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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Adventures in Bremen, Maine




Whitmore Cottage
After three and a half hours driving up 95 North through to Route 1 Coastal and finally ending up somewhere in the mid-coast region, we get to Damariscotta, the last brush with civilization before we head up to our little getaway by the sea. Stopping off at the local supermarket, we cruise down the aisles planning out meals for the next 5 days or so – Leah grabs a ticket at the deli section, while I start getting overwhelmed by the amount of fruits and vegetables in front of me. Burgers, Steak, Chicken, Kielbasa (thank you Poland), Cereal, Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Burger buns, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cola, pancake mix, Juice, Ice Cream (best enjoyed in the summer), the list just keeps on growing... Just before we get to the register, a quick mental note of our provisions is taken – do we need anything else? Babe, it's a 15-20 minute drive back to the supermarket – I am not driving back to fetch you anything. The closest thing you‘d remotely consider commercial civilization is a 15 minute trip away (one way) - but fresh lobster and clams, 2 minutes, tops… The barcode scanner is exhausted at checkout, money is exchanged, and back on the road to our final stop: the video store – Spending your holiday in a cottage on the coast in the middle of "no one can hear you scream" country, means that you do need something to keep you busy at night…

I've been doing the trip up to Whitmore Cottage with Leah for 4 years now.. A place that once seemed so foreign and amusingly rural is now like a dream-home to me, a getaway… The Cottage has been in her family almost 100 years & has come a long way since the days of the outhouse and eyes in the darkness... This is everything you'd picture a quaint cottage to be, wooden beams, creaky floorboards, fireplace, a lot of forest, and a path leading to a dock that leads to the Atlantic Ocean.

I don't even know where to begin… On a dirt country road that looks like a picture from a Credence Clearwater Revival vinyl album cover, your first reaction when you pull up to the cottage is "I am so done with being cooped up in a car" – then it's soon switched for a smile and a sense of really being on holiday - a place where you can do anything and nothing, you decide… the lobster traps set out at the entrance, the barrel filled with impatience (flowers, I shit you not) – the gas grill: my territory. A screened in porch with rocking chairs facing a path that leads to the ocean, a hammock for lounging around and enjoying the cool sea air while you read or just think…

Inside: Imagine an isolated house with enough things to keep you amused indoors for all sorts of people and all sorts of groups of people and all sorts of bad weather days (very important). Cards, Backgammon, Chess, Board Games, Movies, all types of Puzzles, Books Books and more Books - Leah‘s Granny has read more books than anyone I‘ve ever met, her entire library is spread over 3 delightful abodes - with a book for anyone at anytime (I‘m currently reading Noble House by James Clavell, see what I mean?)… The antiques present are true representations of American history: different tools and instruments giving you a visual understanding of the chronological order of life in America. Flags, signs, rugs, light fixtures, pictures, glass eye washes, heated bed warmers, all sorts of things that that instill the history, feelings and everyday life of America. Of how young it is compared to Europe, or different it is from the rest of the world - but still unbelievably awing..

Running down the path through the brush to your own personal dock and link to the sea when you first get there is awesome, often leaving you lightheaded… your lungs haven't enjoyed air this clean in so long that your brain does a little jiggle cause the oxygen is so good... the water, I don't have to tell you is cold, very very cold - It‘s the Atlantic Ocean, what do you expect… Dive in and swim back to the dock to let your heart get over the shock of that freezing water.. and then dive in again. Cannonballs and Jacknifes into the water work just as well... Talk about jumpstarting your heart.. you can feel the icy cold water keep your lungs fresh and your heart pounding (but a very healthy pounding)… There’s a little dingy with a little-engine-that-can and would probably just take you to the islands out in the distance where you can see the Puffins. 3 tiny uninhabited islands within rowing distance, with one of them home to an old wooden fort with rope ladders and all.. Great Pirate Rumbistifications relived once more.

Year after year, Leah and I have trekked up from Boston to enjoy our solitude in this beautiful place. strolls in different coastal towns - dinner on the dock with the sunset - getting sick from too much butter on our lobsters - enjoying your coffee on the porch and enjoying the Ocean view - heading to the beach - cooking our meals together - sun worshipping on the dock - Moody’s Diner - getting pushed into the water - watching the dog go nuts in the open - chain-sawing the hell out of an old picnic table - fishing - tin roofs and rainy days - just a place to be alone together… heavenly…

Country Folk Versus City Folk
People’s attitudes are completely different in the country… There’s a sense of trust and honor… Take my German Pie Lady for example.. She lives on Waldoboro Road and has a little bake stand outside her house where she has homemade pies, cakes, breads, cookies, and fresh eggs for sale everyday - and there’s no cashier, no till, no one to make sure you‘re paying the right amount, just a slot for you to put your money in and it’s all based on the honor system… I thought this was the most incredible thing I had ever seen, well until someone pointed out that her husband could very well be waiting in the window chugging his 6 pack and loading his shotgun to shoot anyone who didn‘t pay… That said, it’s thanks to my German Pie Lady that I’ve gotten turned on Blueberry Pie - in a very serious fatal attraction kind of way… thank you German Pie Lady…

Those extremely rough and tough lobster fishermen and Haggard-y Sea Captains keep excellent conversation over a single malt or a pint of whatevers yer pouring at the local. The people here are much friendlier than i had expected..

Wilderness Survival Instincts
Whatever skills or talents you have acquired to survive an urban jungle are worthless in the country… A bat once managed to escape into the house through the rafters and made its way for my bushy bird’s nest hair… After a quick panic attack and images of the bat going straight for my neck, Leah and I came up with an elaborate scheme involving a piece of string, a bowling ball, a match, a bottle rocket, a fisherman‘s hat, a paper bag, some cheese, and a shotgun.. Just before our far fetched plan was executed, she gets an anxiety attack and I’m left in the room with a bat flying circles around my head. I did what any neurotic city person would have done: I grabbed whatever resembled a racket and tried to whack the bat through the sliding doors and out of the cottage - returning service style… The attempt worked and the bat was sent back to the wilderness without receiving a single whack - directed him out quite peacefully.. (After our incident, a bat house was put up and we’ve had no problems since)…

You’ve got to be on your toes when you‘re not in your element: quickly learning to distinguish Poison Ivy from the herb garden variety - learning how to start up a gas grill with nothing but a piece of twig, and 4 gallons of paint thinner - learning it is always best to check with the authorities if it's red tide and if it’s ok to cook n eat the mussels that just wash up on your shore - how to properly apply and reapply insect repellent..

I'm just saying that there's a lot you can learn from mother nature - unfortunately, a lot of it happens through trial and error - unless you were a boyscout or even remembered anything about being a boyscout...

Meeting all things that move
The beauty of putting yourself in a different environment, you get to meet the many other animals that live with you… It’s like living in your own little nature reserve with all sorts of different birds, beavers at the pond, a red tail fox, snapping turtles, turkeys, dragonflies, insects, spiders, and all sorts of creepy crawlies, dogs, bats, fish, and humming birds…

meeting a hummingbird face to face is a pretty cool experience… because they flap their wings so quickly they can hover right across from you, letting you get a really good look at them in mid-air.. They just come out of nowhere, surprising you and making it an encounter where you feel the need to introduce yourself and say something like: “hello, my name is banzo.” (does it ever make sense?).

Insects and me do not get along… I really don’t know why, it’s not like I want to kill them, but they always come to bite me… and I really don’t know what it is with my blood, maybe it tastes like a ‘95 Valandraud Saint-Emilion, but these bugs just get a kick out of me plasma.. It’s a constant battle with the insect repellent - I’ve tried everything, I’ve been made invisible to bugs, made impervious to bug bites, unappealing to them, tried to keep them off with super quiet sonic waves, I've even considered taking the juice from dead bugs and rubbing it all over my body: warding them off as a walking cemetary for bugs - but I still manage to get at least 3-5 bites.. I wouldn’t mind the bites if they didn’t swell up into little welts… one time outside, I was grilling up some meat and exposing my feet wearing flip flops - I felt a little bite on my toe and just shrugged it off in a “I feel no pain“ manly fashion - three hours later, the venom from the spider bite makes my big toe swell up to the size of a mini kiwi - ridiculous - I couldn’t get my foot into my sneaker till the swelling came down…


In Closing..
Pulling yourself out of civilization for a while - spending time with your loved one but still enjoying solitude and peace is a real vacation… After spending all this time in beautiful and tranquil Maine - it’s time to rock the city…

4 comments:

Hasan said...

Hey buddy,

Sounds like absolute magic. I really hope you have a wonderful holiday. Take care and keep us posted.

Hasan in Tokyo

Bonsaimarks said...

And to think you passed up Patriots tickets for this?????????

Desert Island Boy said...

Nothing like Bats in the Belfry and Ants in your Pants!

Here's to a safe return to civilization!

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