Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Farewell To Winter

"The snow is gone and it's not coming back," a baker at the farmers market told me recently. Impressed by his beard and suspenders, I took his word as gospel. The rivers are humming with water from a mild winter's snow. Dead set on maximizing their lawns, Mainers are raking up gravel and sand deposited by the county's army of plows.

I live in a shanty in a shanty town.

Signs warning of thin ice pepper the edges of lakes as open water slowly gains confidence around the perimeter and then spreads towards the center like kids at a middle school dance.

Tucker reading out on the ice on one of the last days of winter.

For Sale by Owner.

As you read this I will be in Nicaragua, playing in 85 degree water like a seven year old at Chuck E. Cheese.

Protecting a Mainer's back yard, these ice shanties won't see redeployment for another nine months.

Things weather fast here.

Chirping birds in the morning are bitter sweet. I will miss the reality of Maine winters that shatters the romantic ideals of snowball fights and warming up by the fireplace, but at the same time makes the bonds to seasons more long lasting and genuine. All good things must come to an end, and, like my time in Maine, a new opportunity is here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Maine's Largest General Store

The sign says it all: Guns, Wedding Gowns and Cold Beer. Located on ME 32 fifteen miles east of Augusta, the Hussey's General Store provides central Mainers with all things required for life in Maine. Open for business for 87 years, the store has changed little in the face of competition from chain stores like Walmart.

Many times on my journeys throughout Maine I have stopped by Hussey's to poke around the store's 30,000 square feet of retail space. Sometimes I buy venison sausage, other times I chat with the sporting goods salesmen, and occasionally I frantically search the store's countless aisles for a restroom sign. The sheer texture of the store and its juxtaposing goods always catch my eye regardless of my reason of stopping by.

The tools have changed, but the story hasn't.

Wedding Gowns...

Cold Beers... PBR long necks are as rare as stores like these.



Vintage military canteens and leather shoelaces.

Every color of the rainbow.

All the Carhartts you could ever want.
Just in case you have enough lamps to necessitate gallons of kerosene.

Do you feel lucky?


Hussey's has a great selection of Emerson of Maine Boots.
I couldn't think of a better place to buy the supplies for a shotgun wedding. The guns and the gowns are literally 30 feet apart.

Anyone visiting Maine should make the trek to the Hussey's General Store. They are a dying breed and as much a part of Maine as Bean boots and lobster fishing.

Here are some more links,
Hussey's General Store (Picasa),
Hussey's General Store.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gluttony by the Campfire

Months of brutally cold nights starting at 4 pm make you appreciate lengthening days and warming temperatures with the same fervor as seeing your special lady friend, or special man friend, for the first time in months. In this case, I hadn't seen warm evenings in five months and took to the opportunity of spending time with close friends and grilling meats like an aging Trustifarian to a Ralph Nader book signing. Needless to say I was excited.

On Friday afternoon we stocked up at the local supermarket with the essentials: a few bottles of wine, sausages, rum and ginger beer, ground bison, chips, various hot condiments, chicken breasts, zucchinis and some Coors lattes, and headed to Tucker's house in Belgrade Lakes for an evening of gluttony by the campfire.

Kick starting spring one dark and storm at a time.

Zucchini and olive oil and chicken and ginger sauce.

As the sun crept below the horizon, we fed the fire and enjoyed the fruits of the grill. The last rays of light hit clouds coming off the coast, giving everything a pinkish hue. Conversations meandered from place to place like a group of unaccompanied ten-year-olds at a summer carnival.

Illuminating the grill with fire light.

Tending the grill.

Despite flirting with the mid 40's during the day, the temperature dropped well below freezing after sunset making the fire much more than an aesthetic contribution to the evening's festivities.

A taste of the Rockies on the lakes of Maine.

Grilling greed: premature consumption of burger or other meat that requires further cooking.

Lubricated by pounds of meat and a few beverages, we watched for occasional shooting stars, cussed about girls, whittled sticks and went on various outings in search of firewood. Our numbers faded as one member of the half circle surrounding the fire pit after another left for the comfort of bed and the promise of the next day's activities.

Here are some more links,
Gluttony by the Campfire (Picasa),
By the Campfire (Picasa),
BBQ from the South (ART).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Surfing in 38 Degree Water

With the limited dexterity afforded by 3 mm neoprene mittens, I pull the hood of my wet suit over my head and gingerly run into the knee-high whitewater. The first bite of the 38° water seeps through a hole in my left booty. I keep wading as the cold water circulates around my foot and slowly warms.

Brown peppers the whitewater as an overhead wave crashes in four feet of water. In an act of desperation, I try to jump over the wave but am swept off my feet. Searing cold stings the small circle of exposed skin around my eyes and mouth as I hit the water and struggle to hold onto my board. I quickly regain my footing, take one step, jump onto my board and start paddling with purpose in the brief window between waves.

Dan observing a point break at high tide through a pair of vintage Vuarnets.

Focusing on each pull of my stroke, I paddle out of the last of the whitewater. Through the thick neoprene of my hood I hear Dan excitedly shriek, "Set," and dig deep like a terrorist in the mountains Pakistan. (For those unfamiliar with the proper nomenclature, set refers to a series of abnormally large waves.) Spitting saltwater on my board, I look up and see the the shadows of wave gaining shape. Four strokes, I have four strokes before I dive under the wave, I tell myself as I turn it up to 11. Three strokes later, I look up to see a wave cresting and immediately kick with my left foot to steer me towards the remaining smooth section of the wave.

Cresting the wave, my sense of accomplishment evaporates as I see a wall charging towards me like a drunk 20 year old girl towards an unclaimed box of pizza. Realizing my chances of making it over the looming wave are as slim as my chances of being a professional lineman, I ditch my board and swim towards the sand. The wave breaks over me with a hollow crash and I tumble around like the marble in spray paint can. Clenching my nose and eyes, I wait for the buoyant 5 mm wet suit to pull me to the surface.

Gasping for air, I pull my board in by the leash and regain my bearings. With no imminent waves in sight, I breath a sigh of relief and paddle out towards Dan sitting some twenty yards away.

"That last one looked fun..." Dan said.

"What did you say?" I ask as I catch my breath and slide onto a sitting position on my board.

"You got pwned by the last wave," he yells as he scans the horizon for sets of incoming waves.

For the next forty minutes we swim in the frigid water, catching the large sets and chatting the way two content friends do whilst enjoying a mutual pastime. The occasional Mainer walks by, stops for an instant, shakes their head with a chuckle and continues down the deserted Maine beach.

The hole in my left booty and right glove eventually gets the better of me and I bid farewell to Dan and paddle in. Immediately after leaving the water, the sun warms my black suit and I run to the car to change and grab my camera.

I will always remember the solitude and excitement of surfing in 38° water on beach breaks along the Maine Coast.

Here are some more links,
Surfing in 38 Degree Water (Picasa).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Out of Reception: Oregon In Maine

Reluctantly, the snow and ice receded, exposing dead grass and last fall's leaves. Occasionally, wet flurries peppered the recovering landscape but never had the wherewithal to stay until the next day. I pulled shorts from the depths of my dresser for the first time in five months and braved the lower 40's with the same boldness as a 13 year old trying his first beer. Normally this pioneer spirit comes in the first week of April, not the last week of February.

Over the last few weeks, the surprise of a few unseasonably warm days gained momentum, ushering in spring in a fashion more resembling March in Oregon than Maine. Unfazed by the rain and threat of flooding, I ventured into the freshly exposed Maine countryside with the kind of excitement only found in springtime carrying my Iphone 3GS.

Sunset at Popham State Park, outside of Bath.

A coastal inlet in Reid State Park.

A hazy day at Popham Beach.

Marshland near Phippsburg.

A failed winters storm's lingering waves.

Rocks at Owl's Head State Park.

Milk glasses in an antique store.

Heading north in Phippsburg.

I will miss my Eddie Bauer down jacket and my Woolrich Hunting gloves, but seasons change and the snow leaves. I am so glad spring's here.

I took all of these photos on my iPhone 3GS and used the Colorcross Filter from Camerabag.