Lake Living summer 2021

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FREE summer 2021 • vol. 24, no. 1

Conservation Collaboration plus

a sense of space water’s future from earth to the moon summer bookshelf


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editor’s note

Editor & Publisher Laurie LaMountain Staff Writer Leigh Macmillen Hayes Contributing Photographers Cait Bourgault, Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, Maine Virtual Home Tours, Jerry Monkman, Marguerite Wiser Contributing Writer Marguerite Wiser Graphic Designer Dianne Lewis Proofreader/Copy Editor Leigh Macmillen Hayes Lake Living is published quarterly by Almanac Graphics, Inc., 625 Rocky Knoll Rd, Denmark, ME 04022 207-452-8005. www.lakelivingmaine. com e-mail: ©2021. All rights reserved. Contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher. Annual subscriptions are available by sending check or money order for $20 to the above address.


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10 8 conservation


by leigh macmillen hayes

10 a sense of space

by laurie lamountain

14 water’s future

by laurie lamountain

16 from earth to the moon

by leigh macmillen hayes

cover photo C ait Bourgault

26 20 summer living

by leigh macmillen hayes

24 eat what you sow

by marguerite wiser

26 the bag lady

by leigh macmillen hayes

28 summer bookshelf

reviews from bridgton books

32 l’apéritif

by laurie lamountain

j . scovil

summer 2021 • vol. 24, no. 1

jerry monkman/

When I named this publication Lake Living, it was meant more to place it than to define it. Twenty-four years later, it’s clear that lakes are so much more than a geographical feature of our region—they are the reservoirs of its most precious and defining element: water. At a little more than 64 square miles in total area, Bridgton has 7.45 square miles of water. Naples has a total area of 37.25 square miles, of which 5.43 square miles is water. Casco, with a total area of 38.01 square miles has a whopping 6.7 square miles of water. Suffice to say that we live in a very watery corner of the country. For some of us, however, the past six years have challenged that assumption. Listening to more frequent Maine Public reports of drought and high winds fueling wildfires in the West is both devastating and reassuring. Our hearts go out to those who have lost everything they own in a matter of minutes, but thankfully it can’t happen here, right? When the Hoover Dam was completed in 1936, no one could have conceived of the Colorado River’s current conditions. What was once a mighty river has been tapped to a perilous point. And it’s not due to increased need (consumption has actually gone down in many areas) as much as it is to climate change—the one thing from which none of us is exempt. It’s been said that the time to react to a problem is before it becomes one. We can’t reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet, but we have the power to react to what further threatens it. In truth, our lives depend on it. Laurie LaMountain

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by leigh macmillen hayes “


hanks to the forests that naturally filter the water that flows into [Sebago Lake], the Portland Water District has a waiver from filtration from the EPA, meaning the water does not have to be filtered before treatment, a designation granted to only about 50 water supplies in the country. This pristine water resource provides the drinking water for almost 20% of Maine’s population—200,000 people in eleven towns.” When most of us think of Sebago Lake, we think of recreation, but since Thanksgiving Day 1869, when the first pipeline from the lake to Portland was completed, it has served as a drinking water supply to the city and beyond. According to Portland Water District’s website, “The Portland Water District (PWD) is a quasi-municipal organization chartered by the Maine Legislature . . . Trustees are elected from geographic areas designed to provide representation proportionate to the population of PWD’s service area. The Board of Trustees is the governing body of PWD. Much like a city council, the Board adopts a budget; approves the rates and charges for public services; establishes District-wide policies and plans, and appoints a general manager to administer the affairs of the organization.” The key factor to being one of the cleanest drinking water utilities in the country is due to the low level of development in the watershed. A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to streams, brooks, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as Sebago Lake.


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In the lakes region, which is part of the Sebago Lake watershed, we have intact forests that filter the water naturally. But, as Hadley Couraud, who works for both Western Foothills Land Trust and Loon Echo Land Trust as Sebago Clean Waters Conservation Coordinator, says, “Over 84% of the land is forested, but only 11% is conserved in perpetuity. To ensure that the forests themselves can keep filtering the water, we need to permanently conserve more of those forests.” Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) has been in the making since 2000. In those early years, PWD and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership contributed funding to land trust conservation projects to protect land in the watershed, with Lake’s Environmental Association’s Holt Pond, which is under a conservation easement with Loon Echo Land Trust, being one of the early projects they helped fund. Karen Young, Coalition Coordinator of Sebago Clean Waters, says, “That was significant because it was the first time Portland Water District formally recognized that the work that the land trusts were doing was important to protecting the water quality of Sebago Lake. By 2013, PWD established a funding program to provide grants to conservation organizations working in the watershed. In 2015, The Nature Conservancy led an action plan for Crooked River, the largest tributary to Sebago Lake, which features valuable ecological habitat and is extremely important for water quality because it provides about 20% of the water that flows into the lake. That project involved a number of

jerry monkman/

Conservation Collaboration

players including those who today are part of Sebago Clean Waters. SCW officially formed in 2017 as a collaborative effort of organizations and a regional water utility (PWD) that combine their resources, expertise, and experience to increase the pace of forest conservation in the watershed. The coalition brings together different organizations for the purpose of sharing complementary skillsets and abilities, thus increasing the capacity and efficiency of all. The intention is that where smaller organizations like local land trusts and watershed associations vie for the same dollars, as a coalition they can compete at a much more national or even global scale for funding to align their efforts in targeted places selected using data and modeling—places where they can have a real impact on water quality. Smaller groups such as the local land trusts and Lakes Environmental Association bring relationships and expertise of local communities to the table. Larger entities such as Portland Water District, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Highstead Foundation, Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land provide increased technical capacity and help with garnering funds at that much larger scale. The goal of Sebago Clean Waters is to conserve 25 percent (35,000 more acres) of the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years. To enable these conservation efforts, SCW plans to raise significant funding from public and private sources. As a group, the coalition consists of three legs on a stool—science and conservation; communication; and financing; with techni-

needs and values of the community. As Hadley explains, some people don’t think about conserving their property because either they’re not worried about legacy or they don’t need the additional tax break. In some instances, there are large parcels owned by multiple generations of timber harvesters who have never thought about conservation before and wouldn’t be interested in donating an easement or selling the property. Let’s be honest, protecting cherished property can be financially and legally complicated. But, this is where the benefits of being part of SCW as a larger regional organization become apparent. Sebago Clean Waters has the capacity to raise funds, thus allowing the local land trusts to go to land owners and rather than ask for a land donation or sale of it, can instead offer to pay for the conservation easement. With an easement, you as the landowner continue to own the land, though it is protected from development in perpetuity, and you don’t have to use your money for any legal fees and paper work. Recently, the group was awarded an $8 million grant from Natural Resources Conservation Services, which will leverage $10.5 million in a partner “...protecting forests is incredibly important for so many different match. These monies reasons: for water quality both in Sebago Lake and for downstream will pay for the easewater users, but also in the water supplies in the upstream watershed. ments as mentioned The forests are resources for so many reasons, supporting traditional above and help creways of living, for recreation, wildlife habitat, local economy, and as ate improved forest we’ve all realized due to the COVID pandemic, for our well-being.” management plans that include silviculture and climate resilience, as well as aquatic connectivity work, bridge or culvert work in various municipalities, aquatic invasive removal in Sebago Lake, and the launch of a forest carbon collaborative to get land trusts and conserved lands enrolled into carbon markets. This would mean owners of forested lands could be compensated for keeping it that way. So . . . how does one get the message out to those community members who live upstream, downstream, and on the lake? “For a long time,” Karen Young cal expertise thrown in as an extra support. A Steering Committee guides the coalition and includes representatives from each of the organizations. They split the work between an executive committee, lands committee, communications committee, water fund committee, and equity team. Using data sets that measure the impact of land on water quality, such as the geology of the soil, location of aquifers, slope of land, and combining that with biodiversity data such as wildlife habitat, locations of streams and wetlands, and climate resiliency helped provide an analysis that prioritized which parcels of land would contribute most to water quality. Says Hadley Couraud, “The intention has never been to protect every piece of land, but we do want to strategically select the most important lands for water quality as much as we can, aligned with community values.” In the end, though, the most important thing is what each landowner wants—the entire effort is voluntary. Even though there are larger regional goals in mind, the strength of SCW is that the participants understand land conservation consistently leads with land trusts since they have relationships and understand the

says, “we thought there were two different messages to share with the folks who lived upstream and downstream. I actually think they are two parts of the same message, which is that protecting forests is incredibly important for so many different reasons: for water quality both in Sebago Lake and for downstream water users, but also in the water supplies in the upstream watershed. The forests are resources for so many reasons, supporting traditional ways of living, for recreation, wildlife habitat, local economy, and as we’ve all realized due to the COVID pandemic, for our well-being.” Maggie Lynn, Loon Echo’s Development and Outreach Manager, adds, “Sometimes, what you lead with is different for downstream as well as upstream communities, but there’s also a third part of the audience, the Sebago Lake community. The upstream message is more about access, local water quality, and protecting these special places that people know and love, whereas downstream that’s all important but the people are not as connected to place even though they enjoy the spaces we protect.” In a recent survey, Loon Echo discovered that their membership values water quality/ climate change and wildlife habitat, which is the foundation of the land trust’s work. As Hadley says, “This demonstrates a shift in public awareness of water quality threats and climate change so whether we are looking at downstream or upstream or lake impacts, both are happening as a result of us working on both at the same time.” How can we help? Alanna Doughty, Educator and Milfoil Director at Lakes Environmental Association, offers this, “One of the best ways for involvement is to support local land trusts and LEA at the community level. If you care about the lake you live on or the land next to you, get involved with your local organizations because that is going to manifest the closest to home. By giving to them directly you are supporting land conservation and water quality testing. These organizations are not funding Sebago Clean Waters—in fact the reverse is true— but the staff and time capacity is growing as the need to establish and maintain more projects comes across the table and the coalition grows. On the other hand, if you live in or have a business in Portland, then you should support Sebago Clean Waters to help protect your water supply.”R Here’s the easiest way to reach them: Loon Echo Land Trust:

Western Foothills Land Trust: Mahoosuc Land Trust:

Lakes Environmental Association: Sebago Clean Waters:

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A Sense of Space by laurie lamountain photos courtesy of maine virtual home tours


nlike some of the architects approached by the owners for the reconstruction of a dwelling within spitting distance of a small pond in Sweden, Maine, John Cole was excited to take on challenges that state and local shoreland zoning restrictions imposed on the project. While all Maine towns are subject to the state’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Law regarding existing shoreland property expansion, they are allowed to adopt their own Shoreland Ordinances, as long as they are at least compliant with the state’s restrictions. In other words, some towns have regulations and restrictions that are even more stringent than the state’s. In all cases, the goal is to preserve and conserve the natural beauty of Maine’s shoreland areas by protecting them from harmful runoff and erosion. Following the original enactment of the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act in 1971, significant additions to the law were ad-


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opted in later amendments. An amendment made in January 1989 limited expansion of non-conforming structures (i.e. within 100’ of normal high water) to 30% of area or volume, whichever is less. Because calculating and regulating volume proved difficult, the state adopted a second amendment in July 1998. The second version is more restrictive and limits height and area in 25’ sections from high water line to 100’ feet back. Towns can base their ordinance on either version and many owners are surprised to find that their community has adopted the more restrictive second one. On top of that, interpretation of the Shoreland Ordinances is generally left up to the local code enforcement officers (CEOs) and they have wide latitude in so doing. Non-conforming or “grandfathered” structures built before January 1, 1989 within 100’ of the water line can be replaced or renovated, but in all cases their expan-

sion is restricted. An accurate survey is also needed to determine distance from the water and other potential limitations such as easements, wetlands and utility lines. “The key to a successful project,” says Cole “is to research the local ordinance and then sit down with the CEO to review his/her interpretation before starting detailed design.” The Sweden Shoreland Ordinance is based on the original state legislation allowing a 30% expansion by area or volume, whichever is less, provided that the nonconformity is not increased. To make things even trickier, the original structure for Cole’s project was on a small lot, sandwiched between the pond setback and a setback from the road, so technically expanding the floor area in either direction wasn’t an option. “There was, however, an exception in the ordinance which I discussed with the CEO for permission to add a stairwell on the road side to provide access to the available

volume expansion on a new second floor,” notes Cole. The last piece of the zoning puzzle was to track down documentation of various additions to establish that they were built prior to 1989 and therefore could be included in the base calculations for area and volume. When all was said and done, the allowable area for the replacement structure was 2,322.45 square feet and the allowable volume was 19,236 cubic feet. With the parameters in place, Cole’s next challenge was to accommodate the owners’ program for a four bedroom, three bath house with screen porch, mudroom, storage room, mechanical room and laundry. For the record, the new home contains 2,312 square feet—10 square feet less than the maximum allowed. I met with one of the owners on a chilly morning in early April, not long after the ice had gone out and the ducks had come in. I’ve never considered myself a “lake” person, but standing in the light-filled kitchen looking “up pond” made me get why so many people are drawn to waterfront. As we admired the view, she recalled, “The first time John came to the old house, he was funny, he sat here and he was like, ‘I want to lift the house up and I want to turn it like that,’ because your body just wants to go to the lake.” As she talked, she held her hands out in front of her and pivoted her body up pond. Because that wasn’t an option, Cole did the next best thing. Bump-out bays in the kitchen and living area not only achieve the effect by angling some of the windows to capture the view, but custom-cut Douglas fir braces tying into the timbers surrounding each bay serve to picture frame it. Erecting the bays on posts had the added advantage of keeping the volume down and allowing light into the bedrooms below. On the ceiling and gable ends, tongue and groove painted a high gloss white bounces the light and creates an airy openness in the flow of dining, kitchen and living areas. Even though it’s a fairly narrow galley kitchen, it feels much larger. Recessed lighting in the ceiling would have taken up valuable volume, so the solution was to run cable lighting between the beams. It wasn’t the owner’s first choice, but she admits that it works within the galley design. Cabinets were designed to make maximum use of space. The island serves as a prep and eat-in kitchen surface but the storage space below it is equally important, with a microwave oven discretely housed in one

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of the drawers. A built-in cabinet over the bar in the living room solves the problem of where to store glasses and barware, as well as housing a custom-made cigar humidor in one of the drawers. COVID provided an unlikely opportunity for the owners to test-drive their new home. Despite the fact that they had been vacationing in Maine for more than twenty years and bought the property a couple of years ago, they used the original house only on an occasional basis in summer and more often during winter ski season. The ranch was demolished in July of 2019 and Main Eco Homes (MEH) began construction immediately afterward. The owners are quick to credit MEH with running a tight crew and keeping to their timeline, only slightly extending beyond it due to changes they requested. Construction of the new house was completed in February 2020—just in time for the pandemic. Along with their three grown children, they ended up spending a lot of time in Maine this past year. As she walked me through it, the owner observed, “It’s funny. It’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so small.’ But we’ve been totally comfortable with everybody up here—even in the winter.”


None of the bedrooms are huge, but neither do they feel cramped. The fact that two of them don’t have closets no doubt lends to their spaciousness. As Cole pointed out about a camp he designed that was featured in an earlier issue of Lake Living, when you’re coming up for a weekend or a week at a time, you’re basically living out of your suitcase. Having the space to move around makes more sense than having closets that would largely go unused. To make up for it, there are hooks and pegs throughout the bedrooms, bathrooms and mudroom. Built-

in desks and window seats are other elements designed to save space and stow stuff. The owner’s mantra of “light and bright” was honored throughout. The open Douglas fir stairwell that connects all three floors not only cuts down on volume by being vertically contained in a bump out, it allows light into what would otherwise be a dark hallway leading to the second floor bedroom and bath. Lead Foreman Mike Ridlon points out that the open stringers really make the space feel a lot larger than it is because you can see through the stairwell,

especially with the windows behind. The attention to detail, including hand milling the handrails, transcends the practical by turning it into a stunning architectural element. The same can be said for the finish carpentry throughout the house, for which credit is due to Ridlon and fellow Master Carpenter Steve Whitney. Thanks to one of two impressive stone fireplaces constructed by Brian Bogdahn, the screened-in porch beyond the living room has proven itself a year-round space and the preferred gathering place to play board games in the evenings. The storage room at the foot of the stairs on the lower level is very functional, given that it’s the largest dedicated space for “stuff.” Winter gear gets stored there in summer and vice versa. The mechanical room features a space-saving, built-in compressor for inflatables. A large mudroom at the lower level entry provides another space to drop coats, boots and gear. Custom-made Douglas fir pegboards provide easy-access storage for skis and a wrap-around bench does double duty as storage bins. An outdoor shower that is plumbed into the septic system tucks neatly under the stairwell to the second-floor entry. The master suite on the third floor accounts for the biggest part of the 30% expansion. It’s a quiet treehouse-like haven to which the owners can escape and take in ever-changing views of the pond. It’s one thing to design and build a beautiful house, but to make it beautiful and functional requires vision, both spatial and practical. It also requires a thorough understanding of Shoreland Zone Laws, both state and local. There’s a good reason these laws exist, and regardless of whether it’s new construction, renovation, or landscaping, the complexities of shoreland zoning are not to be taken lightly. Consult your CEO about restrictions before you do any landscaping and, by all means, enlist the services of an architect and builder who know the regulations applicable to your town or are committed to researching them before you build or renovate. It could make the difference between avoiding a hefty fine or, worse case scenario, being ordered to tear down your structure for violation of Shoreland Zone laws. R For more information, visit Maine’s DEP website for the Bureau of Land and Water Quality at or call 207-287-3901.

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Water’s Future or Water Futures? by laurie lamountain

In the past few years we considered oil to be the resource over which a third world war could be fought. However, as a result of climate change devastation, the lack of political priority, governmental failure, inequality and armed conflict, now the spotlight is on water. This, together with the eternal debate on whether water should be a luxury good or universal access to it should be guaranteed could make water the focus of major geopolitical conflicts in the 21st century. —Smart Water Magazine: A War Over Water, a not so distant dystopian future by Laura F. Zarza. e are fortunate to live in a corner of the world where water is apparently abundant. Lakes and ponds not only afford recreational and economic opportunity to this region, they geographically define it. In fact, water is so abundant here that it’s easy to take it for granted. While millions of people around the globe devote a substantial portion of each day procuring water for their domestic needs, we don’t think twice about washing our cars or watering our lawns. We see water as an endlessly renewable natural resource to which we humans have equal rights. But do we? Due to an antiquated law, Maine is one of a few states that doesn’t restrict land-


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owners from tapping into the groundwater supply and extracting vast amounts of water. While this is great for the many industries that rely on water to produce their products, it’s not so great when investment industries see it as an opportunity to make money—lots of money—by commodifying an essential natural resource. According to a study titled Volume of bottled water in the U.S. 2010-2019 published by Jan Conway in November of last year, “Over the last decade, yearly bottled water consumption grew by almost 40 percent, reaching a total of almost 44 gallons per person in 2019 . . . In 2018, about a fifth of consumers in the United States usually drank bottled water, while 15 percent drank water from a bottle exclusively. Only one in ten Americans drank only tap or filtered water that year.” Of course, it’s more than slick designer water marketing that’s responsible for these statistics. This past year has placed a spotlight on the inherent inequity that exists in our society on so many levels. A common denominator to all of them is income inequity. The poorer the zip code, the more problems with just about everything, including access to clean water. Improving water infrastructure will go a long way toward fixing that problem, but it will take much more than that to deal with the looming

prospect of water scarcity. While here in Maine we may feel secure, water quality is a serious issue in many parts of this country. For those who live in those areas, bottled water is often a necessity. Even though replacing lead pipes and cleaning up contaminants in the environment can improve water quality for many, the problem of climate change persists. The fact is, there is simply less clean water to go around than there once was, which makes commodification of this resource an imminent threat we all need to acknowledge and react to, including those of us who are currently feeling fortunate. In December of 2020, Bloomberg News reported that “Water joined gold, oil and other commodities traded on Wall Street, highlighting worries that the life-sustaining natural resource may become scarce across more of the world.” The report cited the United Nations warning of human-driven climate change “making water availability increasingly less predictable. In California, the most recent acute dry spell stretched from December 2011 until March of [2019], according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The most dire effects took hold in July 2014, with 58% of the state’s land suffering ‘exceptional drought,’ leading to crop and pasture losses and other water emergencies.” So it’s not surprising that water has made its way to Wall Street. Facing uncertain prospects, farmers and municipalities have been compelled to factor water into their budgets, and the market allows them to hedge bets on the future price of it as a means of managing supply risk. But as another article published in December 2020 by the Yale School of the Environment points out, “some experts say treating water as a tradable commodity puts a basic human right into the hands of financial institutions and investors, a dangerous arrangement as climate change alters precipitation patterns and increases water scarcity.” The questions of whether or not water is a basic human right gets muddy when it comes to privatization. When water is privatized, does it rather become a human need that is subject to corporate control and regulation, thereby intercepting our relation with it? Commodification poses a parallel threat: turning water into a product that reaps the “owners” hefty profits at public expense. An important point to ponder is that it is consumption, rather than conservation, that generates profit.

In California, where Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) has been pumping millions of gallons of water out of the San Bernardino forest and bottling it under the Arrowhead brand, drought conditions have continued to worsen. The governor declared a regional drought emergency after another dry winter left major reservoirs at half capacity or lower, and yet Nestlé has continued pumping, at no cost to them beyond an annual permit fee of $2,100 to the Forest Service. Conservationists have long accused NWNA of pumping much more than it claims, and on April 23, 2021, state water officials finally issued a cease-and-desist order to be put before the California Water Resources Control Board. It remains to be seen how things will play out for Californians, given that conservationists have also long accused NWNA of leveraging lobbying power to influence state and local officials. Here in Maine, in late April of 2021, forecasters are already warning of another summer of drought. It’s a trend that has been dogging us for six years now. In 2016, wells were running dry and people were waking up to the fact that water is a very big deal. In Denmark, Maine, where Nestlé Waters North America (formerly branded as Poland Spring) has been conducting largescale groundwater extraction since 2010, residents were anxious to know how close they were to reaching Alert and Action levels through daily pumping. They were also questioning why, in 2012, NWNA had requested and been granted permission from the selectboard to lower Alert and Action levels, reduce the number of monitoring points, and change the index they’d been using to measure drought conditions. According to the permit NWNA has with Denmark that allows them “an aggregate daily total not to exceed 432,000 gallons in any given day, or an aggregate annual total not to exceed 105,100,000 gallons in any given 365-day period,” they are required to submit monthly reports documenting their extraction to the town, and although they engage a “third-party” company to take water levels at most of the monitoring wells and a handful of nearby domestic wells, it feels to many residents a bit like the fox guarding the hen house. And while Denmark conscientiously crafted their large-scale water ordinance to avoid the toll that tank trucks would take on its rural roads, it’s worth noting that the daily aggregate amount drawn from Denmark through an underground pipeline to a

An important point to ponder is that it is consumption, rather than conservation, that generates profit. filling station in nearby Fryeburg translates to 50 tank trucks transporting tons of water over Maine roads each day. It’s also worth noting that Cold Spring in Denmark is just one of ten locations from which NWNA extracts water in Maine. This spring, Switzerland-based Nestlé S.A. sold its Poland Spring brand, along with several other regional water brands in the U.S. and Canada, to a pair of private equity firms that hope to reinvigorate sales. One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos and Co. bought the brands for $4.3 billion, making it one of the largest bottled beverage companies in the U.S. The company known as Nestlé Waters North America will operate under a new corporate name, BlueTriton. The new company is already facing challenges in Ontario, Canada, where there is an effort to strengthen municipal protection of water resources. While bottled water is a different animal than bulk water, it’s still water. That it accounts for the lion’s share of one million plastic bottles purchased every minute around the globe lends an environmental absurdity that cannot be ignored. According to the Container Recycling Institute, a mere 14 percent of plastic water bottles used in the U.S. are recycled. Not only does a staggering 86 percent end up in the ocean, littering the land or in landfills, they disburse micro plastics into the consumer before being discarded. Our former governor scoffed at the idea of BPA, a controversial chemical additive in plastic, being a health threat, saying “the worse case is some women may have little beards.” Bottled water is also dead water. If you’ve ever cracked open a bottle of water and taken a big swig of something that tastes more like stale plastic, you know what I mean. The water that flows from my kitchen tap tastes pure and alive because it hasn’t been trapped in plastic. Ironically, it comes from the same source that Poland Spring, now BlueTriton, is extracting water from to fill millions of plastic containers. While I can’t claim my water is spring water, it’s worth noting that Poland Spring advertised its product as “100% Natural Spring

Water,” a claim challenged in an ongoing class action lawsuit that alleges “not one drop of Poland Spring Water emanates from a water source that complies with the Food and Drug Administration definition of spring water.” The suit further contends that the original spring in Poland, Maine, from which the brand takes its name, ran dry nearly fifty years ago. It can’t be denied that when natural disaster affects access to fresh water, bottled water can spell the difference between life and death. In places like Flint, Michigan, Georgia and Texas, people still dealing with lead contamination and boil water advisories buy bottled water out of necessity, rather than convenience. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. Until we can give up our irresponsible use of chemicals and contaminants, we all face the threat of water scarcity. In February of this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a press release stating that it had “issued two actions to protect public health by addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, highlighting the agency’s commitment to address these long-lasting ‘forever chemicals’ that can enter drinking water supplies and impact communities across the United States.” Less than a month later, residents of Fairfield, Maine, filed a class action lawsuit in which they allege that a local mill contaminated their land with PFAS, thereby devaluing their properties, exposing them to health risks, and necessitating soil remediation. The fact that the current administration is committed to addressing PFAS in our nation’s drinking water by enjoining the EPA to protect public health and the environment is hopeful. But we can’t just leave it up to government. We all bear a responsibility. There are things we can all do to protect our most precious resource—and they don’t necessarily have to be big. For one, we can ask ourselves, why on Earth pay the price that comes from consuming water in little plastic bottles? And we can honor the fact that we have the good fortune to live in a corner of the world where clean water is still a given by protecting it. It’s fate is in our hands. R

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FROM EARTH TO THE MOON AND BEYOND by leigh macmillen hayes photos courtesty of maine mineral & gem museum

e’re a learning institution,” says Jo Sorrell, Communications Director of Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, “and learning is not static and the science continues to change as well. It’s important for us to help people understand how much science matters in the mineralogical community, which is a reflection of a larger scientific community.” The museum began as a vision, one that had played out in several minds over the years, but came to fruition through the philanthropy of Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden, a couple who have been acquiring and conserving land in the area since the 1970s. Collectively, they and others formed a 501(c)3 non-profit organization because they thought creating a museum to preserve and honor western Maine’s rich mineral history was the right idea. As Assistant Curator Myles Felch explains, “There are hundreds of quarries

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and prospects in this area, including a high concentration of productive pegmatites that have gem materials or other mineral specimens.” The original plan, according to Myles, had been to use a sidewall in Bethel Historical Society for a display, but the vision grew and grew and grew . . . into what is now a world class museum in our backyard. Actually, it’s located at 99 Main Street in Bethel, and not easy to miss as two buildings were connected to form one large structure surrounded by the Arthur M. Hussey Memorial Rock Garden featuring 26 geological specimens from around Maine. With each specimen there is a plaque explaining its compositional features, location of origin, and the name of the person(s) or group who gifted or loaned it to the museum. Entering through the front door, one steps into the store, where you can find everything from jewelry created by local artists using local gems to rock hounder clothing,

household items, books, games, stationery, activities for kids, and gifts. To the right is the Discovery Gallery, a well-lit, airy room that currently hosts a tourmaline display honoring the first recorded find of Maine’s state mineral celebrating its 200th birthday. Glass display cases invite the visitor to gaze at the amazing examples while drawers below are meant to be opened for further learning. I’ve had the good fortune to visit the museum on several occasions including taking 30 kids and summer rec counselors there in 2019 before the official opening of the museum and watching their faces as they held a Moon rock in the gallery. At that time the room commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The kids patiently took turns donning white gloves and lifting the rock. Their grins, as bright as a moonlit night, matched their awe. More recently, Myles and Jo gave me a

private tour of the interactive galleries that honor the mining history and subsequent gem materials discovered over time. That one-wall-in-a-room idea that had been the original concept quickly morphed into the need for more space as several significant gem and mineral collections were acquired between 2010 and 2015, including the Perham, Ray Woodman, and David Seaman collections. Others filled in the gaps, and just like a Smithsonian museum, there is much more in storage than could possibly be displayed, but that will allow the curators to continuously change or upgrade what the public sees. Jo says, “As the acquisition of materials grew, the acquisition of stories of the people grew, telling those stories helped to expand the scope of the museum.” Curator Carl Francis, former curator at Harvard University’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum, was brought on early in the process of the museum’s creation because of his extensive knowledge about pegmatite mining in Maine, which began in the 1800s. He and others were responsible for creating a stepwise process through the galleries to help visitors grow their understanding about pegmatites beginning with feldspar, beryl, and mica and then transition-

ing to fine materials, the gem crystals that continue to drive today’s pegmatite mining. Gaining knowledge about granite at the start is important because most pegmatites found in Maine are composed of granite, an igneous rock that cooled and crystalized from a melt below the surface, called magma (think: above-surface lava in Hawaii). Granite is made up of two parts feldspar and one part quartz, possibly with a sprinkle of some mica, garnet, and perhaps tourmaline. A pegmatite is an extremely coarse-grained igneous rock where some crystals reach up to several meters in length. An interesting fact that Myles shares is this: Over 95% of minerals in the first part of the galleries comes from pegmatite even though pegmatites make up less than 1% of all rock types found in Maine. Therefore, the least amount of rocks produce the most prized minerals like beryl, quartz, and tourmaline. Rounding a bend in this sinuous tunnel, one steps into the mining world, right down to having the opportunity to detonate dynamite as voices from the past and action on a screen pull you into the scene. Paulus Design Group designed each exhibit and they were fabricated by 1220 Exhibits. Where the Discovery Gallery is low-tech and brightly

lit, extraordinary technology and specialized sound and lighting help highlight each feature in the interactive galleries. One stop along the way includes the Bumpus Quarry, aka The Big Find, where a large beryl crystal was discovered through blasting that put the mine on the map. At this point begins a selection of oral histories. Pressing a button at a wall kiosk activates voices of actual miners and mineralogists— real Mainers sharing real stories of their experiences in the field. And then, there’s a two-story diorama, which highlights the transition between the industrial pegmatites materials on the first floor and refining of finer materials on the second. Because pegmatites represent the final melt, as they crystalized they concentrated all things that didn’t fit into the common minerals of granite like feldspar or quartz. The first floor of the diorama shows how the minerals like tourmaline and beryl may occur in pockets or cavities of solid rock. Next comes a time-line that shares the history of some local quarries, including Mount Mica where gem tourmaline was first reported in Maine in 1820. There’s information about the Bennett Quarry, which most recently produced unusually large crystals of morganite, a pink variety of beryl, and the Dunton Mine made famous for its watermelon tourmaline, green on the outside and pink on the inside. By the 1970s, with the discovery of some of these minerals within the pegmatite cavities, an interest in mining was renewed, but with the focus changing from industrial uses to mineral specimens. Samples of these finds, some owned by the museum and others such as specimens found by the Freemans, owners of Mount Mica, on loan. A rotating case at the end of this long gallery features finds that have come out of the ground recently as a way to encourage the rock hounding culture. Up a flight of stairs and one enters another long, curving gallery with a completely different and more modern feel. First, there are special topics like gold, fluorescence, and radioactive minerals. There’s also a case devoted to micro-mounting, one in which you need a loupe or microscope to see the specimens. Just beyond those cases, you’ll find Maine Minerals A to Z with 270 macrosized specimens of some of the minerals you are likely to discover in Maine, most from pegmatite deposits. Electronic labeling cleverly minimizes clutter on the shelves so

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that you can look at the mineral collection and then access information on a pad in front of you to learn about any particular piece including a photograph, details about crystal system, density, context, locality and provenance, which Myles explains as this: who did we obtain this specimen from; who did they get if from; who dug or mined it out of the ground—thus providing lineage or pedigree. As Jo points out, it’s another example of the story telling that the museum aims to provide. One of my favorite stops on the second floor is an opportunity to step into Perham’s Mineral store for it brings back memories of a vacation to Maine when I was ten that included my first visit to the store, and the rediscovery of it about 15 years later when I moved to the state. I was fortunate to be able to share that experience with my sons and it often was part of a day’s adventure. I was sad when Jane Perham made the decision to close, but grateful all is memorialized at the museum.

Next comes the upstairs portion of the diorama, which illustrates the hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere. It’s a unique way to show how sub-systems are linked with each other and the hope is that visitors will take away the realization that if you disturb one aspect, you affect the other sub-systems. Following that, there’s a transition to the refining of minerals on the third floor. Here, two interactive displays demonstrate sphere making and gem cutting. After that one reaches the end of the road—by entering a dark room where the only lights accentuate glass cases displaying different pieces of jewelry created from Maine gems. The Maine Hall of Gems is dramatic in presentation with all the emphasis going to these works of art created from quartz, beryl, and tourmaline, among others. One of Jo’s favorites is the Peary necklace. As the story goes, in 1907 Admiral Peary (famous for his Arctic explorations) wanted to share with his wife his love for Maine and for her so he commissioned a

custom-made necklace of tourmaline from Mount Apatite in Auburn to be set in Maine gold and created in Maine. Jo says, “I love it because it’s hyperlocal ‘Maine is awesome’ in every shape and form.” Though the Maine Hall of Gems may mark the end of the Mineral and Gem world, it hardly marks the end of the galleries. A turn of a corner, and one steps from the Earth to the Moon and beyond by entering Space Rocks: The Stifler Collection of Meteorites. It’s a completely different world, literally and figuratively. Like all of the other galleries, special topics are featured, e.g. falls versus finds, historic meteorites, weathering of meteorites, and local Maine meteorites and special features like the Vesta Asteroid. One of the take-aways I gained from this room, is that the composition of these rocks is used to garner a better understanding of the early solar system and how it formed. Myles says that they’ve even found minerals in some of these meteorites that date older than the solar system meaning they came from somewhere outside our solar system. The study of meteorites helps scientists make inferences about our planet since as Myles says, “We can’t travel to the center of the Earth, even if Jules Verne says we can, but we can use geophysical data to interpret what’s in the center and we can use meteorites to infer what the interior portion of our planet might be like compositionally.” A visit to the Space Rocks gallery concludes with a multi-media show as the room transforms and suddenly visitors are surrounded by the birth of the solar system. Before I leave, Jo goes into a back room and returns with a small black case. After unlocking it, she hands me a light-weight rock . . . from Mars. And then a much heavier one . . . from the Moon. Neither of these were brought back by a Rover, but rather were discovered in what’s called a strewn field where a meteorite smashed into our planet and broke apart. Holding the rocks is an out of this world experience, but then again, the entire museum has that feeling. From Earth to the Moon and Beyond, if you haven’t visited the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, you should. And if you’ve already been, go again because some of the displays may have changed for like Jo says, this is not a static place of learning. R Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, 99 Main Street, Bethel, Closed Tuesdays, Open Monday, Wednesday Saturday: 10am - 5pm, Sunday: 11am - 5pm

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summer living

jerry monkman/

Please note that COVID-related policies and procedures are in place at all events; and the events are subject to change.

performing arts

Brick Church for the Performing Arts: Though the historic and acoustically perfect setting is closed this year, an outdoor concert in August will feature Heather Pierson. FMI:, 207.925.1500 Deertrees Theatre: June through August performances mark the 85th season at this enchanting Adirondack-style theater nestled in the pines of Harrison. FMI:, 207.583.6747 Denmark Arts Center: is following CDC guidelines. Always check the website for updates. Events move inside during inclement weather. FMI:, 207.452.2412 Dragonfly Barn: Historically a dairy farm owned by the Sanborn family of Bridgton, the renovated barn provides event space and the 2021 season is in the works. FMI: dragonflybarnmaine Ossipee Valley Music Festival: Micro-Fest and String Camp, July 20 - 21. Featuring an omnivorous blend of genre-defying sound, this year’s event will be toned down a bit. FMI: ossipeevalley. com, 207.625.8656

Raymond Community Forest

Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association: Staging productions highlighting local talent, look for an online performance in June and Monty Python’s Spamalot at Norway Grange in November. FMI: Schoolhouse Arts Center: Appealing to audiences of all ages, a variety of shows will be performed in Standish throughout the summer months. FMI:, 207.642.3743 Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival: Chamber music from various periods will be the focus of performances on July 13, 20 and 27, 7:30pm at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison. FMI: Stone Mountain Arts Center and Noonan’s Treehouse Cafe and curbside takeout: Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains, the two barns on

the property will highlight national acts and delicious food Thursdays through Saturdays. FMI: stonemountainartscenter. com, 207.935.7292

the outdoors

Greater Lovell Land Trust: Insects, Recycling, Forests, and the Tallest Chestnut Tree are among the topics supported by evening programs and morning hikes. Participants may also enjoy the Series for the Soul. FMI:, 207.925.1056 Lakes Environmental Association: Besides conducting valuable research on Maine lakes, LEA offers guided walks during the summer season at Holt Pond, Highland Research Forest and along the Stevens Brook Trail. FMI:, 207.647.8580 Loon Echo Land Trust: LELT provides a variety of outdoor experiences including walks,

bird watches, and more at their properties located in various towns in the lake region. FMI:, 207.647.4352 Mahoosuc Land Trust: From the Androscoggin River to mountain summits, MLT offers plenty of guided paddles and hikes for outdoor enthusiasts. FMI:, 207.824.3806 Upper Saco Valley Land Trust: Once a month, USVLT hosts a themed visit to a preserve or easement through the Easement Exploration Series designed to connect community members with the protected lands that surround them. FMI:, 603.662.0008 Western Foothills Land Trust: WFLT offers hikes, walks, races, and paddles that explore the natural history of the Oxford Hills Region, and especially the land trust’s properties and easements. FMI:, 207.739.2124

museums & history

Deertrees Theatre

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Bridgton Historical Society and Narramissic Historic Farm: Plan a visit to the BHS Museum on Gibbs Avenue, housed in the old firehouse, where town artifacts are on display. Enjoy monthly walks at Narramissic Farm and Peabody-Fitch Woods. FMI:, 207.647.3699 Clarence Mulford Room: Fryeburg Public Library is home to a room dedicated to Mulford’s fictional character, Hopalong Cassidy, and includes a collection of books, research notes and other memorabilia. FMI: fryeburgmaine. org/town-departments/library, 207.935.2731

Kimball-Stanford House: The first floor of the main house owned by the Lovell Historical Society serves as a museum while the ell houses the Research Center. A garden tour is planned for August 1. FMI:, 207.925.3234 Maine Mineral & Gem Museum: Nineteen interactive galleries explain the history of pegmatite mining in western Maine, topped off with Space Rocks: The Stifler Meteorite Collection. The museum store is also open. FMI:, 207.824.3036 Museums of the Bethel Historical Society: Exhibit galleries and period rooms are displayed in both the 1813 Dr. Moses Mason House (open 10:00am - 1:00 pm Thursday - Saturday, with tours by appointment) and 1821 O’Neil Robinson House (open 1:00 4:00pm) during the summer. Portland Brass Quintet, July 4. FMI:, 207.824.2908 Naples Classic Boat Parade: Sponsored by the Mountainview Woodies Classics Boat Club: August 14, 10:00am. The parade will pass but Naples Causeway and continue up to Harrison. FMI: Rufus Porter Museum: RPM offers an opportunity to learn more about the 19th century artist, inventor and founder of Scientific American magazine. Museum and gift shop open Wednesday-Saturday, June 12 to

October 9, 10:00am - 4:00pm. FMI:, 207.647.2828 Scribners Mill Educational Tours: Visit the 19th century sawmill and homestead in Harrison on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 1:00 - 4:00pm. Back to the Past with the 3rd Maine Reenactment, August 14. FMI:, 207.583.6544

fairs & festivals

Windham Modified SummerFest: June 12 - 19. Celebrate the beginning of summer. FMI:, 207.892.1905 Ossipee Valley Fair: July 8 - 11, A country fair with oodles of livestock events, competitions, demonstrations, and exhibits, 291 South Hiram Road, South Hiram. FMI: Waterford World’s Fair: July 16 - 18, Celebration of rural and historical culture includes a Day Full of Fiddling, 36 Irving Green Road, North Waterford. FMI:, 207.595.1601 Founder’s Day and Classic Car Exhibit: July 17, 9:00am - 5:00pm, Music, vendors, crafts, and car show to benefit Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum, Paris Hill. FMI: Paris Hill Music Festival: August 6 - 7, Bring chairs and blankets to enjoy some music under the stars for these benefit concerts. Paris Hill Country Club, 455

Lovell Art & Artisans Fair

Paris Hill Road, South Paris. FMI: Gray Blueberry Festival: August 14, A family-friendly event featuring food, music, and crafts. 24 Main Street, Gray. FMI: Find us on Facebook Maine Outdoor Film Festival at Hacker’s Hill: August 20, 8:15pm, Join Loon Echo Land Trust and the Maine Outdoor Film Festival for an evening of Outdoor Films, shown at Hacker’s Hill Preserve.

Suggested donation $10/adult. FMI: Lovell Arts & Artisans Fair: August 21, 9:00am - 3:00pm, 46th Annual Fair at New Suncook School will benefit the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library, Route 5, Lovell. FMI:, 207.925.3177 Oxford County Fair: September 15 -18, Traditional county fair featuring livestock, exhibits, competitions, shows, vendors, and a midway, Oxford County Fairgrounds, 67 Pottle Road, Oxford. FMI:, 207.739.2204

old home days

Lovell Old Home Days: July 17, Road race begins at 8:45am followed by a parade. FMI: Find us on Facebook Casco Days: July 29 - 31, Fireworks, road race, children’s parade, Grand Parade, and midway. Casco Days Park, Route 121, Casco. FMI: Brownfield Old Home Day: August 8, 1:00pm, Parade, kiddieland, pie-eating contest, cow chip bingo, community tugof-war, vendors, crafts, and food. FMI:

Rufus Porter Museum

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summer living

Bethel 1 Parkway Ave Behind Norway Savings Bank Saturdays, 9:00am - 1:00pm Bridgton Depot Street In front of Bridgton Community Center Saturdays, 8:00am - 12:00pm Steep Falls 1 Main Street Village Park Gazebo Saturdays, 9:00am - 2:00pm


LELT Acoustic Sunset

plein air music River Rock Music Festival: July 2 - 3, Christian music in an outdoor setting, Sunday River, 97 Summit Drive, Bethel. FMI: Bridgton Community Band: Wednesdays July 10 - August 14, 7:00pm, Independence Eve Concert on July 3, 7:30pm. Bridgton Gazebo, Frances Bell Drive, Bridgton. FMI: Loon Echo Land Trust’s Acoustic Sunset Concert August 4, 6:00pm, Vocals and guitar work by nationally renowned musician Bruce Marshall at Bridgton Historical Society’s

Bridgton Farmers’ Market

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Narramissic Historic Farm. FMI:, 207.647.4352

farmers’ markets

local foods and products Gray Village 19 Portland Road Sundays, 9:00am - 1:00pm Waterford Flat On the Common Mondays, 2:00 - 5:00pm Casco 940 Meadow Road (Rt. 121), Casco Village Green Thursdays, 9:00am - 2:00pm

The Longest Day 5K: Virtual event, run or walk the trails by June 20th and support Libby Hill Forest, Libby Hill Road, Gray. FMI: Four on the Fourth: July 4, 8:00am, Road race starts at Lower Main Street and follows traditional route, Bridgton. FMI: Harrison Norway Triathlon: July 10, Route 117 Between Depot St. and Tolman Rd. 8:00am - noon, Described as an exciting and fun sprint, the Fridays, 1:00 - 5:00pm Norway Triathlon is a USAT Poland sanctioned event. Proceeds from 1457 Maine Street the Norway Triathlon benefit the Fridays, 2:00 - 6:00pm Western Foothills Land Trust. FMI: Norway Race registration: 26 Whitman Street Fridays, 5:00 - 8:00pm Nomad Trail Race Series: From Portland May through October, adults Deering Oaks Park compete in a 5-mile race on a Saturdays, 7:00am - 1:00pm wooded trail at Shepard’s Farm Preserve and kids enjoy a 2-mile Windham loop. FMI:, 4 Turning Leaf Drive Intersection of River Road, Roosevelt Trail and Turning Tough Mountain Challenge: Leaf Drive July 24, Adventure obstacle 5K Saturdays, 8:30am - 12:30pm race challenges participants with alpine terrain, plus natural and man-made hurdles. Sunday River Resort, Newry. FMI: Casco Days Country Run: July 31, 9:30am, Four-mile road race, Casco Community Center. FMI: Trek for the Trails 2021: Run, walk, hike, bike, skip or drive—all on your own time and to support Loon Echo Land Trust’s trails. Choose from three Trek options: trek anywhere, trail passport challenge, or the Pleasant Mountain trail run. You have all of September to complete. FMI:

Photo by

Cornish, Maine

“. . . well seasoned Cornish is salted with architectural gems and peppered with antiques and crafts shops.” —Hilary Nangle Maine Travel Maven

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Eat what You Sow


n case you hadn’t noticed, the surge of interest in gardening that bloomed last spring amid lockdowns and alongside sourdough starters has taken root, with many novice gardeners returning to their plots this season. As a gardener myself, I love comparing notes with other growers, learning what works for them, what varieties they like to grow, and the flops and successes they’ve had in their growing season. No matter if you put your first seeds in the soil yesterday or have been doing it your whole life, there’s never a shortage of new things to learn or creative solutions to pick up. I find that my gardens are a collage of techniques, tricks, and plant varieties I’ve learned about from other growers. The magenta amaranth that adds flair to a bouquet and turns the water a pink color was inspired by a farm in Nova Scotia. The wonderfully tart, broad-leaf sorrel that pokes up first thing in the spring was picked up from an Adirondack farmer. I’ve learned not to harvest beans when the plants are wet to

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by marguerite wiser

avoid spreading rust, and that you can bury tomato seedlings as deep as you need, (especially covering over a broken stem). The fine hairs on the plant’s stem will turn into roots when underground. Having good soil is key. While Dianne Lewis of Denmark is hesitant to refer to herself as any sort of expert or authority on gardening, she certainly has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. She thinks it was in her blood, as her grandfather was an avid gardener. Since 1996, she has grown vegetables on a sunny plot of land next to her brother-inlaw’s garden plot; they share advice and a friendly spirit of competition. Her growing space is 150’ by 50’, though only 75’ by 50’ is in production. Chickens, which she raises for eggs and meat, peck at the fallow land, and she often plants a green manure cover crop to enhance the soil. Dianne uses plenty of compost, low till-methods, and mulches with leaves that break down and build up the soil. When we spoke in the spring she had almost 60 bags of raked leaves ready to go in her barn. All

that mulching comes in handy for keeping the weeds down and holding in moisture, especially in a dry year like last season. When it comes to ordering her seeds, she has always been an early bird, poring over catalogues in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. With the uptick in gardening, she noticed many sold-out or back-ordered varieties this year. But with flexibility, checking several seed catalogs and local stores, seeds can be found. Just down the road, Harold and Val Woodman grow a bountiful garden in South Bridgton, and also noticed a seed shortage this season. They plant a wide range of vegetables on about three-quarters of an acre. The Woodmans have always gardened; Val grew up with cows and gardens in Massachusetts, while Harold fondly remembers digging potatoes with his grandfather on Peaks Island. They find the work of gardening to be their form of relaxation. Harold and Val opt for a tilling method, usually remaking the rows each year. This season they are leaving some of the beds

that already have black plastic on them to keep the weeds down. They add alfalfa pellets for nitrogen, a little bit of 10-10-10 fertilizer, and aged chicken manure to help the soil and plants along, and don’t use any pesticides. Harold has also created what they call the “Bass-o-matic,” named after the classic Saturday Night Live sketch. The contraption, made from an outdoor sink and garbage disposal, is used to create homemade fish emulsion. He and Val recall harvesting massive potatoes the year after fertilizing with it. The University of Maine Soil Testing Service offers reasonably priced soil tests, great for gardeners just starting out or for those looking to improve their soils. They offer recommendations on amendments, and in what amounts. The tests also screen a potential garden site for lead or other contaminants. The Cooperative Extension Service can provide great resources and information for novice and experienced growers. Dianne’s garden produces much of what she and her husband eat, about 90% of their vegetables. When we chatted in April she was still enjoying last season’s potatoes, not to mention homegrown canned and frozen vegetables. “I’ve always been interested in where my food comes from and growing my own food.” Dianne says, “ Once I was able to do it, it just felt like it was a natural thing.” She’s discovered that adding a bit of horseradish to her dill pickles makes them stay nice and crispy when canned. Like many gardeners, Dianne is always experimenting with new varieties mixed with old favorites. Recent additions that look to be keepers include red kidney beans and the stunning watermelon radish with its green skin and bright pink flesh. The Woodmans also like knowing that their food doesn’t have harmful chemicals on it. Harold notes, “Anything out of the garden just tastes better, you can tell the difference.” For them, much of the joy of gardening is growing lots more than they need and, once they process enough for themselves, sharing the surplus with friends, older folks, and those who can make use of it in the community. For people just starting out, a crop failure or damage from some sort of pest might be discouraging, but it happens to the best growers. Each season is different and some years certain crops grow well, and others don’t. Dianne had trouble with carrots germinating last season, and the

Woodmans’ beets and garlic didn’t do so well. Flea beetles have prevented Dianne from growing spinach for the past few years, but luckily Patch Farm just down the road grows great spinach and she loves supporting fellow gardeners. When Dianne needs advice on pests or other growing issues she asks her brother-inlaw, vendors at the local farmers market, or looks to the internet, which has a lot of great resources when it comes to gardening. She also recommends the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) frequent pest reports. Constant vigilance and preventative action is required in dealing with insect pests. Dianne has a six-foot fence to keep deer out of the gardens, though the chickens sometimes break in. She also uses argi-fabric, or floating row cover, to keep some pests off the crops. At the height of the season, Dianne spends upwards of an hour a day in the garden. Cucumber beetles and potato bugs must be picked off the plants daily so they don’t get out of control. She remembers calling her husband from a vacation in Sedona, Arizona, and asking not, “Hi, how are you? I miss you terribly,” but rather, “Have you been picking the potato bugs?” While hardcore gardeners remove the bugs by hand, squishing them, the more squeamish can don gloves or deposit them into a container of soapy water. Those who are grossed out by the beetles and potato bugs probably won’t like tomato hornworms! These big, juicy, caterpillars blend in remarkably well with tomato foliage, and can be tricky to spot. You’ll be able to locate them by the chewed leaves and droppings, or in a new technique I recently was introduced to, by taking a

For them, much of the joy of gardening is growing lots more than they need and, once they process enough for themselves, sharing the surplus with friends, older folks, and those who can make use of it in the community.

blacklight into your garden at night. The hornworms glow bright under the purplish light, making it easy to pick them off to feed to the chickens or dispose of otherwise. Val doesn’t like to pull the surprisingly strong hornworms off the plants and opts to just pick them off, leaf and all. Dianne does some interplanting to help mitigate pest issues. She grows marigolds and leeks with her brussels sprouts to thwart cabbage worms and places potted geraniums by her basil to reduce Japanese beetle damage. The beetles are drawn to the geranium flowers, though the scent paralyzes the pest, making it easy to collect them underneath the plants and dispose of them. She also plants alyssum to attract bees and tithonia for the hummingbirds; Dianne loves to hear them buzzing around while she picks pole beans. She also grows nasturtiums for herself, as they are great to eat. Adding flowers encourages pollinators to visit your vegetable crops, and creates a fun splash of color to your growing space. For beginners, Dianne recommends growing forgiving vegetables, like beans, lettuce, kale, radishes, and sunflowers. She is hard pressed to pick a favorite crop or vegetable but loves kale, cucumbers, and tomatoes. This year she’s growing five varieties of pickling cucumbers, four varieties of slicing cucumbers, two slicing tomato contnued on page 33

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The Bag Lady by leigh macmillen hayes

Template (a shaped piece used as pattern): It all begins with a bolt . . . of upholstery fabric, that is. Diana Davis chooses the design, lays it out on the six-foot wide by four-foot deep cutting table, picks up cardboard templates from a cubby beneath, places them on the fabric to capture the pattern in a particular manner, traces the cardboard outlines with a water-based pen, and cuts out the pieces with a power cutter as she cheerfully chats with me. “If I’m careful,” she explains, “I can stack a few layers and cut out a few at once.” To do that requires prior decisions about how the pattern will display and be centered on the front of a bag. Templates are important as quality control for each of the twenty styles the owner of Designs by Diana Bags in Lovell creates. Diana’s personal template was laid upon her through osmosis rather than a direct application. Her mother made Diana’s clothes and was a seamstress at a dress factory housed in the former Brookside Building (where the Magic Lantern is located) on Main Street in Bridgton. “My mom tried to teach me to sew,” says Diana, “but I wasn’t interested. I didn’t have the patience.” Not exactly following in her mother’s footsteps, Diana was looking for a side job she could do at home to earn some extra Christmas dollars when she answered a help-

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wanted ad at Log House Designs in Fryeburg. During the interview, she explained that she hadn’t done a lot of sewing. She was told they would teach her how and the job was hers. Returning home, her husband George couldn’t believe it. As Diana recalls, he commented, “You’re kidding. I throw my clothes away when they need to be mended because you won’t mend.” Her response, “No, and I’m still not going to mend.” Not only did Log House Designs teach her to sew on industrial machines, but they also taught her to make patterns and fix machines when they broke down, a skill that benefits her still. She worked for several other outfits including Richardsons Manufacturing and Tentsmiths, all the while gaining experience that gave her the confidence to walk into the 1998 Christmas Craft Fair at Fryeburg Academy with

a display stand, table, and suitcase full of tapestry-fronted vests she’d made in her free time. The memory still makes her laugh as she recalls how much she had to learn about selling handmade items at fairs. To that end, she credits the network of crafters she met at numerous fairs, including Fryeburg Fair, with helping her to get established as they shared knowledge about setting up a space and where to purchase materials. As the popularity of vests began to wane, Diana, a self-proclaimed people watcher, realized that bags were becoming trendier. The use of handbags can be traced back to ancient times. Egyptians used them to carry weapons and tools. Ancient Greeks held coin pouches. By the 14th and 15th centuries, purses were part of “the ritual of courtly love,” decorated with allegorical scenes and motifs according to Fashions of Handbags & Purses, by Anna Johnson. Through time the styles and functions evolved and Diana’s bags have followed suit. So has her business. The impetus to establish Designs by Diana Bags stems from the fact that she was sewing for David Richardson in Madison, New Hampshire, when he decided to lay off all but his in-house stitchers. “I had to make a decision,” she says. “Get another job or make this work.” Serge (to overcast, especially by machine, in order to prevent fraying): By serging one adds strength to seams, and one of the two machines in Diana’s workspace is a serge machine. With it, she can trim the seams and enclose the allowance on the edge of the fabric inside a thread casing. Diana’s is a five-thread serger, though she prefers to work with three industrial-sized bobbins to create an overlocked edge, which prevents the material from raveling. Once the pieces of a bag have been cut, she moves to the serger to begin the next step in the process. Part of Diana’s strength in starting her own business came from the support team that surrounded her. George let her take over part of the house so she could continue to

work from home. Her mother did some ironing for her, put button holes in the vests, and worked on the serger. Kenyon King of Log House Designs cuts some of the lining pieces. And Chris Carone, town clerk in Stow, where Diana also serves as town treasurer, sews pockets into liners of two bag styles. As I watch and Diana talks and works on a bag to demonstrate the steps involved, she tells me how the space in the Davises’ home became too small and George really wanted the house back. While all the whatifs of expanding into a rented space haunted her, George said he’d help. Stan Tupaj rented the space adjacent to his Kezar Realty to Diana in 2019. Walking through the door, one enters a well-lit and colorful boutique featuring her bags and a variety of other Maine-made crafts sold on consignment. A cheery “hello” greets the customer, usually from the studio behind the boutique. Beyond that is s third space that serves as her warehouse storage for bolts of fabrics measuring 58-60 inches wide with anywhere from five to thirty yards of cloth on them, plus everything else needed to complete a project. Even when the world seemed to fall apart in March 2020, Diana still found her support team standing behind her, including George, who reminded her, “You can work; you just can’t be open to the public.” And so she created masks for a Westbrook company when no one was beating down the door to purchase one of her bags. Stitch (a loop of thread resulting from a single movement of the sewing needle): Once the serging is completed, Diana sits down at an industrial sewing machine to actually create the bag. It’s a computerized machine that can back tack and cut thread. It’s also programed for different stitches. First she makes tabs that will support shoulder straps when added. Then she measures and marks where an outside pocket will fit on the material. Pulling from a zipper roll, she cuts the length she needs, then sews the zipper face down onto the material, turns and top stitches so two rows of stitching hold it tightly in place. After making sure the teeth line up, with a slider she adds the zipper pull. She also checks to make sure the fabric pattern is aligned. Diana operates the sewing machine with her foot and knee, and sometimes it’s idle, while other times it races across the material. The bag comes together with ease as the machine whirs rather like a train moving into the engine house.

Finally, it’s time to create “ears” on the inside by sewing diagonally across the two bottom corners so the bag will stand on its own when completed. The last step is to add shoulder straps, which fit in where she earlier made tabs by the zipper ends. Finished Product (a final version of one of Diana’s bags): Like magic, or so it seems, the form takes shape as Diana turns the bag right-side-out, pushes the corners, zips it up, and tada . . . a new bag created with a summery pattern is completed. While the styles Diana makes range from wallets and cell phone bags to large totes, her signature item is what she’s named the highway backpack. It’s a shoulder bag with two pockets. When you unzip the back of the shoulder bag, out unfolds a backpack. A quick changeover of unhooking the shoulder strap on one side and feeding it though the top of the backpack before reattaching the strap to a D-ring and voilà, you have extra space to stow a jacket or toss in some small purchases. Watching Diana work and listening to her story, it’s obvious she has a passion not only for creating beautiful and functional bags, but she also cares about her customers, some of whom she’s gotten to know

through particular craft fairs. With that infectious chuckle, she says, “At the Fryeburg Fair I’d see this woman from Massachusetts. She’d come every year and buy Christmas presents from me. You just know certain customers will show up at certain fairs. And if they didn’t, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were okay.” One of her favorite customer stories is about the Abrams Flooring guy who stops by to purchase a gift for his wife when he’s in working in the Lovell area. Before Christmas 2020, Diana had left a note on the shop door saying it was closed for two weeks, but she’d open by appointment. On Christmas Eve morning the phone rang. On the other end a guy practically shouted, “Get outta bed. It’s the Floor Guy and I’m at your shop and you’re not here.” Within minutes she was, and he completed his Christmas shopping, much to the delight of both of them and those on the receiving end, I’m sure. The Bag Lady she is. R Designs by Diana Bags, Shop and Studio, 222 Main Street. Lovell. FMI: 207.925.9111;;

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justin’s list

It’s always good to shop local when possible, and also read local! Here are a few noteworthy, new Maine books that I have recently enjoyed. The Lowering Days, by Casco resident Gregory Brown, embodies the Maine experience in so many ways. When a Penobscot teenager burns down part of an empty, bankrupt paper mill, it rocks the small community. Many had hopes of the mill being purchased and re-opened, while others, especially the indigenous population, were happy for an end to it and its pollution. The friendship of the Ames and the Creel families, who are neighbors along the Penobscot River, is put to the test. Told through the eyes of fourteen-year-old David Ames and Penobscot teenager Molly, Brown’s work struck a chord with me, and his eloquent natural and historical descriptions are rare in a debut novel. While on the subject of paper mills, Kerri Arsenault’s memoir entitled Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains examines the relationship between the town of Mexico, Maine, and its paper mill. Three generations of Arsenault’s family labored at the mill, along with most of the town. What price do the residents pay for their jobs and livelihood? The gradual downturn of the economy, environment and public health is documented by the author in this telling exposé. Northern Reach by W. S. Winslow is a series of interconnected short stories that take place over the last 120 years in our state. Woven together by relationships between families, we feel their grief and joy, and loves and losses. Winslow’s portrayals of Maine life over the years felt very genuine and real to me in this debut. Moving on to the crime beat, here are a few I’d like to recommend. In The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Jacob Finch Bonner’s writing career is fading fast. Although his first novel had modest success and was a “New and Noteworthy” book in The New York Times, he was barely able to publish a second, which after multiple rejections ultimately bombed. Out of ideas and relegated to working at writer’s workshops to put bread on the table, an obnoxious student shares an incredible plot idea with him. Can you see where this is heading? Alex Michaelides keeps you guessing until the very end in The Maidens, his second mystery. When a classmate and friend of her niece is murdered at Cambridge University, Mariana rushes over to comfort and protect

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her. There she meets the charismatic, enigmatic Professor Fosca, and his pet students, who are part of a secret society known as “The Maidens.” Was this some type of ritual killing? Aussie mystery writer Jane Harper hasn’t disappointed me yet, and The Survivors is another well-developed, complex mystery. Kieran Elliott has just returned to his family home on the coast of Tasmania when a young woman’s body washes up on the beach. Long ago secrets resurface and Kieran finds himself in the middle of this macabre puzzle. Stampede is the perfect name for Brian Castner’s non-fiction history of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898. After an economic upheaval in the United States, over one hundred thousand people flocked to Dawson City to seek their fortunes. Most were underprepared for the inland trek and harsh weather, and thousands died. Very few prospectors became rich, and many made their fortunes aiding and supplying and/or taking advantage of the newcomers. A cast of colorful characters, including a young Jack London, makes this mass migration saga a fascinating read. Penguin Lessons is a delightful memoir about a young man who adopts a penguin, or should I say a penguin who adopts a young man? Tom Michell, a Brit, is traveling in Uruguay in the 1970s when he stumbles across a beach full of dead penguins resulting from an oil spill. Remarkably, one penguin is still alive, and he washes the tar and oil off it and nurses it back to health. Later, when the author tries to return the penguin to the sea, the penguin refuses to leave. Thus begins a life-long friendship which is hilarious at times and also a wonderful travelogue of a different place and time. New in paperback, The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi is a novel which also transports

you to another time and culture. India in the 1950s is very different from our society, but we share many universal traits, including family, reputation, love and loss, and ambition. At seventeen, Lakshmi runs away from an abusive husband to the big city of Jaipur. Over the course of many years, she builds up her business and brand as a henna artist to the upper class. But reputation is everything, and when her husband tracks her down, accompanied by a teenage sister Lakshmi never knew she had, everything changes.

sue’s selections

Oh how I loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow! A bit of portalmagic fantasy mixed with a suspenseful tale. The adolescent, January, who is under the charge of a wealthy collector while her father travels the world in search of artifacts, begins to realize that all is not normal and that she’s being prevented from searching for answers about her family. Although she doesn’t understand what’s happening she doesn’t give up, and encounters many worlds, stories and vanishing doors along the way. Right from the beginning I was engrossed in Isabel Allende’s historical novel, A Long Petal of the Sea. A wonderful story of loyalty, hope, passion and survival that begins in the late 1930s with the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rise to power. The story evolves as Victor and Roser escape to France with hundreds of thousands of war refugees, and then are among the lucky ones to sail to a new life in Chile aboard the rescue ship SS Winnipeg thanks to the efforts of Pablo Neruda. Through her characters and storytelling Allende demonstrates the positive aspects of immigration. Lastly, Fredrik Backman fans, be sure to pick up a copy of his new novel Anxious People. What a delight!

perri’s preferences “To restore stability to our planet…we must restore its biodiversity, the very thing we have removed. It is the only way out of this crisis that we ourselves have created. We must rewild the world!” —Sir David Attenborough The first part of David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, is truly horrifying. This “witness statement” of his observations over his 94 years on Earth chronicles the destruction humans have wreaked on the planet, resulting in warming oceans, loss of biodiversity, and the distressing disappearance of wilderness. But he also offers a ray of hope and ways to “make amends, manage human impact, and change the direction of our development.” Read this urgent, essential testament NOW because the “future of our planet, the only place as far as we know where life of any kind exists, is at stake.” Wow! Tammy Duckworth is one impressive woman. Her compelling memoir, Every Day Is a Gift, starts with her birth in Thailand and goes through her childhood in Southeast Asia, then to her first experience of American life in Hawaii. She becomes a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, gets shot down in Iraq, and loses both her legs—but that doesn’t stop her. She goes on to work for state and national Veterans Affairs, is elected as a Representative for Illinois and currently serves as that state’s junior Senator, in addition to mothering two young

daughters. Her incredible determination, wide-ranging life experience, empathy, and indomitable attitude are inspirational and put to shame many politicians ensconced in Washington. We need more like her in positions of power. In Come Fly the World, Julia Cooke extolls the Pan Am stewardesses in the second half of the 20th century. The allure of world travel attracted independent, adventurous women who were the forerunners of the feminist movement. Although they were required to meet certain physical standards, they also had to be college educated, speak two languages, and “possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer.” Stewardesses learned to “deftly carve a rack of lamb,” mix cocktails at 36,000 feet, and “assert authority in emergency situations,” all while remaining calm and looking chic. They also flew in and out of war zones, participated in Operation Babylift, and improved the role of women in the corporate world. Who knew? As cat people know, their favorite pets approach life with the proper attitude and John Gray explains why in Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, an admiration of the way cats live “unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness.” This is no book of silly memes—Gray is a professor of politics and European thought at venerable universities and he cites Montaigne, Spinoza, Tanizaki, and other notables to further his arguments. In the end, he offers

“Ten Feline Hints on How to Live Well” including “Never try to persuade human beings to be reasonable” and “Sleep for the joy of sleeping.” Dog people may not agree with these enlightened views but, as arch-realists, cats fully embrace the world’s folly without worry. What if people truly appreciated “the miracle of the mundane”? What if “we work with what we have” instead of buying new stuff? And what if capability and reliability were celebrated and rewarded? Heather Havrilesky delves into these questions about modern life in her collection of essays What If This Were Enough? She champions the ordinary, redefines the meaning of “luxury,” illuminates “true romance,” and laments the “existential despair” of Disney World, urging a shift in perspective and hopefully a change for the better. The 2020 National Book Award’s winning Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu, is a much bigger book than it appears. Starting off as a police action drama script with the narrator, his family, and acquaintances playing various roles, the actors’ backstories and real life roles are revealed as the novel progresses. Entertaining and often funny, Yu describes how immigrants struggle to assimilate while maintaining their native culture and breaking free from overwhelming stereotypes. The story is particularly relevant today in light of recent anti-Asian American sentiment that has unfortunately reared its ugly head across our country. Based on actual events, John Preston’s little gem, The Dig, is a gentle, very English, cogitation on history, the passing of time, what is lost, and what remains. In 1939, as rumors of war are looming, a widow initiates an archeological dig to find out what lies within ancient burial mounds on her property in Suffolk called Sutton Hoo. When a flash of gold is discovered, excitement builds, egos clash, and relationships are strained as various parties vie to unearth what would prove to be one of the most important Anglo-Saxon archeological finds in the world. The treasure, now housed in the British Museum, can be viewed online at (search for “Sutton Hoo”). If none of the above sparks your interest, try Kazuo Ishiguro’s poignant new novel, Klara and the Sun, a slightly futuristic tale, along the lines of his previous Never Let Me Go, about a unique, very observant “Artificial Friend” who learns the often painful lessons of what it means to be human.

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pam’s picks for kids & young adults See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book By Priddy Books Ages birth+ Stimulate your child’s senses with this colorful board book full of smiling babies engaged in a variety of activities. There are so many different textures to touch and things to see, this book will quickly become a favorite! If You Go Down to the Woods Today Poems by Rachel Piercey Illustrated by Freya Hartas Ages 4+ Take a stroll with Bear into his magical woods and along the way stop and search for adorable animals celebrating the seasons and nature-inspired elements. Playful poetry will guide young nature enthusiasts through this unique interactive book. Maybe By Kobi Yamada Ages 5+ You are destined to do amazing things and achieve your dreams just because you are you. This book beautifully reinforces your inner potential and shows how unique and special you truly are. The illustrator’s combination of realistic details and a hint of magical elements keep the reader imagining what’s next. Doggo and Pupper By Katherine Applegate Early Reader - ages 5+ Doggo is comfortable with his daily routine of stalking bugs, taking naps and eating crumbs off the floor, even though Cat thinks his life boring. His owners also suspect Doggo needs a lift, so they bring home Pupper, an energetic and undisciplined puppy who turns the house upside down. He is sent to obedience school and when he returns, Pupper seems sad and Doggo is back to the same boring routine . . . until Doggo has an idea! The Last Bear By Hannah Gold Ages 9+ April’s scientist dad is hired by the govern-

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ment to work at a weather station on Bear Island, located within the Arctic Circle. While her dad is preoccupied collecting weather data and conducting research experiments, April explores the island in hopes of finding a polar bear, although she had been informed that they no longer resided there. During the height of the summer, long hours of daylight allow April to search for tracks and signs of life. While out exploring one day she catches a glimpse of a white mass moving across the horizon. Could it be?

Distraught by the mistreatment of her foster parents, Sara hacks into the New York City foster care system to report them. When the police arrive, instead of charging her foster parents with abuse, they arrest Sara for hacking into the system. Doomed to be sentenced to a juvenile detention center by an uncaring lawyer, a mysterious man enters the court and claims to be her new representative. Follow Sara’s journey and find out how her life changed.

All the Impossible Things By Lindsay Lackey Ages 12+ Red had a constant storm brewing in her, one she struggled to control. Whenever she felt scared or angry, the skies would darken and the wind would pick up . . . sometimes to hurricane force. She inherited this gift or curse from her mother. While her mother served time in prison, Red lived in various foster homes. Although the Grooves would be the last family she’d live with before her mother’s upcoming release, Red unexpectedly finds a connection with this quirky couple who run a petting zoo. How will this affect her future?

The Electric Kingdom By David Arnold Ages 12+ Reviewed by Bekah Plummer In post apocalyptic New England, after an insect experiment goes horribly wrong, almost all of humanity has been wiped out by flies carrying a deadly flu virus. Nico and her dog, Harry, venture into untold deserted lands to find the waters of Kairos—a place thought to be make believe. During their voyage, evidence continuously reinforces Nico’s hope that it could be real. Along the way, she and Harry cross paths with Kit and his crew, who are searching for an island free from the plague “flies.” Kit and Nico must learn to trust each other as they journey towards different destinations. This book makes me want to read it over and over again, because there are so many plot twists and different perspectives. The Electric Kingdom has left me thinking about and appreciating the privileges we take for granted.

City Spies By James Ponti Ages 11+ One of my favorite middle school books of 2020, this page turner gets an A+ for creativity and for taking me on a journey of espionage, nail-biting stunts and world-class computer hacking . . . all for the good of mankind.

Fable By Adrienne Young Ages 13+ Abandoned on a savage island of Jeval at the age of twelve, Fable was forced to support herself in a hostile environment of mostly men and little food. After the drowning of her mother, Fable’s powerful father abandoned her and returned to the Narrows, hoping to leave the memories of his wife and daughter behind. Her mother was gifted with finding and identifying original gems . . . a rare skill she passed on to Fable. Dredging for precious stones was dangerous, but revealing your finds was even riskier. Determined to save enough money for passage home to her father, her only way out was to trust West, a ship captain on the Marigold. Can she? One of Us is Lying By Karen M. McManus Ages 14+ Five high profile students were sent to detention on Monday and only four left the room alive. Simon, the unpopular editor-in-chief of Bayview High’s gossip app, had the juice on everybody and nobody was exempt from his list. All four students in detention had a secret and a motive. Simon planned to release damaging information about them on Tuesday; facts that would change their lives and future. So, who wanted him dead? Raybearer By Jordan Ifueko Tarisai craved attention from her mostly absent mother. Instead, tutors who were coached by her mother raised and taught her the ways of the world, but years of isolation and being starved of attention and love did not weaken her moral compass. When Tarisai was old enough, she was sent to the capital of Aritsar to compete with other children in hopes to be selected to join the prestigious Council of 11 and the Crown Prince. The possibility of becoming part of this family with a bond that runs deeper than blood was empowering, however, a deep but dormant feeling tugged at her—her mother’s magical wish to kill the Crown Prince. Even though she tried to suppress it, she didn’t trust herself around him. Tarisai desperately wanted to be chosen, but if she was could she choose a different path than her mother expected her to take? Best YA fantasy book I read in 2020!

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and, served well chilled, it’s a perfect aperitif for summer evenings. have always loved ritual. Whether for its predictability or formality, Hannaford carries Les Florets, a rosé from the Luberon region that I find there something deeply reassuring in the repetition that lies I highly recommend. at the heart of it. My most enduring memory of Sunday Mass from Enter-deux-Mers and Muscadet are crisp, dry white wines that childhood was following Communion, when the priest performed go especially well with fresh shucked Maine oysters. Add a chamthe ceremony of storing the Blessed Sacrament. It was mesmerizing pagne mignonette to your oysters and you’ll in its precision, though it eventually lost its think you’ve died and gone to heaven. appeal along with my religious fervor. If you want to heighten its flavor, a few Fortunately, life is filled with many drops of Cassis or Chambord added to a rituals beyond religion. On my first visit to glass of white wine constitutes a Kir. Added France in 1984, l’apéritif revealed itself to to a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne, me as one of them. From the precision of it’s a Kir Royale. its timing ahead of the meal, to the choice Then there are the classic aperitif choices, of beverages and glasses to serve them in, to by laurie lamountain some of which were mentioned above. the food to accompany them, it is a social Campari, Suze and L’Amer Picon derive tradition of French life that is arguably an their distinctively bitter taste from the infualmost religious experience. sion of herbs and spices steeped in alcohol. For those who are not familiar with Lillet Blanc is a fortified wine made in the the custom, an aperitif is so much more Bordeaux region that my friend Deborah than a drink taken before a meal to whet introduced me to, and its slightly citrusy/ the appetite. It can stand alone, with no slightly spicy-sweet flavor blooms when expectation of a meal to follow, and in this served over ice in a short bistro glass. Dates way provides casual conviviality within the with parmesan are a perfect companion. relatively brief span of half an hour or so. Other classics include Dubonnet, Pastis, L’heure de l’apéro (cocktail hour) can be a vermouth and sherry. reset that allows us to transition from the Vins maison are homemade aperitif wines workday into the personal, or it can serve as that are relatively easy to make and typically the delightful prelude to an everyday meal take advantage of seasonally available fruits and herbs. Because they’re or significant event. Given that it’s not uncommon in France for a fortified with hard alcohol, they will keep for an extended period of celebratory meal to last hours, one could view it as a warm-up sprint time but also need time to develop. All of them begin with a base of for the gastronomic marathon of the meal that follows. The important inexpensive (but honest) red, white or rosé wine, and most are fortified thing—from aperitif to digestif—is to pace yourself. I learned this the with vodka. Some have added sugar and some rely solely on the infuhard way when I mistakenly took the first course at an anniversary sion of fruit, vanilla beans, and spices for their flavor. Sangria is probdinner to be the entire meal. Several hours and courses later, I was ably the most widely known vins maison because it’s so easy to make. barely able to move. L’heure de l’apéro is perhaps best described as a pause. It’s about It’s for this reason that the foods served at aperitif time are gensavoring a drink, or maybe two, with good food and conversation. erally small bites that can be eaten out of hand. Amuse bouches, The beverages are rarely strong spirits and, in fact, need not be alcowhich translates to “amuses the mouth,” are intended to stimulate holic at all. Concentrated fruit syrups added to seltzer or sparkling the appetite and complement the choice of aperitif. Salty nuts, olives, mineral water make a perfect aperitif. I like to add a drizzle of Maine and hard cheeses go well with bitter, alcohol-based aperitifs, such as maple syrup to blueberry-infused seltzer for a refreshing MaineCampari, Suze and L’Amer Picon. Saucisson sec (cured sausage) is inspired mocktail. Pomegranate juice with orange-infused sparkling another good choice. French radishes with butter and coarse salt, water is equally delicious. black olive tapenade, homemade chips or simply a bowl of toasted Ultimately, l’apéritif is both a beverage and a ritual, in which the pistachios are other excellent aperitif companions. most important ingredient is time spent with family and friends—someWhen it comes to the choice of aperitif to serve, you can’t go wrong thing we’ve all sorely missed this past year and a half. A votre santé! with wine. We finally have access to dry rosé wine in this country


Here are some simple variations on recipes found in Aperitif: Recipes for Simple Pleasure in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan.


1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir or Burgandy chilled 2 oranges, cut crosswise into slices 2 lemons, cut crosswise into slices 1 bottle (12 ounces) sparkling mineral water, chilled

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl or pitcher and serve immediately. A good complement to spicy, salty foods.

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campari and soda

It’s hard to beat this classic summer cocktail, the taste of which is every bit as vivid as the color. 2 oz Campari 2 oz soda water or to taste, chilled Thin slice of orange or lemon peel

Pour Campari over 3 or 4 ice cubes in a tall, chilled tumbler. Pour in the soda water, stir, and add citrus.

poor man’s vin d’orange 1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamay or Beaujolais 3/4 c granulated sugar 1/2 c vodka Dried peels from 6 small or 4 large sweet oranges

A day or two before making the wine, remove peels from the oranges and place them on a baking sheet in a 200˚F oven for 45 minutes to dry them. Combine all the ingredients in a clean, dry, wide mouthed glass jar or ceramic crock. Cover and store in a cool, dark place, turning upside down several times a week, until the sugar has dissolved. Let stand 2 to 3 months and then strain, bottle and cork.

champagne mignonette

This simple recipe from MarthaStewart. com allows that the Champagne is optional, however, she highly recommends adding it, especially if you’re serving Champagne as aperitif. 1 shallot, finely minced 1/2 c Champagne vinegar 2 tbsp Champagne or sparkling wine (optional) Fresh shucked oysters

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled, spooned over oysters.

black olive tapenade

continued from page 25

7-8 oz pitted Calamata olives 5 olive oil packed anchovies 1 tbsp capers, drained 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced 1 tsp lemon juice 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine olives, anchovies, capers, thyme and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and process until blended to a thick paste. Add the olive oil, a little at a time, until the tapenade is smooth but non oily. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.

spring radishes with butter and salt

This is a classic French combination that is simple to prepare and complements a range of aperitifs. Be sure to select young radishes with the greens intact. The white-tipped French variety can often be found at local farmers markets in late spring: the fresher, the better. Discard any large or yellowed leaves and snip the root at the tip. Serve with a pat or two of butter, a teaspoon of salt, and a couple of slices of baguette on each plate. Large bunch of young radishes Unsalted butter Coarse salt Crusty baguette

varieties, a cherry variety and a whopping nine varieties of paste tomatoes. “Take a fresh slicing tomato, warm from the garden, and put it on homemade bread with mayonnaise and some arugula,” Dianne recommends, “I mean, there’s nothing better than that!” She loves the variety and seasonality of growing. “Once August comes and everything is in bloom, you go up to the garden and figure out what’s for dinner based on what’s ready.” Harold is excited for this season’s broccoli and cabbage. Val likes the corn and says she could spend the day sitting out in the pea patch snacking. They both love Brussels sprouts and are also excited to grow squash to make baby food for a new grandbaby. They also have peach, pear, and apple trees in their front yard, and hope to add some highbush blueberries to the mix this year. The couple looks forward to using the new greenhouse built onto the front of their house this season. Harold, who works in construction, built the greenhouse using mostly scrap lumber and old windows that were bound for the dump. The greenhouse is spacious with raised beds where the tomatoes and other crops will be planted and a cold frame for starting seedlings. Inspired by Maine gardener Elliot Coleman’s books like Four Season Harvest, they hope to grow fresh produce in the greenhouse year round. Val looks forward to having a salad garden just a step away from the kitchen. Whatever size your garden is—from a single flower pot on your front step or windowsill to a plot at a community garden or a market-sized garden—there’s something satisfying, relaxing, and fulfilling in growing your own food. It’s great to see so many people discovering the joys of gardening, and hopefully is a sign of an even stronger local food system to come. So talk to other gardeners, learn from one another, and enjoy the fresh flavors of garden grown goods. Happy growing! R

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Western Maine Timberlands is a full service sustainable timber harvesting and forest management company servicing Maine and New Hampshire landowners. We pride ourselves in working closely with landowners to ensure your goals are met. Working with us eliminates multiple contracts and high commissions—generating a higher return to you the landowner. Our staff includes a licensed professional Forester as well as a Maine Master Logger. Why choose anyone else? Call us today for your Free Timberland Assessment and find out what your land holds for you. Reach us by phone at 207-925-1138 or e-mail us from the link at our Web site:

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We have everything you need for your next project. • Sand • Screened Loam • Crushed Stone • Crushed Gravel 375 Pequawket Trail Brownfield, ME • Reclaimed Asphalt Locally Owned & Operated and much more!

207-452-8888 See our full price list at: CALL FOR DELIVERY

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