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FREE fall 2018 • vol. 21, no. 3

Setting the Stage only a camp handful of hikes high & tight spirited maine


This home has it all! Magnificent Mt. Washington views in a paved upscale subdivision with privacy, nestled in the mountains. Custom built by Main Eco Homes, tastefully designed and decorated. Being sold mostly furnished. Featuring open-concept, single-level living, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom. Master suite with custom tile shower and walk-in closet. Finished lower level for entertaining with mahogany wet-bar and wine cellar. (2) gas fireplaces, whole-home audio system, fitness area, attached 2 car garage. Large sun deck and screen porch with westerly sunsets. Whole-house automatic start generator, monitored by video surveillance and security system equipment. MLS#-1351095

7 Gerry Circle, Sweden, Maine

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Bernadette McIver At The Lakes Real Estate (207) 653-5366 bernadette@mainelakes.com


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editor’s note

I sometimes wonder to what degree instincts are immediate or are informed by experience. No doubt there’s a little of both that drives those decisions that simply “feel right.” And in both cases, we tend to heed our senses and ignore our intellect. It’s how dowsers and alchemists have operated for centuries and how I increasingly find myself making decisions. This is not to say that I’m willing to make a major life decision based on dowsing, but I appreciate the process and outcome of decisions that I reach by tapping into the quiet and subtle wisdom of my instincts. There’s a knowingness in the process that I don’t get through rationalization, which is usually my brain telling me what it wants to hear. Positioning a house on the land based on what the land tells you, or determining where to fell a tree by observing the forest around it, or concluding carrot juice would make an intriguing gin all strike me as decisions that were informed by instinct, which by the way is derived from the Latin word instinctus, meaning impulse, and is currently defined as a natural or intuitive way of acting or thinking. In each case, experience surely had a hand, but I suspect the sense of getting it right belongs purely to the moment. In his brilliant book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell put it this way: “if we are to learn to improve the quality of the decisions we make, we need to accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgements. We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that—sometimes—we’re better off that way.” I couldn’t agree more. —Laurie LaMountain Editor & Publisher Laurie LaMountain Staff Writers Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Perri Black Photographers Megan Booth, Ethan McNerney, Elyssa Cohen, Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Tom Minervino, Mick Early 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. lakelivingmaine.com e-mail: lakeliving@fairpoint.net ©2018. 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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fall 2018 • vol. 21, no. 3

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6 only a camp

by laurie lamountain

10 a handful of hikes

by leigh macmillen hayes

12 setting the stage

by laurie lamountain with helen archer

14 high & tight

by leigh macmillen hayes

17 a better home 18 for the love of trees

by leigh macmillen hayes

21 spiritied maine

by laurie lamountain

24 chutney: the

cover photo by megan booth mboothphotography.com

uncommon condiment by perri black


The Place to Shop for the Season Ahead!

A wonderful mix of women’s clothing and accessories, both for every day and special occasions. You’ll also find tasteful homewares and decor, including lovely “Made in Maine” items. Fashionable jewelry and accessories, bargain books, an array of affordable and fun finds—so perfect for holiday gifting!

CRAFTWORKS

main street, bridgton • open seven days • 207.647.5436

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Only a Camp text by laurie lamountain photos by ethan mcnerney

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hen John Cole was approached by the Donnelly family to design a vacation home on a pond in Waterford, Maine, he was impressed by the simplicity and specificity of their needs. Jean Donnelly, in particular, determined the parameters of what was necessary and what was not. “It’s only a camp. I don’t want the double sink. I don’t want the master bedroom. I want the smallest bedrooms you can make and I want a place where we can all gather inside and big porches on both sides,” he recalls her saying when they first sat down to discuss the project. “One of the most effective ways to make a house feel like it’s part of the landscape is to keep the roof pitches low and bring them down as close to the ground as you can,” says John. “It makes it look like it came up from the land, instead of like it got dropped out of the sky.”

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The Waterford property was by no means new to Jean and her husband. When they bought it in the ‘80s, they had five children between the ages of ten and sixteen. They were looking for a summer place where the kids could “range free,” something they were accustomed to doing on the couple of acres around their home in Carlisle, Massachusetts, and the place above the pond—with its collection of primitive camps they dubbed Cooking, Sleeping and Crafts—fit the bill. “The thing I found most attractive was that they were all old camp buildings and there was nothing you could do to hurt them,” says Jean. “My husband leveled some of the buildings and sanitation needs were met, but beyond that there wasn’t a lot of fussing.” Then, a little more than a year ago, Jean and one of her now-grown sons, Larry, started brainstorming about building something that would accommodate their expanding family and perhaps provide a few more creature comforts than they had been accustomed to for the past thirty-something years. Jean’s husband, Joe, happily left the project in Jean and Larry’s capable hands. Jean researched architects in southern Maine and landed on John Cole Architect. Something about him felt like he was “the right fit.” She recalls that when she and Larry met John at the property to determine where exactly to

build, she and Larry had their ideas, but John nailed it. “He put it in the right place.” When it came to design, John proposed a Japanese temple style with combination hip and gable roof that stretches across the property like a cat. An open farmer’s porch surrounds the main entrance on the uphill side of the camp and a large, screened-in porch flanks the pond-facing side. “One of the most effective ways to make a house feel like it’s part of the landscape is to keep the roof pitches low and bring them down as close to the ground as you can,” says John. “It makes it look like it came up from the land, instead of like it got dropped out of the sky.” The hip and gable roof also allows for cozier, more intimate spaces on either end of the house. On one end there’s a Jøtul wood stove set on a slate hearth in a recessed space lined with stone tiles. John envisioned windows on either side of the wood stove and Jean didn’t. “I won on that one,” she says. But she’s quick to point out that it was very much a collaborative effort. She refers to it as a three-legged stool in which it all came together because the owner, builder and designer respected one another and worked together for the good of the project. Other things Jean was very specific about were square footage (not more than 1400) and that there be three bedrooms, one and a half baths and loft space above the kitchen. One thing she was sure she didn’t want was closets in the bedrooms. Stays are rarely more than a few days at a time and Jean knows her kids; she maintains that if they have closets to put stuff into, they’re likely to leave that stuff in there.


“Another one of my rules is you can bring anything with you, but if you don’t take it with you, it becomes common property,” says Jean. Not having closets also kept the relatively small footprint of the bedrooms (10’x14’) from becoming even smaller. Above each bedroom door is a ventilating transom that contributes to the low-tech cooling system John devised with a combination of awning windows in the gable ends, overhead fans, and the transoms. Even though it’s a hot, high-humidity day in July when we visit, it’s cool and dry inside. There’s nothing flashy about the camp, but the details give it a quiet quality that emphasizes its connection with the land. On John’s suggestion, the Donnellys hired Damon Builders, Inc., custom home builders based in Mechanic Falls. After launching a construction company in 1984 that grew very quickly and successfully, brothers Jared and Jon Damon made the pivotal decision in the mid-‘90s to scale back by committing to work on only one project at a time, as a team that includes owner, architect, carpenters and subcontractors. It was the right decision for them because it allowed them to bring an even higher level of craftsmanship to their work and give homeowners the attention they deserve. Even though the Donnellys were hundreds of miles away throughout most of the construction, which began last summer and finished at the end of May, they received daily updates from lead carpenter Randy Thurston and finish carpenter Joel Carlton that gave them the confidence the project was progressing as they envisioned it. Because budget and functionality were key concerns for Jean, it was important for the team to come to consensus on what was essential and what was not. There are no complicated mechanicals in the house because Jean wanted it to be easy to shut down in November and open back up in early May. The Jøtul stove model they chose, a Greenville, comfortably heats the 1400 square feet of space in colder months and electric baseboard heaters in the bedrooms and bathrooms provide a supplemental heat source to take the edge off chilly mornings. The money they didn’t spend on an expensive, high-maintenance heating and cooling system was instead allocated for blown-in dense pack cellulose in the walls and spray foam insulation in the roof. In combination with John’s design for cross ventilation, the house stays cool on hot days and holds the heat on colder days. lakelivingmaine .com

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The connection to the outdoors is evident throughout. Two sets of sliding glass doors in the kitchen/living area allow views to the pond as well as access to the screened-in porch that overlooks it. On the porch itself, which is more like an exterior great room, the lower half of the screens are reinforced with welded wire mesh to provide safety without obstructing the view. The farmer’s porch on the other side of the camp is a great spot to sit and watch kids and grandkids play games in the front yard. The loft above the stairwell, accessed by a wooden ship’s ladder that can be moved flush to the wall when not in use, provides a treehouse-like sleeping space for the grandchildren. On the basement level, a garage door on the lake-facing side opens into a large storage space for canoes and kayaks. Plumbing has been installed for a future outdoor shower station below the stairs. Because there is regular traffic flow between the pond and the camp, Jean also wanted to build in features that would make it easy to keep things clean. Another one of her rules (let’s face it, with five kids you pretty much have to have them) is to leave the camp at least as nice as you found it. Plastic laminate countertops (trade name Formica®) and hardwood floors make clean up quick and easy. Keeping the floor plan unclut-

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tered and the color palette uncomplicated also helps that effort. The one pop of color in an otherwise neutral palette of wood, stone and off-white walls is provided by the custom kitchen cabinets that Joel built. John insisted they should be cranberry red and he won on this one. Jean recalls saying to him in the end, “You know, John, you had the endurance and you finally convinced me.” It’s a testament to Jean’s three-legged stool theory, in which you have an owner who knows what she wants, an architect who takes that information and builds it into the land, and a builder who translates it into the structure. Asked what she likes best about the outcome of her camp on the pond in Maine, she pauses for a moment on the other end of the line before answering. I imagine she’s making a mental scan of the camp to decide which architectural or structural detail gives her the most pleasure, so I’m not quite prepared when she answers. “I think what I like best is the feeling that I get when I sit on the porch. There you are, up in the trees. I can sit there with my beer or lemonade or coffee and see the glimmer of the lake below. It’s everything my life isn’t here. It’s quiet.” The way life should be . . . at least once in a while. R


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A Handful of Hikes by leigh macmillen hayes

Long Mountain

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ith time comes change. Knowing that, Marita Wiser has once again updated Hikes & Woodland Walks in and around Maine’s Lakes Region. The first edition of Marita’s book was published in 1993. At the time, she worked as a reporter for the Bridgton News. During the summer, reporters and staff members contributed articles to the Summer Scene section about things to do in the area that would be of interest to visitors. Others wrote about theater, local road trips, and gardening, but there was nothing about local hikes. Always an avid hiker, Marita started a column highlighting a different trail each week. Readers responded favorably and some even discovered trails they had not heard of before. After several years

Red Tail Trail

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of writing her column, and with a blessing from the Shorey family who owned the Bridgton News at the time, she compiled her articles into a self-published book. Fortunately, over the years between editions of her guide book, land trusts and other conservation-minded people or groups have created and opened many new trails. While the book size has remained the same at 9.25” x 4” and 68 pages, some hikes are deleted with each addition and new ones added. Because this is not a comprehensive guide that provides a rather dry description, such as “hike five miles to such and such a point, turn east . . .” Marita chooses to editorialize and only include hikes she enjoys. For each of these, she gives a personal and historical perspective you won’t find in the bigger guide books or online. To make sure her descriptions are correct, she explores all of the trails repeatedly. Says Marita, “It’s fun keeping up with the hikes and locating new trails. We’re fortunate that there are always great places to go for any time frame or difficulty. And many of them are uncrowded.” Before I tell you more about the sixth edition, let me say that Marita and I have been friends for a long time and I’ve hiked with her often. I suppose you might deem my review as being biased. It is. As in previous editions, trail descriptions are organized based on location as listed in the table of contents found on the inside front and back covers. Marita has rated the trails according to difficulty, making it easy for the

user to decide which to hike. Two green circles = easiest; one green circle = easy; blue square = moderate; blue square/black diamond = moderately difficult; black diamond = hard. The differentiation between easiest and easy was made to help hikers decide between a well-worn and fairly even path such as at Holt Pond Preserve in South Bridgton and Mount Tir’em in Waterford where the terrain varies, but it still isn’t enough of an elevation change to meet Marita’s guidelines for a blue square such as Mount Will in Bethel, or a black diamond trail like those ascending Mount Chocorua. In the previous edition, Marita rated Mount Cutler in Hiram as moderate. I actually had a brain freeze there and couldn’t put mind over matter and get to the summit. I was stuck in one spot for at least a half hour before feeling a slight bit of bravery and making my way down. She has since marked it as moderately difficult and described it thus, “The main trail switchbacks through the ledges where some rock scrambling is required. Take special care through here; there are some places where the hill drops off. It may be too hard and unsafe for toddlers, some dogs, or adults who are not agile.” She was kind not to add “or those who suffer a moment of frozen panic, afraid to go up or down.” Each trail description includes directions, distances, time allotment, difficulty and often history. I think knowing the history of the place is extremely valuable so you can better understand the features around you.


ethan mcnerney

Jockey Cap

For instance, though you may have heard the local lore about Jockey Cap in Fryeburg once having a ledge that looked like a visor on a hat, did you know that in 1936 a rope tow was installed and it was the site of the first ski slope in Maine? “The slope was even lit at night. Lift tickets cost $1 per day,” notes Marita. One of the local favorites, Pleasant Mountain, receives a five-page spread as she describes the various trails and even includes an old photograph of the Pleasant Mountain Hotel. Standing at the summit, I often imagine the horses and stage coaches that carried visitors up the Firewarden’s trail, that is after they’d arrived by steam-

boat, having followed the Cumberland and Oxford Canal from Portland to Harrison. Their journey makes any hike we take seem so easy. Well, maybe not, but still. In addition to local history, Marita has freshened this edition up by adding “The Lure.” What is there about a trail that might attract you to it? She spells out those features, such as “wheelchair accessible,” “plenty of vertical cardio workout,” “interesting old foundation,” and “the Rock Castle.” There are more, but you’ll need to purchase the book to read them all. The centerfold provides an overview of all the areas Marita writes about. In this latest edition, the map is in color and pinpoints

Fall Foliage Hikes Valentine Farm Accessible Trail

Beginning and ending at the Mahoosuc Land Trust headquarters, this loop trail moseys through a mixed forest beside a tributary of the Androscoggin River and open fields. Trailhead Access: Mahoosuc Land Trust office, 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. Difficulty: Easiest

Jockey Cap

A short hike offering a great view of Lovewell Pond and the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire. At the summit, a bronze and granite monument shows the names of the mountains seen in the panoramic view. Trailhead Access: Quinn’s Jockey Cap Store, 116 Bridgton Road, Fryeburg, ME. Difficulty: Easy

Shell Pond Loop Trail

The three mile loop is privately owned, but open to the public and protected under a conservation easement by the

Greater Lovell Land Trust, except where signs indicate differently. The views are breathtaking. A side tour includes Rattlesnake Gorge and the ever chilly Rattlesnake Pool. Trailhead Access: 1.5 miles to end of Stone House Road off Route 113, Stow, ME. Difficulty: Easy

Red Tail Trail

Though it’s a single-track mountain bike trail, the route is open to hikers. The lower section follows Kearsarge Brook, and then switchbacks up the backside of Cranmore Mountain to an area where the views are stunning. The trail connects with the Black Cap Trail, allowing for a five-mile round trip hike. Trailhead Access: Hurricane Mountain Road, North Conway, NH. Difficulty: Moderate

Long Mountain Trail

Privately owned but open to the public, this trail is well-blazed as it crosses

not only where each trail is located, but its degree of difficulty symbol as well. Numbers on the map correlate with page numbers for the hike description. Color photographs are another new addition, but I’m glad that Marita kept some classics including a few of her daughters that were taken twenty years ago. And while she begins the book with a variety of hiking tips about everything from water, food, trash, and clothing to ticks, hunting, cell phone coverage (or lack of), and trail markings, she ends with information on how to order more copies of the book. One more thing I like about this book is that it’s a local effort with Marita’s writing, her mother’s sketches, an old friend’s work on the map, my editing skills, Laurie LaMountain’s design, and production of the final product at Cardinal Printing/Minuteman Press in Denmark. You may purchase a copy of Hikes & Woodland Walks in and around Maine’s Lakes Region, which is printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, at your local shop, including Bridgton Books where it’s long been a best seller. One of the key selling points their staff makes is that on the inside back cover, a map of Maine and New Hampshire shows that the hikes cross the boundary between the two states—it’s a healthy handful of hikes and walks “in and around” the Lakes Region—really. R

through a wetland and follows Mill Brook before climbing to ledges that look toward the White Mountains beyond and Round Mountain nearby. Trailhead Access: Vernon Street, Albany, ME. Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Kearsarge North

The last fire tower in the White Mountain National Forest is part of the lure of this trail that gradually becomes rockier and steeper. The 360˚ views are another reason to make the six-mile round trip hike. Trailhead Access: Hurricane Mountain Road, North Conway, NH. Difficulty: Moderately Difficult

Mount Chocorua

Though there are several trails to the summit, Marita recommends ascending via the steeper Brook Trail and descending by way of the easier Liberty Trail. Though it is challenging, the views from the summit are well worth the journey. Trailhead Access: Paugus Mill Road, Albany, New Hampshire. Difficulty: hard lakelivingmaine .com

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Setting the Stage text by laurie lamountain photos by elyssa cohen

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o homeowner who has made the decision to list their home wants to hear that it doesn’t show well. After all, your home is a reflection of you and if it doesn’t look right, well, what does that say about you? In all honesty, it may reveal that you’re incredibly busy or that you have kids and/or pets or that you’ve lived in your house for a very long time, which pretty much covers everyone. In 1972, a woman named Barb Schwarz took all of these considerations into account when she entered the world of residential real estate and quickly discovered the challenges realtors face when working with clients to prepare their home for sale. She realized she had two very important tools in her belt to work with; the first one being that the career she left behind was interior design and the

“A well-staged home should make potential buyers surprised by what they can afford. Anything going on the market in our area for $200,000 or over would be worth staging.”

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second one being that she had a background in theater and set design. The combination led her to the brilliant idea of “staging the home for sale,” a phrase she coined and for which she holds a registered trademark on the word “Stage” in the U.S. and Canada as it pertains to preparing a house for sale. Barb reasoned that asking homeowners to imagine their home as a stage to be set for a performance would be met with much less resistance than would telling them their house was filled with too many tchotchkes and smelled of cat litter boxes. And she was right. Fast forward almost fifty years and home staging has grown into an international industry in which professional stagers provide an essential link between homeowners and realtors. According to a 2018 home staging statistics survey conducted by Home Staging Resource, over 97% of buyer’s agents responded that staging has at least some effect on the buyer’s view of the home and over half (58%) of seller’s agents believed staging increased the value of the home. Furthermore, the percentage of home sellers who are paying to have their home staged before listing it is growing, with the reason being that statistics show that staged houses sell faster and for more money. Statistics aside, we thought you might want to hear from a Maine home stager/ designer what the pluses and minuses are when it comes to staging or redesigning your

home, particularly if you are still living in a house you’re selling, and especially if you have young kids, pets and too much “stuff.” Helen Weston Archer took on her first big design project at seventeen, when she helped her parents design and decorate their new house, and it’s been her passion ever since. She has successfully taken on projects big and small—from finding a way to put a full kitchen in a Paris apartment wardrobe, to restoring an early Victorian row house to its original glory, to designing, building, decorating and then staging the 5000 sq. ft. lakefront home on the cover of this issue (it sold in two days.) As owner of Take Two Design, LLC, Helen is sensitive to the fact that renovating, redesigning or putting a house up for sale can be very stressful. Ideally, the home stager is there to support the homeowner and make the agent’s job easier by helping the homeowner do what needs to be done and understand why it needs to be done. The idea behind this exchange is that the more you know about staging and what to expect ahead of time, the smoother the process will be for everyone involved. How would you define home staging in a nutshell? Home staging is the nexus between good interior design and advertising. You are putting a home on the market for sale and, like any other product, you need to differentiate from the competition by identifying potential buyers, making sure that the home is going to appeal to them, and packaging it so that it is instantly appealing to the right people. Is there a common approach that you use when you first view and evaluate a house for staging? Yes, very much so. I look at what is unique about the home and what its strengths and weaknesses are. Again, going back to advertising, we want to differentiate from competing homes on the market. Strengths might be high ceilings or a beautiful kitchen; weaknesses might be smaller bathrooms or bedrooms. And we play up the strengths and we play down the weaknesses, but the most important thing of all is making a home photogenic. Every buyer now is going to look at photographs, usually before they even contact an agent, and most of it will be online, so ensuring that a home is eminently photogenic is absolutely critical to making it salable. That involves color, lighting, decluttering and lots of other factors that go into home staging. What happens if your style and the home-


owner’s is diametrically opposed? Staging is not about my style or anybody else’s. What I tell homeowners going right into a staging project is: Your taste is uniquely yours. It’s perfect for you but we’re not selling your taste, we’re selling your house. My job is to make your house appealing to the people who are most likely to buy it. Do you work with the homeowner’s furnishing/decor or bring in your own inventory? It all depends on the home. There are two radically different types of staging. One is an occupied home where I will always work with what a homeowner has as much as I can. Sometimes that involves repositioning furniture and often it involves removing some of the furniture. People tend to have too much in their homes before staging. And I will bring in accessories, primarily for photography, but if things are needed for showing the home, then I’ll leave them. A vacant home is a very different animal. We’re going to bring in accessories and probably rented furniture and stage the home as we feel it will appeal to the most likely buyer demographic. People tend to see space in terms of visual obstacles. In other words, if we walk into an empty room, the room will always appear smaller than it will if it’s at least partially furnished. Because we are visual and our primary means of survival is vision, we are hardwired to look for obstacles and therefore we are always looking beyond the obstacles, so what you’re doing by positioning things in empty homes is drawing the

eye further into the home. That, and you’re also setting the stage for someone to imagine what their own play looks like on that stage. And that’s really what it’s about. How do you work with color? We each have different interpretations of colors because we associate them with things that have happened in our lives or places we’ve been where that color was present, but by and large there’s a fairly effective rule that cooler colors are more restful, and therefore more neutral, and warmer colors tend to be more open to interpretation. So for base colors I will tend to use cooler blues, greens, beiges, but I will accent those colors with brighter pieces; sofa pillows, a vase here, a chair there that will create an accent in the room. You’re creating an overall atmosphere that is going to draw someone in to imagine what they would do with a house or a room. When you stage, you go from one room to the other and you want to make the whole house feel cohesive. You have a flow and you’re telling a story about the house, but you also want to spark the buyer’s imagination and you need a more neutral canvas to do that than is generally present. Another thing that’s important is scale. People tend to use too many small things, whether it’s pieces of furniture, or accessories or lights. It’s also true of artwork. When we stage, we go for fewer and larger objects. It’s more restful to the eye. There is a perception that we are depersonalizing when we stage and that’s true to

some extent, but to a large extent personal memorabilia, photographs and so on, are small objects that are busy. What advice would you offer to a homeowner who is considering or has committed to having their home staged for sale? You need to make an emotional separation between yourself and the house by consciously deciding that you have already moved on and are simply there for the duration of the sale. Instead, you can imagine your new surroundings and focus on how you want those to be. One thing that people often forget is that selling a home, whether or not you stage, always involves expense. There are always repairs that are overdue and updating to be done and it could be anything from repairing a bathroom faucet to replacing heating or repainting the whole house. A home that is neat is automatically seen as well cared for. Selling your house is a big decision and there’s uncertainty about where you are going and what it’s going to look like. The other thing is that selling a house is the biggest transaction most people will ever make so there’s financial stress as well. Good stagers understand that it is a very stressful transition. My job is to help ease that process, along with a good agent, and to maximize the financial benefit of that transition and transaction. Staged homes sell more quickly and they sell for 8 to 10% more on average nationwide. The cost of staging is far outweighed by the increase in closing price. R For more information visit taketwodesignmaine.com lakelivingmaine .com

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Lhigh &tigh L G

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by leigh macm illen hay es

n Ancient Rome, daily visits to the tonsor for a clean shave were a way of life. And during the Middle Ages, one could have a tooth pulled, surgery performed, and hair cut all by the same man. Today, we know them as barbers who cut or trim hair, offer shaves and throw in some good advice whether asked for it or not. To locate an open barbershop, just look for the spiraling red, white and blue pole. While it’s easy to assume that the colors stand for the American flag, the poles actually reference the history of the trade, when the barber was also a dentist/surgeon. As part of his work, he used leeches to perform bloodletting. The bloody bandages were washed and hanged out on a pole to dry. A breeze often caused the bandages to wrap around the pole, staining it red in the process. To commemorate the former tradition, the color blue was included on modern day poles to represent veins and the silver basin at the bottom signified a bowl into which the blood would have drained.  From the end of the 19th century to World War II, the poles were frequently seen, as barbershops were as popular as the neighborhood bar. 

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And then . . . life changed. Safety razors came onto the market. They were government-issued during the war and the Gillette company mass-marketed them because they were safer than the straight-edge razor barbers traditionally used and less expensive than the daily or weekly shave at the shop. At-home haircutting kits also appeared and mom took over the task of using clippers.

Certainly, the safety razors were a healthier choice in terms of cleanliness. According to the National Barber Museum’s Website, “A shop consisted of a straightbacked chair with a head piece resembling a crutch, a basin of water, a piece of common soap and a brush, setting chairs, and enough towels to last a week. One towel to every ten or twelve customers.” Shared soap and towels would have today’s health-conscious generation squirming. But still, the concept of the barbershop hung on, despite challenges other than the safety razor, including a smaller clientele pool, the hippy generation and shaggier hair styles, and then the advent of unisex salons.  Today, loyal customers and a new generation looking for a customized men-only experience, have helped keep the tradition going and in the lakes region business is steady. As any man who has sat in the waiting area of a barbershop can attest, these are places where world issues are resolved, jokes shared, and gossip repeated. Men like the social outlet a barbershop offers and chance to escape the stresses of everyday life.  Dan Keef, owner of Dan’s Barbershop in Casco, entered the barbering business forty-six years ago when he wondered what he might do after the Navy. His grandfather had been a barber and it seemed like something he could try so he attended Hanson’s Barber School in Lewiston.  As a student, Dan remembered that his first shave was a drunken man. The clients didn’t pay for a student cut or shave. He said the man was so inebriated that he jumped up in the middle of the shave, which was with a straight razor. “I cut him across the throat. All he was bleeding was alcohol.”


Once he passed the State exam, Dan never used a straight razor on a face again, though he did shave around clients’ ears and the back of their necks with one until the early 1980s. When Dan first started barbering, the style was crew cuts until Beatlemania caught hold and longer hair was all the rage. Over the years, hairstyles have changed and the price has risen a bit, but still the business grows. Waiting customers sit quite close to Dan or his part-time employee, Denise, as they cut from behind the Belmont barber chair, allowing for a natural exchange of banter. “Barbering is the best job I ever had,” said Dan. “I get to talk to people all day.” He’s heard everything from life stories, births, weddings, and deaths to good and bad neighbors. “People think guys don’t say much, but with the right person, they talk,” he added. One of his customers, Michael of southern France and Casco, Maine, described Dan as a computer on sneakers. “He remembers everything; he remembers every detail.”  Dan’s wife, Deb, attested to that, “It’s hard to take him anywhere because he knows every other person he sees. He either cut their hair, or their father’s or grandfather’s.”  “To be good, you have to remember everybody,” said Dan. “I’m good at memorizing, though I did call a kid Sean for the last ten years. When he turned ten, he told me his name wasn’t Sean.”  The sense of community created in a barbershop continues to thrive, but with one major change. Many of today’s barbers are women.  Denise has been cutting hair part-time for the past two years at Dan’s shop. “Men say, ‘You’re not Dan,’” she said, “And I reply, ‘Nope, I’m his twin.’” Minus about thirty years, that is.  The same is true for Stephanie Cousins, proprietor of Steph’s Barbershop in Fryeburg. Steph was looking for work, raising three kids and trying to make mortgage payments when she took her youngest son into Phil’s Barbershop on Oxford Street twentythree years ago. “I asked him, ‘If I went to barber school, would you hire me?’”  Halfway through the barber school course in Lewiston, Phil asked if she’d be interested in purchasing his shop. Once she graduated, they worked together for three weeks and then she was on her own.  When Phil introduced her to customers, some said, “I’m never going to have a woman cut my hair.” They returned the next week.  Steph’s shop has a vintage atmosphere.

Customers sit in old barber chairs to wait their turn. Some of the chairs and photos on the wall came from former barbers, including Glenwood Libby of Fryeburg, and Clarence Spinney and Roy Marston of Bridgton. As she cut the hair of thirteen-year-old Nick, his dad, Seth, leaned on a counter and chatted with Steph about a recent vacation she remembered. Seth then turned to me and said that growing up, he’d lived down the street and Phil Trott had been his barber. He had told Nick that he remembered how Mr. Trott always had lollipops in a certain cupboard. To his delight, the first time he went to Steph’s, he opened the same cupboard door and there sat a full basket of Tootsie Pops. After Nick stepped down and grabbed a lollipop, Akos of Hungary, who worked in the kitchen of a local sports camp, took a seat. “I travelled 6,000 miles to come here,” he joked.  Akos tried to explain in English that he wanted three millimeters cut off the longer hair on top and the sides clipped quite short. It was a different style than Steph had seen but that didn’t daunt her. After taking off a bit on one side, she swung the chair around so Akos could examine the length. He  approved, and then tried to find the words to explain how he wanted the top tapered. Dora, his girlfriend, pointed her fingers together forming an inverted V and said, “Cut

the sides of the top shorter, like a roof.” Once finished, Steph asked Dora, “Does this have a name?” Dora smiled and said, “Hungarian style.” Akos grinned and said, “Traditional Hungarian.” Another area barbershop now run by a female is Ed’s Barbershop in Norway, Maine. Ed Damon opened the shop sixty years ago and served people from all over the world. He used to visit local camps to cut the boys’ hair. Many of those former campers continue to visit the area and always make a point of stopping in for a cut when they are in town.  When Ed passed away in November of 2016 at age 80, Tina Alexander was there to fill his shoes. She began working for Ed after completing cosmetology school. Since Maine no longer had a barber school, she asked Ed about becoming his apprentice for a year in order to earn her barber’s license. He took her under his wings and they worked side by side until his passing.  “Working with Ed was great,” said Tina. “He was brilliant with barbering and people. He treated people fairly in all aspects from pricing to relationships. He would even do some home visits because he said, ‘They came to me all those years; if they can’t come to me anymore, I’ll go to them.’”  As she spoke about her former mentor, Tina’s eyes filled with tears. Ed continued to work with her after she purchased the shop lakelivingmaine .com

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from him and she kept the name. “He never asked me to keep it,” said Tina, “but it was the right thing to do.” She also continued to do things the way Ed always wanted them done, including taking only walk-ins. Since his passing, she has made a few updates including hot towel treatments, hot shaves around the ears and neck, and a mini massage at the end. Like Steph, Tina offers the traditional lollipops for kids. Plus, on Friday mornings muffins and cookies baked next door at Happi Chicks Bake Shop are available. Last year, Tina began renting a chair to a young man named Oni, then Courtney joined the team. With the three of them, there’s plenty of back and forth chitchat and teasing. Chris and Will, a father and son visiting from Vermont, sit in the original Belmont chairs from 1958. I asked Will, age ten, what he thought of a cut at a barbershop. “I think they give better haircuts than my parents would.” Chris chuckled and explained, “I picked up the clippers at home one day and didn’t really know how to use them. I got halfway up and Will was bald on one side. Immediately, I realized I had to stop. ‘Quick, I need to take you to the barbershop so Mom doesn’t flip out.’” After the laughter died down, Oni said that not long ago barbers were a dying breed, but men have started to return to them.  “I was taught to educate the clients about what you are using. I clipped Will’s hair with a number 5, faded high and tapered,” said Oni. By telling people what they’ve done, if a guy wants the same cut from a different barber, he can tell how the last one cut his hair. Of the four shops I visited, Gary Gomes, the Barber of Bridgton, has been on the local scene the shortest amount of time—since 2010. Gary, however, began barbering on

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Cape Cod in 1977. “I went to barbering school out of laziness,” he says. “Though I was accepted, I didn’t want to go to college.” On the first day of barbershop school, he received the cheapest set of tools and was instructed how to hold them. On the second day, a homeless person sat in the chair and while a supervisor watched and offered advice, Gary took scissors and tried cutting over the comb. Once he’d finished the cut, he used the clippers to clean up the

edges. “That second day was to force us to get up the nerve to cut,” he said. “They wouldn’t give us someone who required some experience; it was just a basic cut to get up the nerve.” Afternoon classroom sessions included barber history, anatomy, physiology, sterilization, sanitation, and anything else necessary to pass the State exam. Even though the inside shop is large and outfitted with comfortable chairs and largescreen TVs, all of Gary’s equipment is on wheels so that when the weather cooperates, he can set up shop on the porch. There is even a putting green and a couple of board games to keep one occupied, although waiting is not customary since the Barber of Bridgton will only take walk-ins if there happens to be an opening. Gary doesn’t want people to drive to his shop only to discover it isn’t open or they have a long wait, so appointments are highly recommended. While the resurgence of barbershops may be due to the return of short cuts that are easy to maintain, I think it’s also about the people and the place. In this era of impersonal service, the camaraderie found in a traditional barbershop is most welcome. Loyal customers return on a biweekly basis and say they want the usual. “High and tight,” said Steph. R


A Better Home Add these five easy pieces for under $20 to make your home more eco-friendly.

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1. Washable, reusable bee’s wax wraps are a natural alternative to plastic wrap. Made from materials you can feel good about, like bee’s wax, jojoba oil, tree resin, and 100% cotton. Find Vermont-made Bee’s Wrap® at Craftworks in Bridgton or, made even closer to home, Worth the Wait Farm wraps in Denmark, ME.

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2. ECOBAGS® 100% cotton produce bags are a reusable alternative to single-use plastics. Made by a Fair Wage/Fair Labor Certified B corporation, so you can feel good about your purchase. Priced right from $3.99 - $18.75 and available locally at Spice & Grain in Fryeburg. 3. Reusable utensils from T0-Go Ware take the guilt out of eating on the go. Made from responsibly-sourced bamboo, they are the perfect take-along for picnics, camping trips, lunch boxes and day trips. $5.70 a set at Spice & Grain in Fryeburg.

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4. Unni® 100% compostable and BPA-free trash bags are made from plants and are US BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) and European VINCETTE certified to meet stringent municipal, industrial and backyard composting requirements. Box of 20 33-gallon trash bags $15.95 at unni.world. 5. Human Nature of Maine Natural Laundry soap powder provides a low-sudsing alternative to its chemically-laden counterparts, and all you need is 1 to 2 tablespoons per regular load! Heavenly scents like lavender and Siberian fir make doing laundry a pleasure. $6.80 for a 2.5 lb. bag at Spice & Grain in Fryeburg.

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For the Love of Trees by leigh macmillen hayes

S

ince I was a kid, I’ve been climbing trees,” said Josh Blechman of J & C Tree in Fryeburg, Maine. “Everyone else stopped, but I kept going.” You can take that to read Josh continued to climb, which he did, or . . . Josh climbed higher into the crown of the tree, which he does. Josh is a hands-on kind of guy with an incredible understanding of the inner and outer workings of the natural world, especially as related to tree science. At age twenty-two, he hitchhiked from his hometown on Long Island, New York, to the West Coast, his only companion, a dog. Along the way, he found work on a farm in Oregon. The farmer soon realized Josh’s work ethic and began to give him more tasks to accomplish, which included dropping spruce trees and bringing lengths of wood to the mill. “I see the tree and its structure as a fishing line, taking it down piece by piece. It’s four minutes of suspense at first, not knowing if it will go where it’s supposed to go. It’s scary as hell going up there. Once at the highest point, however, everything is calm.”

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Josh’s journey eventually continued on to Alaska, where at age 25 he lived in the Bush and used a chainsaw until it ran out of gas. Crosscut saws and other hand tools became an extension of his body. After he left the Bush, his next stop was at the Tongass National Forest, where he became chainsaw certified and received more hands-on training in the art of felling trees. A relationship brought him back East, and he returned to Long Island to work alongside friends for a tree climbing arborist who was a minimalist and didn’t use blocks or rigging devices to accomplish technical work. “I learned from a guy who had twenty-five years of experience running a million dollar company,” said Josh. “He never taught you, but let you have the freedom to be able to make your own mistakes and experience the consequences when you made the wrong decision. In an unforgiving industry, there’s potential for not being able to get a second chance, That can’t be taught.” He paused, then added, “And he didn’t judge.” Eventually the Long Island congestion got to Josh and he decided to move North. With the purchase of a 1987 pickup truck and a six-inch chipper, he started his business, J & C Tree, in Lincoln/North Woodstock, New Hampshire. The J is obvious, but C stands for Charlie, his beloved dog.

Quite often, Josh found himself driving from Lincoln to Conway because that’s where the work was, and he spent many a night camping on the Kancamagus Highway. In 2014, he relocated to Fryeburg to be closer to and better serve his clientele. As a certified arborist, Josh first evaluates the well-being of any tree. Trish Curtis of Stoneham explained that during a winter storm several major branches fell from a few tall pines and damaged her camp. She said that before Josh did any cutting, he took the time to fully assess the problems. In her case, he decided the trees should be removed. “He wasn’t quick to cut any tree,” said Trish. “First, he wanted to make sure that they needed to come down. And he didn’t want anything to fall into the lake.” “I err on the side of conservation rather than removal,” explained Josh. For most projects, if the decision is made to remove the tree, he gets dropped into the tiptop from a bucket loader and climbs down to set a pulley. “I see the tree and its structure as a fishing line, taking it down piece by piece. It’s four minutes of suspense at first, not knowing if it will go where it’s supposed to go. It’s scary as hell going up there. Once at the highest point, however, everything is calm. We use a methodical approach; it’s all calculated and there’s no room for fear.


We stick to what we know and go for the process.” Phil Ives of Fryeburg told me that Josh aped his way through a heavily wooded area on his property. “He’s like a magician,” said Phil. “We had a problem with the canopy closing in over our DirecTV satellite dish. The trees weren’t accessible from his truck or lift as they were between 75 and 100 feet from the road. It took Josh about an hour to rope up safely for the job and then he swung from tree to tree until he reached the area that needed to be opened.” Libby Bender of Lovell told me of a tree that she and her husband loved. The land below it was eroding and they feared the worst might happen and it would fall on someone. But, they knew it as The Eagle Tree for a Bald Eagle often perched on it. “Josh had the amazing ability to say, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’m going to take that tree down, but will open up the tree behind it for the eagle to perch.’ He looked at the whole picture, the perspective of the lake and the

surrounding area,” said Libby. “We’re new to being year-round residents and we view ourselves as caretakers of the land. The hundred-year-old pines are gifts. What happens here is our fingerprint. Josh gets that. He has a spiritual sense of the land and trees.” I had the opportunity to watch Josh and his two employees, Brandon and Joe, remove nine trees to create a small opening for another client who wanted to add a solar display to a camp roof in Chatham, New Hampshire. The tree canopy kept the sunlight at bay and so the job required opening sky space with minimal disturbance to the land. While I wasn’t there for the initial topping off of the crown, I did get to see the rest of the process as the men pulled down an oak. Because of its height and size, the trunk needed more than a few wedges to be felled. With a rope installed toward the tip of the remaining trunk, they set up a 2:1 mechanical advantage system using a few pieces of gear. First, they chose a strong anchor (another tree) in the direction that they wanted to pull the oak. Then they attached a redirect and fed the pull rope through it. Next, they tied a frictionless hitch on the leg of the pull line between the oak and the anchor pulley. At that point, it was all about teamwork. Each member had a task. They all donned a hard hat equipped with a wireless intercom system, which they let me test. I was amazed at the crystal clear quality as I carried on a conversation with Brandon and Joe while the skid steer motor hummed and a chainsaw buzzed. Felling a tree requires an element of precision as it needs to be brought down in a controlled manner. It’s important that in the

process, the tree falls in the predicted direction so as to avoid damage to anything that may be around it. Josh cut the initial trunk wedge about a foot above the ground on the side he wanted the tree to fall. As soon as he started to cut on the opposite side, Brandan and Joe grabbed the rope and waited until they felt tension in the line. Then they started to pull, the mechanical advantage providing the force of four. Within mere minutes, the tree fell exactly as planned. Looking at the cut, the oak’s stress was evidenced by the cracks and inner hollowness where ants sought their tunnels to get out of the sudden sunlight. The men began measuring the fallen trunk and sawed it into lengths that would fit into the dump truck bed. Operating the skid steer, Josh moved the heavier chunks of the trunk into the bed first, then continued adding pieces smaller in diameter one by one and eventually in groups as the size decreased. The wood would be stockpiled for a later date when it will get cut into firewood. As they completed the job, I looked at the land and realized it had barely been compromised by their efforts. Yes, nine trees came down, but other trees weren’t damaged in the process. To an undiscerning eye, one might never know that this operation took place, except for the fact that there were a few clean cut stumps visible at ground level and the dirt driveway got raked smooth again after the skid steer finished roughing it up. There’s peril in this job, no doubt. But it’s all about rhythm. The trees, of course, have their own rhythms, much like people. It’s their imperative to grow and spread and seek more light, giving no regard to the consequences—whether internal or external. As an arborist, it’s Josh’s job to understand that rhythm, how the trees respond to their environment, and guide others to recognize it. And then it’s the job of the J & C Tree team to work in a synchronized rhythm as they safely prune limbs or fell and remove trees. “Without my knowing, my whole life was in preparation for doing this,” said Josh. “My work in landscaping, horticulture, forest service, chainsaw experience, I brought it all with me and it gave me a leg up when I started this business.” The J & C Tree team is bound by a strong sense of camaraderie and have dedicated themselves to providing tree care with integrity. The man behind it all is Josh Blechman, who possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and love of trees. R lakelivingmaine .com

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Spirited Maine

ver since my mother determined I was old enough to know that my Russian-born grandfather was known for producing the best vodka in Worcester County, that is until his oldest daughters decided they were doing my grandmother a favor by turning him in, I’ve had a fascination with the distillery trade. Technically, in my grandfather’s case it was bootlegging, but it still meant he knew how to concoct spirits with a still. Unlike wine and beer, spirits require a very specific step beyond fermentation: distillation. To say that there’s alchemy in the process implies a transformation that involves wizards and magic potions and, in a way, there’s truth to that. Alchemy was the mystical precursor to modern chemical engineering and was driven by a desire to unlock the secrets of the universe. The vapor given off and collected during the distillation process was considered a spirit of the original material. The earliest documented uses for distilled alcohol were primarily for ritual and medicine, but eventually—and it took a while—it became recreational and the rest, as they say, is history. Or is it? Recently, spirits have enjoyed a craft renaissance of which Maine is very much a part. With names like Ingenium (which can either mean innate quality or genius) and Alchemy Gin, it’s apparent the latest modern chemical engineers of the spirit world of Maine understand and appreciate the roots of their craft. It makes sense if you think about it. With a return to artisanal approaches to food and drink, there is an attendant need to study and put into practice traditional methods of preparation. You can’t start making spirits without a fundamental understanding of the science behind it. Chances are, in my grandfather’s case it was handed down to him by his father, who learned it from his father, etc., etc. But what’s really exciting about the craft distilling renaissance that’s happening now is that it’s taken it to another level. Here’s how the owners of Split Rock Distilling in Newcastle describe themselves on their website: “When we founded Split Rock, we promised ourselves we would handcraft our

by laurie lamountain

The earliest documented uses for distilled alcohol were primarily for ritual and medicine, but eventually—and it took a while—it became recreational and the rest, as they say, is history.

spirits the right way. That meant the long way: authentic, small batch grain to glass, selling no spirit not our own. We spent evenings and weekends building a distillery and tasting room by hand in an old barn on historic Route One. We sourced organic grains and fruits from the fields of farmers we count as friends. We demanded organic sugars and drew waters so pure locals still harvest winter ice. We refined our fermentations again and again to showcase the unique signatures of our still.” That’s some serious stuff. When Freeport-based Maine Distilleries launched Cold River Vodka in November of 2005, they effectively launched the craft distilling industry in Maine, just as in the lakelivingmaine .com

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1980s David and Karen Geary were the pioneers of Maine’s craft brewing industry. The great idea for Cold River Vodka, however, came from right here in western Maine. The president of Green Thumb Farms, Don Thibodeau, was looking for a way to make their off-grade potatoes profitable and, like me, recalled listening to stories about his father making vodka from potatoes during prohibition. Those stories are what led to the creation of Cold River Vodka. Maine Distilleries has since added Cold River Blueberry Vodka, Cold River Distiller’s Reserve, and Cold River Gin to their line of spirits. Maine Craft Distilling, which is based in Portland and produces the aforementioned Alchemy Gin, Black Cap Barley Spirit, Fifty Stone Whiskey, Ration Rum and a few others, provides this succinct explanation of the distillation process: “To begin the distillation process, you put a batch of fermented liquid into a copper pot. You cap and seal the pot and heat it. As the liquid heats, the alcohol in it boils first (because alcohol boils at the lower temperature than water) and turns to vapor. The alcohol vapors rise up into the head of the still and are then drawn into the arm and then to a coil. The coil is submerged in cool water, which condenses the alcohol back into liquid. The liquid alcohol runs out of the coil and into a collection vessel.” Chesuncook is a unique botanical spirit they produce from a distillation of carrot juice flavored with mountain juniper, mint and coriander for “the most intriguing gin you will ever experience.” And while gin made from carrots may sound off-putting, think about it, is it really any stranger than vodka made from potatoes? Basically, if it grows from the ground, you can probably turn it into spirits. Or in the case of Fifty Stone Whiskey, which gets its “buttery, briny taste” from locally harvested seaweed, from the sea. This is what the early alchemists discovered for us. For traditionalists, Maine Craft Distilling offers Sprigge Barrel Rested Gin. They describe it as a hearty and full flavored gin that places the noble juniper front and center. New England Distilling, also based in Portland, produces the aforementioned Ingenium Gin, as well as Eight Bells Rum, Gunpowder Rye Whiskey, Tidewater Bourbon and Rack IV Saison Whiskey. The owner, Ned Wight, traces his family’s his-

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tory in the distilling trade back to the 1850s, when his great-great-great grandfather began producing Sherwood Rye Whiskey. And so great was the whiskey that in the late 1800s, the U.S. Army was stockpiling it for medicinal purposes. Liquid Riot, also based in (you guessed it) Portland, is run by brothers Eric and Ian Michaud. They produce a range of whiskeys (including rye, bourbon, single

My grandfather died before I was old enough to ask him about his alchemist past, but I’m pretty sure he would have approved of what’s happening here in Maine. He might even have had a pointer or two to offer his successors.

malt, and oat), as well as rum and vodka. Their Fernet Michaud is a nod to the Italian Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic digestif. Liquid Riot’s version begins life as an organic wheat-based neutral grain spirit, which they re-distill and charcoal filter to produce a smooth, neutral base that is then infused with a proprietary blend of 23 botanicals, roots and herbs. After the infusion is complete, the spirit is laid to rest in


lant. Its purported hallucinogenic properties, however, are what led to it being banned for the better part of the next century. On one trip to France, I had the good fortune to visit Le Musee de l’Absinthe in Auvers-sur-Oise, which happens to also be where Van Gogh is buried. It’s there that I learned that absinthe was invented by a French doctor who concocted wormwood and herbs as a cure for his patients. For their Absinthe Verte, Tree Spirits uses a recipe from the 1800s for which they redistill unaged applejack with grand wormwood, fennel and anise, then add an infusion of petite wormwood, lemon balm and hyssop. It was awarded a Bronze medal at the 2014 World Spirits Competition in New

Cold River Caipiroska

Michaud Sour

2 oz Cold River Vodka 3/4 oz lime juice 1 barspoon of granulated sugar Muddle lime juice and sugar, add ice and vodka, shake, strain into an icefilled Collins glass, top with club soda and a lime twist.

1.75 oz Liquid Riot Single Malt .75 oz Liquid Riot Fernet Michaud .75 oz fresh lemon juice .25 oz heavy syrup (2:1 sugar water) 2 oz egg white Build all in shaker and give it a REALLY HARD shake with single ice cube. Double strain into large coupe glass.

Bourbon Apple Cider

1.5 oz Split Rock Bourbon 3 oz apple cider Splash of lemon juice Fresh ginger root Muddle ginger and combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake gently and strain into an ice-filled glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Garnish with a slice of apple.

York, a Silver in the 2018 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco, and was DownEast magazine’s Editor’s Choice in 2016. There are at least six other Maine distilleries to date, including The Northern Maine Distilling Company in Brewer and Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York. Check out distillerytrail.com for information on tours, tastings and a chance to bring some home— should the spirit move you. My grandfather died before I was old enough to ask him about his alchemist past, but I’m pretty sure he would have approved of what’s happening here in Maine. He might even have had a pointer or two to offer his successors. R

Classic Absinthe Sunrise Over Chesuncook

1.5 oz Maine Craft Distilling Chesuncook .5 oz fresh orange juice .5 oz honey simple syrup 1 dash grapefruit bitters Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake gently and strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.

1 oz Tree Spirits Absinthe 1 sugar cube 3-5 oz ice cold water Place an absinthe spoon with sugar cube on top of a glass with absinthe and slowly pour as much water over it to suit your taste.

Eight Bells Side Car

1.5 oz New England Distilling Eight Bells Rum 1.5 oz cointreau or triple sec 1.5 oz fresh lime juice Throw it all together in a shaker with ice, give it a good shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

tom minervino for zest

used Maine blueberry wine barrels for five months. The resulting product is complex, minty, bittersweet and very herbal. Their Old Port Bourbon Whiskey is crafted with Maine-grown corn, rye and buckwheat and won Gold in the 2018 San Francisco World Spirit Competition. Not bad for a couple of boys from Yarmouth, Maine. Tree Spirits, located in Oakland, is the first New England distiller to produce absinthe. The drink known as la Fée Verte, or the Green Fairy, was especially popular within French bohemian circles of the 19th century and Van Gogh, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud were just some of the artists known to have praised it as an artistic stimu-

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Chutney

The Uncommon Condiment

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by perri black

love condiments—they can effortlessly transform a plain meal or dish into something special. Every culture has its condiments—from tomato ketchup in the United States, chimichurri in Argentina, and a multitude of salsas in Mexico, to kimchi in Korea, Dijon mustard in France, and za’ tar in Israel. Thousands of gloriously varied condiments are globally ubiquitous and delicious. I feel compelled to sample as many as I can—my refrigerator and pantry are filled with a world of tastes and textures. Jams, jellies, spreads, relishes, butters, dressings, pickles, rubs, spice mixes, and sauces all fall into the condiment category, but one of the most interesting, ancient, and diverse is chutney, perhaps the best known product from the Indian subcontinent. Some day I hope to eat my way through India (sampling chutneys as I go), but I did have the good fortune to live many years in England where, thanks to the dubious benefits of colonization, there are many wonderful restaurants serving food from all regions of India. As a result, I have been able to try many different manifestations of chutney, including versions that evolved to become an integral part of English cuisine. The history of chutney dates back to ancient times. The word “chutney” apparently comes from the Hindi “chatni,” which means ‘to lick’ and refers to both fresh and pickled products. In India, a variety of chutneys made from seasonal ingredients are served with every meal to complement other dishes being offered. They may be a mix of fresh, raw chopped vegetables, fruits, and spices, or various ingredients ground or processed into a coarse textured puree, or

even blended to a thin, smooth sauce. They can also be pickled with vinegar and spices. Contrasting tastes and textures are often served together—a classic combination is the bright green cilantro-mint chutney, dark brown tamarind sauce, and chopped, spiced onions that appear on the table at most Indian restaurants in this country. American and European-style chutneys were adapted by British colonialists from traditional Indian recipes to appeal to foreign taste. Sugar and vinegar were added to help preserve English orchard fruit and maintain a longer shelf life for use throughout the year. Anglo-Indians continued making chutneys using apples, peaches, and pears, as well as rhubarb, berries, and dried fruits like raisins and currants. These chutneys now regularly appear on many British tables, particularly alongside cold meats and poultry in pub lunches. In addition to the plethora of ingredients grown in the United States, American chutneys may be influenced by English chutneys as well as Caribbean and South American cuisines. The following recipes were primarily chosen to highlight Maine ingredients but I included a couple that are essentially Indian; however, the ingredients should be readily available in any supermarket. Feel free to add, subtract, and adjust ingredients in all these recipes according to personal taste and what is on hand. For those who feel adventurous and want to try making chutney with more exotic components (and there are many recipes available), the best Indian supermarket in this area is Masala Mahal, 798 Main Street (Rte. 1) in South Portland, www.masalamahal.weebly.com. R

wild blueberry chutney (www.wildblueberries.com)

Perfect with pork roast, duck, venison, and broiled chicken or beef, as well as an accompaniment to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or a topping for a turkey or chicken sandwich. Also use to top a small wheel of brie and serve with crackers or bread.

laurie’s rhubarb chutney (Adapted from Epicurious.com)

This extremely versatile chutney can easily be adapted to taste, substituting scallions for onions, brown sugar for granulated, red wine vinegar for cider vinegar, and ground cardamom instead of cumin. Dried tart cherries may also be used instead of raisins. 3/4 c sugar 1/3 c cider vinegar 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1 Tbsp ground garlic 1 Tbsp cumin 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper

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4 c chopped, fresh rhubarb (about 1½ lb) 1/2 c (generous) chopped red onion 1/3 c golden raisins (about 2 oz)

Combine first eight ingredients in a large stainless steel or enameled cast iron saucepan. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion, and raisins; increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to hot, sterilized jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to three weeks. Bring to room temperature before using. Yield: 4 8-oz jars

1/2 c raspberry vinegar 1/2 c sugar 1 medium onion, minced 1/4 tsp fresh minced ginger 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp minced lemon rind pinch of cayenne pepper pinch of salt 3 c wild (or cultivated) blueberries 1/4 c dried cranberries

Combine vinegar, sugar, onion, ginger, cinnamon, lemon rind, pepper, and salt in a sauce pan; bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of blueberries and the cranberries. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 2 cups of blueberries and simmer another 10 minutes. Yield: about 1 cup


1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (if you can find them) 1 to 4 dried red chilies (to taste) 3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped 2 to 10 garlic cloves (optional, to taste) 1 to 4 green chillies (to taste), broken in half 1 to 2 Tbsp tamarind sauce 1/2 tsp sugar

Heat oil in a pan over medium high until hot but not smoking; add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies. Mustard seeds will begin popping. When the popping has slowed, toss in diced tomatoes, peeled garlic, and green chilies. Stir fry for a minute and then add tamarind sauce and sugar. Sauté about 3 or 4 minutes until tomatoes become slightly soft. Turn off the heat and let it cool down. Transfer to a food processor, add a bit of salt and blend to a smooth paste. Adjust salt if necessary and transfer to a serving bowl to serve as a side dish or sauce.

judith’s cilantro mint chutney Simple and addictive!

1 bunch cilantro (50 grams about a cup unchopped) 1 bunch fresh mint leaves (50 grams) 1 small onion, chopped 3 small green chilis start with one and add to taste 4 cloves garlic 1 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice, or 2-3 Tbsp tamarind sauce

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Chutney will keep in refrigerator 3-5 days, but is best used within a day or so. Recipe may be doubled; add more sugar to make it sweeter, more chili for heat, and more lime or lemon juice or tamarind sauce for more tang.

coconut mint chutney

From Epicurious.com. Particularly good with grilled or broiled chicken or fish.

south indian tomato chutney

Tangy and spicy chutney with garlic, pairs well with Indian breads. www.masalakorb. com/tomato-chutney-south-indian-recipethakkali-chutney/ 1 Tbsp plain oil

1 serrano or 2 jalapeno chilies (or to taste), seeded and coarsely chopped 2/3 c sweetened flaked coconut 1 tsp salt (to taste) 2 tsp freshly grated lemon or lime zest 3 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice (to taste) 2 c packed fresh mint leaves 2 Tbsp water 1/2 c plain yogurt

In a food processor blend all ingredients until ground fine. The chutney keeps, covered and chilled, for two days. Yield: 1 ¼ cups

apple chutney

(from So Easy to Preserve, by the Cooperative Extension, University of Georgia) 2 qts pared, cored, chopped apples, about 10 medium 1 c chopped onions 1 c chopped sweet red bell peppers, about 2 medium 2 hot red peppers, seeded and chopped 1 ½ lbs seedless raisins 4 c brown sugar 3 Tbsp mustard seed 2 tsp ground allspice 2 tsp salt 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 qt cider vinegar (5%)

Combine all ingredients and simmer until thick, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour boiling hot chutney into hot jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 8 pint jars

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Profile for Laurie LaMountain

Lake Living  

Fall "At Home"

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