Yesterday our next door neighbor brought us a very Maine gift — four freshly caught lobsters– and last night we cooked lobsters at home for the first time. It’s not difficult.
First, find a big pot with a lid and fill it about halfway with water. We had bought a big pot at a yard sale that was perfect, so we were set on that front. Second, add some salt to the water. Third, toss in the lobsters and turn on the heat. (This isn’t easy to do — or at least, it wasn’t easy for me. But if you want freshly cooked lobster, you can’t be squeamish. That’s where having a pot with a lid is helpful.) When the water finally heats up to a boil, give the lobsters another 10 minutes and you’re ready to fish them out of the pot.
The lobsters came out bright red and succulent– just like you’d get from a local restaurant. They were delicious.
Now that we’re no longer lobster virgins, we’ll have to try steaming some clams next, so we can treat our guests to a “shore dinner.”
Yesterday we took the New Grandparents to Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies, to show off the uniques sculptures displayed there. The sculptures are the work of Peter Beerits, who has mastered the process of turning ordinary old stuff — some might say “junk” — into interesting artwork. An old metal object, a few prices of wood for legs and a head, and a curlicue metal tail, for example, and you’ve got a pretty convincing pig.
Beerits has used the flotsam and jetsam of America from days gone by to construct Nellieville, a town that combines elements of the Old West, the early 20th century, and rural scenes and random animals. Banjo players, Wild Bill Hickok, outhouse users, lawyers, and barkeepers exist cheek by jowl in structures that are packed with all kinds of interesting old stuff. The rest is a bizarre and fascinating vision where there is a surprise around every corner.
Oh, yeah — Nervous Nellie’s jams and jellies are very good, too.
The old saying is that “all politics is local.” We’ve seen some very tangible evidence of the truth of that saying here in Stonington, Maine.
Last night there was a public hearing at the Stonington Town Hall about food trucks. It’s a hot issue here for the small business owners. There’s a limited “summer season” in Stonington when local businesses hope to sell their wares to tourists and visitors enjoying the sunny but not-too-hot weather, and also a limited amount of four-hour on-street parking in the “downtown” area that those tourists and visitors can use. Business owners are concerned that food trucks can come and use those precious spots for the full four hours, potentially making parking a challenge and causing a visitor to pass their business by. And the restaurants, all of which are locally owned businesses, aren’t happy with the idea of food trucks swooping in and taking away customers.
Stonington doesn’t have an ordinance governing food trucks. Should there be one, and if so what should it say? Last night the town’s Board of Selectmen heard from the public on the issues, and now they’ll decide.
And sometimes the politics is even more local — specifically, about one person with a piece of cardboard and a magic marker. The sign below was posted on a telephone pole just at the eastern entrance to the downtown area. Not knowing anything about the “whale rules” that the sign mentioned, I did a Google search and learned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has promulgated a proposed rule to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale. NOAA believes that the whales are at risk of death or injury from entanglement in the many buoy lines that connect lobster traps on the ocean floor to their buoy markers on the surface, The new proposed rule would require Maine lobstermen to remove half of their vertical buoy lines in the water — which means directly reducing the potential catch. In a town like Stonington, where many people are self-employed in the lobster industry, that’s a federal rule that could potentially have an enormous and direct impact on the town. Public hearings on the rule will begin soon, and Maine’s congressional delegation has appealed to President Trump to quash the proposed rule. They argue that there really isn’t evidence that the lobster buoy lines are responsible for the decline in the right whale population.
That hand-lettered sign just outside of town got my attention, and made me look into an issue that i wasn’t aware of before. It just shows the impact of a little local politicking.
There are worse ways to spend a Sunday night than with some fresh lobster and a cold cocktail. Then again, you could say the same thing with respect to every other night of the week. Or for that matter, with respect to beer, wine, or a glass of lukewarm water.
Fresh lobster goes pretty well with everything, now that I think of it.
We’re fog-bound this morning. The thick fog crept in like a living thing, blanketing the harbor, oozing up the hillside, and invading every nook and cranny to the point where even our neighbor’s house was rendered distant and indistinct through the foggy wisps.
I like the fog because it’s a tangible reminder that we’re in a seaside community. I also like the cool spritz on the skin that the fog brings. But I can understand why the lobstermen hate it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be out on the water with this grey haze shrouding the normal landmarks, without knowing what rocky outcropping or boat might be lurking nearby. It’s one reason why lobstering is a dangerous, tough business.
Lupines are found throughout Downeast Maine. They are beautiful and easily identifiable through their pine cone-shaped flowers and circular leaves. Even better, they grow anywhere and everywhere and require about as much care and feeding as your average weed.
If you come to Maine in June and early July you’re bound to see lupines in bloom. These beauties are in the driveway next to our cottage.