The Edge of Land: Cove Dreams

Drive down Route 129 from Bristol far enough and you get to Rutherford Island in S. Bristol. It’s a beautiful place — frequented by lobster boats and summer renters, it’s not exactly a tourist hot spot but it is exactly what you want Maine to be in the summer. There is a feeling of exclusivity there, exuded by those lucky enough to own a house on the island and those who fish the waters around Christmas Cove. But feel free to go anyway. I’ll let you in on a secret spot there. You can bring a lunch and nonchalantly drive into “town” knowing where to go.

Let me take you on a little drive first…

Down Route 129

Over the swing bridge (closed for the moment).

Packing his catch.

Yeah, did you see that sign? That’s what you’re looking for. Drive past beautiful stately homes, the boats of Christmas Cove bobbing at anchor, and a tennis court and you’ll see this sign when you feel like you could drive no more. When you feel like you’ll drive off the edge of the land, hang a right and go down a steep hill and find this little jewel of a beach…

It really is the perfect place for admiring the sea, sweet baby feet in the sand, and the ripening beach plums, signaling summer’s peak.

You will feel like you are in your own little world — your private piece of the Maine coast. And it is yours. Shhh. Don’t break my reverie.

(Erin)

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Morning Dew

In our neighbourhood, we have an abundance of amazing organic farmers.

Trying to support them all is a worthwhile endeavour, and one that we attempt very lightly on Friday mornings at the Damarsicotta Farmers Market. Generally we try and grow much of our own produce, but this year, like a few before it, have been so loaded with our busyness that that simply wasn’t possible.  Enter in- the CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture is an incredible means of enjoying the summer’s bounty while helping the farmer. With a CSA, you pay up front for a season of goods (there are many around that supply milk, cheese, vegetables, meat, winter vegetables, sea food, etc, etc…) and throughout that season you pick up weekly amounts of the harvest.  It’s an amazing method, and worth the upfront if you can manage it. AND if it happens you can’t, many farmers now have been a part of a grant that allows them to take EBT cards for a half the cost while the other half is paid by the state. For many the ideal of a CSA is unreachable, and this makes it possible. See here for more information.

Bringing local home is what it is all about.

This season our family has a CSA through Morning Dew Farm of Newcastle. I’ve known Brady Hatch for years…(about 15…wow…) and met her husband Brendan about 7 years ago when we moved back from Portland. They were just starting up back then, and have since made quite a name and business for themselves in our small midcoast area. Their clientele includes specialty food stores (like Treats), local restaurants (like the Newcastle Publik House, the cafe at The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and Savory Maine), Rising Tide and Good Tern co-ops  as well as  just general everyday folk like you and me who happen upon their lovely goods. (Their salad provencal mix is AMAZING…whilst pregnant with my youngest I bought it by the pound and ate it for breakfast…it was the best cure for morning sickness that I found.)

This past Thursday my wee one and I arrived early to the farm and wandered while we waited. Such a lovely farm. (And, as always, it feels so good to see our food growing and know where it comes from!)

(This will be my last post until September, as we are busily trying to put some hard work in on our new house. I am passing the command over to Erin… See you in September in time for the Common Ground Fair! Happy summer all!  xo, ida)

Dot’s Ice Cream

Out of the blue and almost late, we decided to check out this new ice cream shop in Bath.

Ok, Ok, it has been there probably a year.

Dot’s has Shaun’s of Maine ice cream, which neither of us had ever tried, and it was quite the experience. They have a BRIGHT blue variety called “H2O.”

This little shop has quite the extensive menu and seems to be a hot spot for the younger crowd, especially the 14 to 18 crew.

My girl loved her “soft serve vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.”

Dot’s is a very classic ice cream shop, with tons of offerings. Very unique flavour combinations and super friendly service.

My girls loved it (the wee one spent the whole time running around and climbing up on the child size tables…!), and for me it made me remember how going out for ice cream as a kid is a major event. So much to choose from, so many options. Some times so much that it’s easier to just pick the same thing every time. My girl is in that kick, thanks to her buddy Logan. Very very sweet to watch her in her independence by her choice of ice cream flavour. To each their own.

(ida)

Greenhouse Happy

With the genial warmth of April fully upon us, greenhouses and growing operations all over Maine are opening. We ventured out to one of the largest around — Moose Crossing Garden Center on Route One in Waldoboro. We resisted going on opening day, but only barely. And we were delighted and amazed by all they had to offer so early in the season.

We went in search of pansies and strawberry seedlings, but found a wealth of variety and color in the warmth of the large pleasant greenhouses.

It’s a wonderful field trip for kids who love to pick out their own plants and ride between fragrant rows on wagons. And for color-deprived mamas at the end of winter.

wagon riding

violas

happy faces

in the cart

greenhouse

strawberry babies

english rose

perennial view

geraniums

Now we truly love starting plants from seed here at Your Midcoast Mama. Nothing is more wonderful than seeing seedlings unfurl in their little starting pots or trays; there is no better lesson in patience and nurturing. But there is something luxurious about the instant gratification of buying trays of gloriously colored flowers and sturdily-started reliable seedings. After the longest week of spring, getting my children back to health, it was oh-so-necessary to bask in the tropical warmth and bounty of these greenhouses.  This mama highly recommends a visit, if only to gawk at the incredible variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, bushes, vegetable starts, and herbs. Especially on a dreary, drizzly day. Is it supposed to rain next week? We might just have to return to be enveloped in bright and fragrant warmth.

Moose Crossing Garden Center is located at 3033 Atlantic Highway (Route One) in Waldoboro. Drive north of Moody’s Diner and you can’t miss it. They welcome children (even those who find plucking flowers irresistible) and their friendly staff members are eager to answer questions (including about which fairies live in which flowers) and will even listen happily to incessant yodeling between the rows of flowers.

(Erin)

The Mills (dreaming of summer!)

After the super bizarre weather at the end of March that had us at the beach, I have been dreaming of the days of summer that had us swimming nearly every day.

My oldest daughter LOVES the water, and always has. My youngest, however, thinks it is the absolute worst thing on earth. She hates it with a real and intense passion. (Anytime she nears the bath, she screams… I have been trying for a while to make it a calm and peaceful experience for her, to no avail. Mind numbing screams. I hope our neighbours forgive us…)

In any case. My oldest is a fish. And because of this, we were at water most of the summer last year, and she learned to swim. Something that, admittedly, took me until I was about 11 to do. (Shameful, huh, growing up on the coast of Maine? My love of water is closer to my youngest’s… I like it mostly for it’s cleaning purposes, but otherwise I like to sit on the sand…) My daughter’s absolute favourite swimming hole is Damariscotta Mills, which is, technically speaking, in the foggy area between Newcastle and Nobleboro.  There is a sweet shallow beach for the wee ones, sharp pointy rocks for the big kids, and a bridge for jumping for the adventuresome types.  Thankfully, my daughter still loves the side where there is a strip of sand and grass for the babies to play.

On some mornings (ones when I didn’t have to rush off to work) we would pack up our cooler full of snacks and head out the door, finding ourselves at the Mills before anyone else. It would often still require a long sleeve shirt for the first hour, and then layers would be shed and my girl would be up to her waist in the cool of Damariscotta Lake. I would have to remind her not to go too far, as much as she wanted to. She was bound and determined come summer’s end that she would swim to the middle. Ah, my little fish.

(The Damariscotta Mills swimming hole is a challenging place to find if you aren’t local and don’t know where you are… But if you can find Alewives Fabrics, you can find it. Just keep going up the hill!)

(ida)

A Garden Party

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was writing about the beach. Or actually, I was AT the beach. As I type this, there is snow and sleet coming down outside my window. The crocuses are now covered in a thin layer of “poor man’s fertilizer” and I’m thanking my instinct/experience/laziness for not putting seeds into the ground yet.

But almost two weekends ago, we celebrated my sweet girl’s fifth birthday under cloudless blue skies and in unusually balmy March temperatures at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. We were delighted to hear that we were welcome to use the space in the Children’s Garden and pay only a nominal fee for use of the bathroom facilities. (The garden is “closed” until April 1st and there is no charge but also no use of the indoor spaces until then.) So we set up a lovely feast under the covered picnicking area and the children quickly spread out around the grounds, with the birthday girl leading the charge.

(all photos are copyright of Michelle Garner Photography, 2012)

We were very fortunate in the weather, the company, the accessibility of the gardens, and in our photographer friend, Michelle Garner. As you can see, Michelle does excellent work, especially in capturing the spirit of children at play! She is located in Central Maine but is willing to travel. Check out her work!

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens actually does “host” birthday parties during the “on” season. I had no idea until I started exploring their website. The staff are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable so I can only imagine how much fun it would be to have them take care of the party for you. I really love their themes too: Miss Rumphius, Stone Wall Dragons, Fairy Houses, and Blueberries for Sal. But we were just as delighted with our off-season venture. There is something magical about feeling you “own” the garden for a couple of hours. The pirate girl certainly thought so!

There is plenty of space at CMBG to have the most piratical of treasure hunts, as well as to open presents.

And when you’re ready to rest with some sweet babies, there is a place for that too.

Hope to see you at the gardens this spring! (Erin)

A March Beach?

What a week we’ve had on the coast of Maine. The Vernal Equinox arrived with unusually high temperatures (60’s, 70’s, um, 80’s?) and bright blinding sunlight. Everywhere the crocuses have opened their cups of violet and gold. It seems like we skipped over mud season, maple syrup season, and spring thaw and went straight into summer. This isn’t really a good thing (drought, bugs, poor sap harvest) but there’s one wonderful thing about summer in March: the beach.

We decided not to fight it when, for the fourth day in a row, the day dawned bright and warm and as bright blue as anyone could ask for. I packed my car with blankets, buckets, snacks, and children and headed for Pemaquid Beach. We met another mama and her girls and enjoyed the sun and sand and off-season quiet and freedom. When else can you be on your favorite beach in seventy degree weather with no one else around?

Even though there were babies enjoying the sand….

And mamas enjoying the sun…

… this story belongs to two little girls reveling in a seaside adventure of digging for treasure…

and exploring “far out” beyond the reach of their mamas…

and getting thoroughly soaked and sandy and happy in the process.

The day belonged to the children as they reminded us mamas that smelly mussel shells are as good as gold, that waving to our shadows is magical, that getting wet in the sea is a vital part of a hot March day. It was almost too good to be true.  (Erin)

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Pemaquid Beach is technically “closed” from October 15th – May 1st (after May 1st a strict “no pets” ban goes into effect), but if you’re hearty, you can park outside the gate and walk in. Just remember you’ll have to fend for yourself restroom-wise! In the “on-season,” there are restrooms, a snack shop (with darn good french fries), ample parking, bathrooms/changing spaces, picnic tables galore, sand chair/umbrella/toy rentals, though no lifeguard on duty. Fees are $4/person, children under 12 free. For more information, visit the Bristol Parks and Recreation page.