes at home the day before we left for the trip.  That way, when I got back from walking, I could just heat up the oatcake on the skillet really quickly, top it off with berries and fresh maple syrup, and call it done! I will definitely do that again when taking a weekend trip. It’s so much easier cooking in your own kitchen at home and not having to deal with making batter and a mess was awesome. And people could heat up their own pancakes as they woke up. Just a little tip 🙂fullsizeoutput_28f5fullsizeoutput_28fffullsizeoutput_28fdThere are many activities to enjoy around the Phippsburg area. One that my husband remembered fondly from childhood was Popham beach and the fort at one end of it.  I loved beach combing there, I found little driftwood nuggets as we took to calling them. I took a few pocketfuls back home.fullsizeoutput_2902fullsizeoutput_28f2fullsizeoutput_2913We also took a little hike in the woods to an overlook and drove down a side road to discover little coves tucked away. Both of these were off of West Point Road in Phippsburg. There was a sign marking it with a parking area, but it’s best to drive all the way down because there is another parking area right by the cove. Unless you want to take a stroll of course. I’m sorry I forget what the cove was called, but it is on West Point in Phippsburg.fullsizeoutput_2912IMG_2893We made a couple of stops on the journey home. Freeport Maine is home to the L.L. Bean Factory store, which is really like a sprawling campus of stores and lucky for us they had reindeers in the outside barn area. Real reindeers! That was neat, and very unexpected. Our last stop was the Portsmouth Brewery, always a classic place to eat in that quaint Port town.fullsizeoutput_296dfullsizeoutput_2916So, in other words, a nice trip to Maine doesn’t need to be taken during peak season and you don’t have to pay a premium. If you split the cost of a rental with friends, bring food from home, and entertain yourself with free of charge hikes and beach walks, it really is a quite reasonable excursion. And there is little else more inspiring and beautiful than the craggy shore of Maine.fullsizeoutput_2944

SaveSave

Tuesday’s Inspiration: Jan Mankes

_Jan_Mankes_-_View_studio_in_Eerbeek__1889View from the Studio in Eerbeek

Jan Mankes

1917

 

This is how I felt on my walk today. It was a bit dreary. We are in the midst of the February doldrums. Despite the dreary vibe, this picture holds a certain beauty. I love the tones, and that background with the house sort of blurring into the trees. The bare branches of the tree and hedgerow. And the little flock of birds, reminding us to look around and notice things to be thankful for. I had to tell myself that today while I was out walking in fact. I was feeling a bit off and said in my head, “find something beautiful”. I looked up and noticed a stand of young birch trees. I focused on them and for a minute wasn’t focusing on my chilly ears, or tired body, or unsettled thoughts. It always helps to find and focus on the beauty. I found this painting on Pinterest a few weeks ago. It is a fitting image to share for Tuesday’s Inspiration.

An Afternoon at the Harris Center

Nestled deep in beautiful Hancock, New Hampshire, the Harris Center for Conservation Education is the perfect place to take a walk. The grounds are open to the public and they welcome leashed dogs as well. I happened to be there a couple of weeks ago for an appreciation luncheon that the Hancock Town Library was putting on for it’s staff and volunteers. After a delicious meal and an educational and amusing lecture by one of the Center’s senior Naturalists, the guests funneled out to the parking lot but I just wasn’t ready to leave. The sun was finally out after a cloudy morning and the beautiful grounds of the Harris Center were calling to me… Processed with Snapseed.

I don’t know very much about the history of the house itself other than that it was a grand country summer estate in times past. The historical details on the property abound, from the built in stone benches tucked away under massive wisteria and grape vines to the diagonally latticed windows which make me feel like I’ve stepped into the English countryside. The stone work has just settled into the landscape as if it has always been there. And though I went there towards the end of September, the flower gardens were still filled with colorful blooms, especially the pollinators garden, which was mindfully planted with the appetite of native species of bees and butterflies in mind. The pollinators garden was humming with life as I carefully wound along the globe thistle, butterfly bushes, and coneflower. The garden was planted in the property’s former swimming pool- what a good repurposing idea! Planting flowers is always a good choice.

Processed with Snapseed.Because I was alone, I stuck to the grounds and did not venture out into the surrounding woods. They do have a vast trail system however, and one day I would like to explore all of them. Check out their list of trails here, on their website. But I was more than happy to stick to the grounds and spent well over an hour meandering about. They’ve kept most of the surrounding grassy areas as natural meadow except for pleasant mown paths which lead around the entire property in a large circle. On the far edge near the road, I found a patch of giant sunflowers, just about gone by. I will have to remember it’s there next year and visit just a couple weeks earlier so I can see them in their glory. Processed with Snapseed.

Processed with Snapseed.

So if you’re ever looking for a quiet, beautiful place to spend a bit of time look no further than the Harris Center in Hancock, NH. I could have sat on the old stone bench eating grapes from the vines over my head for hours (if the bench wasn’t covered in squashed grapes that is haha) I did sneak a few grapes 🙂 Processed with Snapseed.