There are some fine walking paths and hiking trails on Deer Isle and Little Deer Isle. Yesterday we decided to try the Dunham Loop, which follows country roads that circle Dunham Point. It’s a popular stroll that is about three miles long. Yesterday some of the fellow travelers on the Loop included two mothers pushing strollers and three young people who were using rolling skis to get in some summer training for the winter cross-country skiing season.
The Dunham Loop gives you a taste of some of the varied sights Deer Isle has to offer. After you park your car you follow the road past a small marina and dock, and then bear right into the woods, where you get to breathe deep the tangy piney scent of some of the towering trees and enjoy the deep shade. Along the way, from time to time, you catch a glimpse of the rocky coastline and the water through foliage.
The road then emerges from the wooded area into an open area where the water and hills are visible on the horizon, down across rolling pastures and pine trees along the shoreline. This is an area of beautiful old farmhouses and barns — one of which had an antique pickup truck parked in front, to complete the image. After the forest, you’re exposed to the bright sunshine, and it feels like there’s lot of elbow room.
Another right turn — on the Dunham Loop, you’re like a NASCAR driver in reverse — and you head up another country road to see more pretty homes, and a pond with lily pads and a croaking bullfrog. The road dips and rises, and it”s so quiet you can hear the cross-country skiiers clattering in the distance behind you. It’s almost a surprise when a car passes by.
Another right turn, and you’re back on the road toward the harbor and the boats. There are kids playing with dogs at one of the houses you pass, where a mother holding a baby is filling an above-ground pool with water. The road moves downward and ends at a pebbled beach dusted with oyster and mussel shells and a boat-filled vista overlooking some of the neighboring islands. The Loop has been completed, and it has been a wonderfully simple and pleasant journey indeed.
Stonington puts on a terrific fireworks show to commemorate Independence Day. They shoot off the fireworks from somewhere in the harbor, and you can see the display for miles. Not bad for a small seaside community at the end of Deer Isle!
It’s not easy taking photos of a fireworks show with an iPhone, by the way.
During an earlier visit to Deer Isle, one of the locals told us that a restaurant was “way the heck over in Goose Cove” — as if Goose Cove was as far away as Mars. The comment made us laugh, but it also made us wonder: just how the heck far away is Goose Cove, anyhow?
Tonight we found out. Goose Cove is about a 10-minute drive on winding two-lane roads. I guess when you live on a little island, everything seems far away. Goose Cove also is a pretty, tranquil place. It’s not hard to see why the geese like it.
We’re having new siding put up on our cottage in Stonington, Maine. The contractor is using something called cedar shake shingles for the exterior. It looks good, in that classic, rambling, soon-to-be-extremely-weathered Maine seaside fashion, but it’s also got a heavenly woody scent. Our little place is crammed with boxes of the “cedar shake” and is therefore utterly discombobulated, but it sure smells good.
Sometimes food immediately orients you to time and place. A steaming hot dog slathered with Stadium Mustard says you’re at the ballpark. Salt water taffy tells me I’m at the Jersey shore. And a lobster roll, French fries, and a Diet Coke from The Fishnet in Blue Hill scream “Maine”!
All over coastal Maine, the lobstermen are hard at work. Even though it’s the de facto off-season, when lobsters are inactive and the fishing is at a lull, there are boats to be examined and rekitted, motors to be tuned, and traps to be cleaned and tested. The smell of paint is in the air.
Our lobsterman neighbor worked all day yesterday on his gear, getting ready for the day when the boat goes back into the water and the traps and their identification buoys are placed in the old, familiar spots. The life of a lobsterman is not an easy one.
But all of my experience with flowers is Ohio-centric, from having a sense about the kind of flowers that seem to do well here, like the zinnias I planted at our old house, right down to following Mom’s admonition that you shouldn’t plant flowers until after Mothers’ Day. I’m guessing that a different rule of thumb would apply in a different climate, like Maine, where the weather might not really warm up until well into June. Drawing exclusively upon midwestern Ohio experiences and trying to apply them to a rocky northern coastal area that is constantly exposed to salty air and experiences periodic nor’easter storms seems ill-advised.
So, a question for the expert gardeners out there: if you want to learn about gardening practices in Maine, or any other new location, where should you go? Is there an authoritative guidebook or website that provides information by region and can get into detail about the basics, like the native plant life, the safe time to plant flowers and which ones are most likely to thrive given the climate and soil conditions, whether planting seeds or seedlings is the best course, and whether particular kinds of grasses or shrubs are more prone to succeed or fail than others? Can you trust the folks at the local hardware store or gardening shop to only offer plants that have reasonable prospects for success given the local conditions, or is that approach doomed to failure?
I feel like a newbie here, and I’m not sure that doing random internet searches and trusting to the Google Gods is the best way to go about gathering information.