The Maine
An artful dialogue about the wonders of the state.

We All Have Our Reasons: #83

photograph by Linda Zeigler

I walked through the woods to watch them. I felt their peace and remembered to breathe in my own.Grazing peacefully as the afternoon glides toward evening

Grazing peacefully as the afternoon glides toward evening.
I walked through the woods to watch them.
I felt their peace and remembered to breathe in my own.

Will’s Gut

photographs and text by Brett Klein for The American Guide

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WILL’S GUT – Harpswell, Maine

There is something in you that tells you where you belong… it’s your gut. My wife and I returned to our native state of Maine recently to escape an emotional roller coaster, which is trying to sell a 2-bedroom house in a Connecticut community that will only tolerate a 3-bedroom home. Replacing a septic tank and a rotted, termite-infested beam has to date not been enough to extract ourselves from these circumstances.

Without a lot of planning we ended up on Orr’s Island, which is connected to Bailey Island by their historic Cribstone Bridge, the only one of it’s kind in the world. For a long time the residents of Bailey Island pleaded with their town of Harpswell to build a bridge connecting their island to Orr’s. Since 1892 the town continually turned down their request until a bridge was finally built in 1928.

Design of the bridge was complicated because of the powerful tides surging back and forth between what’s known as Will’s Gut. They decided to build their unique crib-stone bridge with 10,000 tons of giant granite slabs quarried between Yarmouth and Pownal. The stone slabs were considered heavy enough to withstand wind and wave while the open cribbing allowed the ebb and flow of water without increasing tidal pressure.

Besides that, there is not a lot of robust island history to mention, outside of change of title. And maybe that’s its charm… its simplicity – its lack of human imprint. I imagine the locals have plenty of lore to share, but for a community this small there was little I could dig up while I was there besides a simple listing of families and relatives that had originally settled there.

After the earliest European settlers in the 1600s, the first settler was William Black aka Black Will, a freed slave from Kittery, Maine who moved across Will’s Gut to what was then known as Newaggin Island (named by the Abenaki Indians), in 1727. It then became Will’s Island and the most colorful part of the island’s history is perhaps that Will purportedly sold his island to Reverend Timothy Bailey in 1742 for one pound of tobacco and a gallon of rum. Will moved back to Orr’s and from then on Will’s Island became Bailey Island to this day.

I spent intermittent time on these islands as a young kid sightseeing with my family and later as a restless teen escaping my nearby hometown of Brunswick, and ultimately getting arrested with a friend by the lone sheriff policing Harpswell. My post-prom party took place in an old buddy’s house here, and prior to that we’d often drive the roughly 10 mile stretch from Brunswick down to these islands to park the car and inconspicuously walk through the sloped, pine-laden woods to the shoreline, where we’d sit on rock ledges and sip beer while we watched the fishermen come back to port with occasional seals trailing them. The thick pinewoods were like a dark loden blanket shielding our backs.

Back then we were escaping the pressures of high school and teen-life. This past weekend I was attempting escape of real life, so I dragged my wife down through the same pine-thick woods to the same rocky ledges and we watched nothing but the bluest sea rise up while the sun fell down. These brine-weathered islands were an escape back then and a Godsend now. I could use a gallon of rum while I await our return to Maine, but I’d never trade a single acre of this state for anything.

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The American Guide is a revival of the Depression-era guidebook series by the same name. It’s part archive curation from back in the day, part documentary travel in the here and now. It’s here to keep a state by state record of an America coming out of the Great Recession and beyond: to document people and places both pretty and hard because, all things being equal, that’s what makes America, America. Editor Brett Klein is also AG’s guide to Maine. See his websiteTumblr and Instagram for more of his work.

Former Florida Man

overheard in portland

Older lady, to group of people at bus stop:
“Well, I lived in Florida once, and I wasn’t so crazy about it…”

Older man, interrupting loudly:
“I lived in Florida for two years, and I hated every single minute of it!”

(Overheard at the bus stop in front of the Back Cove Hannaford)

Another Day In June

paintings and text by Ingrid Ellison

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stranded in the studio
chasing an idea that has been percolating for months
beginning with one novel: We the Drowned
and ending with another: Moby Dick
in between there were a lot of experiments
false starts and drawings
of waves and nets and shipwrecks
of night skies and cast lines
of floating and being swept to shore
works in progress
its all paint and pencil
brush and line and color

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How To Make A Sign

with Megan Lillie at The Carpenter’s Boat Shop
photographs by Jonathan Ives

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Tuesday 207: Tidal Treasure

painting by Jessica Ives

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“[…] it is a strange thing that most of the feeling we call religious, most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most prized and used and desired reactions of our species, is really the understanding and the attempt to say that man is related to the whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known and unknowable. This is a simple thing to say, but the profound feeling of it made a Jesus, a St. Augustine, a St. Francis, a Roger Bacon, a Charles Darwin, and an Einstein. Each of them in his own tempo and with his own voice discovered and reaffirmed with astonishment the knowledge that all things are one thing and that one thing is all things—plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”

— John Steinbeck in The Log From The Sea Of Cortez

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207 Paintings post every-ish Tuesday around 5:30am EST on both The Maine and jessicaleeives.comSave thirty percent on any 4×4 inch oil on panel painting by making your purchase within the first week of its posting. Instead of $300 pay just $207, a number which just happens to be the Maine state area code.

Tuesday 207 paintings are exclusive to The Maine. They depict the land, the light and the people that make this state a state of wonder. Jessica is editor of The Maine and writes occasionally as The Outsider.

Coast Walk 2 Still Life

photographs and text by Jennifer Steen Booher

Coast Walk 2: from the Town Beach to Cromwell Harbor; January 6-10, 2015

From left to right, top to bottom:

Hovering above: plastic ring, sea glass

Row 1: young Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis), Northern Rock Barnacle (Semibalanus balanoides), more mussels

Row 2: granite beach stone, Corallina officinalis, plastic marker cap, driftwood, Dog Whelks (Nucella lapillus)

Row 3: sea glass, fish eggs (dried out now but there’s a photo of them fresh in the CW2 blog post), sea glass, more mussels (not sure if they’re Blue or Horse Mussels), acorn (probably Quercus rubra), beach stone, mussels

Row4: Dog whelk, more mussels, Rough Periwinkles (Littorina saxatilis)

Row 5: Seaweed attached to barnacle, Smooth Periwinkles (Littorina obtusata), sea glass, plastic thingy (I think it’s from a glow stick), beach stone

Row 6: Rough Periwinkles, granite beach stone, sea glass, mussels

Row 7: Dog whelks, Horse Mussel (Modiolus modiolus)

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The full Coast Walk Project description is right here, but in a nutshell, I plan to walk all the way around the shoreline of Mount Desert Island. I’m inviting lots of people to join me to talk about their interest in the shoreline, whether it’s human history, marine biology, tourism, birds, fishing, eel grass, geology, just about everything – and I’ll be posting those interviews as I go. I’ll also be producing a still life photo for each walk. If you’d like to join me, I can’t wait to hear what you have to share! Use the Contact tab on my project site to set that up – tell me which section of the shore you’re interested in, and have a look at the Permission Slips tab, too.

Wish me luck, and decent weather!
Hope to see you on the shore,

Jenn

Back to the beach

photographs by Jim Dugan
who has been photographing the same beach for over 20 years.

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Maine Farmland Trust