Monday, October 10, 2011

Will Ansel, boatbuilder.

A few years ago I had the fortune of meeting Will Ansel, a boatbuilder and author, on a drive through midcoast Maine. It was a short visit, I had pulled on to the side of the road to look at the building that I would soon find out Mr. Ansel's workshop. Ansel spent years working in the boat building industry in Mystic, Connecticut, and now resides on the Maine coast. In 2010 he turned 90 and was busy working with the children at Georgetown Elementary building a boat. His book - A Kid's Book on Boatbuilding.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homarus americanus. In blue.

Quite the site at Sewall Bridge in York yesterday. Homarus americanus, also known as the American Lobster, Northern Lobster, Maine Lobster, usually has a dark purplish greenish brownish hue when plucked from the Atlantic's icy waters.  I met one of these crustaceans yesterday that is blue, a celebrated lobster of a catch from waters off the Southern Maine coast. According to Wikipedia, one out of every 2-5 million lobsters shows up dressed in blue, this one in a gorgeous, vibrant palette of cerulean. I hate the thought of the fashion trailblazer tossed into a pot of boiling water and steam, changing to the familiar shades of red and made part of a surf and turf special. I am happy to report the blue wonder is destined for academic stardom at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH. Alive. There are enough other lobsters that can strut their culinary charisma in lobster rolls and bib and butter sessions.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just in time.

The road tar team must have worked overtime yesterday to get Beach and Main Streets ready for the Memorial Day Weekend visitors. A fog on this morning's walk couldn't hide the dark new roadways and new brickwork on some sidewalks. Bravo. I didn't even want to think about what minvans from afar looked like navigating orange cones and 2 inch dips in pavement. Flood control construction looks complete.

Had to go check out Main Street and see who is open for business. Still quiet on the beachfront but The Goldenrod was open with a counterful of breakfast revelers. The taffy machines in the window were silent but that will change by noon. Lil Bull looks ready for business. Always odd to see a store with turquoise stones and Native American feathers and leathers at the beach but then again I forget that my Arizona and New Mexico favorites aren't the only American Indian outposts and many people on the East coast never venture to Native lands or know of the ones in their own backyard. Grab some beach treasure and a piece of Native jewelry before you leave. Pizza Farros looks closed, windows plastered with political griping that's gone on for more than a year - something about councilmen, building structure, repairs and strained alliances. I'd like to send them all to therapy. Pizza should be about love.

Crossing the street I see that the Euphoria Salon, though closed at 8 a.m., is still in business, as will be the Kettle Corn shop. I pop my head in the Psychic's storefront. She's on the phone, I can barely see her back in the dark corner of the small black and red-curtained room right off the sidewalk but the neon in the window says she's in business. I wished her a good season. She was on her cellphone. Why is that odd to me? A psychic on a cellphone. Sweet woman, maybe she could help Pizza Farros decide whether there is going to be pizza pies in their future.

Josie's Sweet Shop will have a hundred screaming kids in there any minute now. Parents should harness that sugar infusion and have their kids build sand forts that will keep them quiet for hours. Harry's looks almost ready to serve up red and white paper baskets of fish and chips and all things lobster. The door was open at Garfields, Sunday papers stacked, and a sign on the front side window stating the Lottery is at $200 million.  That would pay for more than a beach vacation.

The corner of Beach and Main smells like breakfast. Maybe at the Purple Cow.Toast, maple syrup, the smells of cooking oil and a hot kitchen grill. The Atlantic House is quiet, for now. There'll be jazz and a few Jimmy Buffet tunes and partying on the second floor deck by the afternoon. The Union Bluff quiet as well but the canvas Guinness-logod table umbrellas were just going up, the tide just going out and let's hope everyone wears sunscreen.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Readying the beachfront town.

These morning walks clear my head and lungs, not that my lungs feel like they need clearing, this coastal air feels as pure as the ocean horizon it meets. But after the long winter we just had an the ridiculously rainy Spring, Summer just arrived, like a relative without notice. I am happy to see Summer but what happened to Spring? Regardless, it's here and this small coastal town is putting the final touches on getting beach-tourist ready. I watch it like an odd mix of a foreigner and a local. We've been here 5 years, going into a 6th summer and I still feel the West desert blood in my veins, finding this coastal life quaint and an interesting mix of quiet and and something like a junior version of Coney Island 4 months a year.

I called this town "Maybury" when we first arrived. It's a huge contrast after Phoenix and its traffic, crime and "air pollutants" as they were called every day, from too much leveling of Pima cotton fields to build way too many un needed ranch-sytle homes. Del Webb, you build nicely planned communities but really, there isn't enough water for all that Stepford Wives neighborhood sprawl. I hope those farmers were paid handsomely and are enjoying a nice vacation in the Bahamas.

Southern Maine is charming, dayboat haddock rules, and my auto insurance is $67 a month. The air is clear, the drivers kind until the summer visitors from Massachusetts arrive every Memorial Day weekend and bring their road aggression with them.  Slow down people. Really. And be kind.

Fresh tar is being laid down in front on Beach Street after the town put in a flood prevention underground water channel, much needed apparently, after the "Mother's Day flood" of 2006. I remember that flood. We hadn't arrived here yet but saw the picture on the front of the LA Times of a man in a rowboat rowing past the front of what would be one of the candy shops that I would walk past 2 weeks later on my way to our new little post office. The water was halfway up the storefront windows. Wow. This is going to be interesting I thought. By the time we drove our U-Haul truck up Route One and to the hotel, the water had receded, people were putting the final touches of paint on new wood of the repairs and the beach was open for business.

They'll come from Massachusetts this weekend, there's a bit more tar to lay down, a few more strips of sod on the lawn in front of "the Bluff". The Goldenrod will start making taffy, hypnotizing toddlers and 3 generations past them with humming antique taffy machines in the windows stretching the next batch of peanut butter or maybe blueberry goodness.  York Beach will be open for business. And I'll want to go to Boston.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Is this a village? I think this is a village.

I've never stopped to wonder, I guess, whether this "town" was just that..a town, a city, a village. When surveys ask you if you live "rural" or "urban", there's no category for life in between. This is the first morning walk that made me wonder just what this adopted "community" we live in is as I sucked in what feels like the first morning air of true Spring and passed daffodils and the hotel maintenance guy sweeping the walkway on my way to the bakery to buy hot cross buns. It's Easter. I don't hear kids screaming for Easter eggs ( it's a village after all, I know they're somewhere) but I suspect parents everywhere have woken as early as they did on Christmas. or maybe Easter Egg hunts are reserved for afternoon romps on hillsides and backyards. So back to the daffodils. A row of them yellow, bright and alert as I walked towards the mix of yeast scents and wood oven aromas from the bakery and restaurant at the corner of Beach and Main. My head went to what village life must be like in France this morning. Provence. Or Tuscany for that matter or any European spot on the map. Flowers. Fresh bread. Sidewalks swept. This is Spring. And this is Maine. I'll look up the guidelines of "village" categorization later.