News from Maine’s Island and Coastal Communities volume 36, № 1
published by the island institute
feb/mar 2022 n free circulation: 50,000
Maine’s blue economy threatened by loss of access
Report calls for single entity to manage waterfront protection By Tom Groening
ersuading policy makers and residents of the value of Maine’s “blue economy” is easy, but if significant investment isn’t made in commercial access to the shore, that sector will languish, according to a report published late last year. “The Critical Nature of Maine’s Working Waterfronts and Access to the Shore” was researched and compiled by Merritt Carey and commissioned by the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront. Carey interviewed more than a dozen sources, including harbormasters, fishermen, aquaculturists, and municipal and marine patrol officials. In commissioning the report, the Institute cites pressure on access to the shore that will come as ecosystems, economies, and fisheries change. To
An aerial view of Bremen Community Shellfish, shot in September. PHOTO: JACK SULLIVAN
keep ocean-based ventures vital, a concerted and comprehensive approach to preserving access is needed, the report asserts. “Once access points are gone, they do not come back,” the report warns. There is much at stake. The lobster industry generates more than $1 billion in economic activity, according to a 2018 Colby College study. “Considerable growth” in aquaculture, coupled with a healthy scallop fishery, and the less
visible but steady harvests of groundfish, clams, seaweed, and worms, means pressure by users will not abate. The marine-based economic activity on its own is compelling, Carey writes, but more should be considered in weighing the value of a healthy working waterfront—the millions of dollars tied to tourism. “Those who flock to our shores to consume lobsters and steamers, to visit our oyster trail, who stand continued on page 4
New Mainers, ‘boomerangs’ reflect on choices Data suggests Maine is eighth-fastest growing state By Sarah Craighead Dedmon
or years, Stephanie Pemberton and her husband discussed leaving Indiana, but weren’t sure where to go. That changed when Pemberton, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, accepted a three-month assignment at a Midcoast medical facility.
“My husband and kids visited on Thanksgiving and we made the abrupt decision right then and there,” says Pemberton. “The kids just got here on New Year’s Eve.” Today the Pembertons are happily settling into life in South Thomaston where the children, ages 8 and 13, have started school. As a family, the
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Pembertons love camping, hiking, and Growth Index, shows a surge of fishing, and look forward to learning one-way trucks driving Downeast last how to ski. They’re enjoying the Maine year, making Maine the eighth highest lifestyle, and Maine’s people, too. growth state in 2021. A similar report “I feel like the people are just much from United Vanlines, also released more friendly and this month, shows Maine laid back here,” says with positive growth, Pemberton. “The lifestyle and almost 20 percent of “When you is more balanced.” inbound people younger speak to new The Pembertons didn’t than 44 years of age. leave Indiana because of Mainers, they say In her work with the the pandemic, but their nonprofit Live + Work they wanted a family and others like in Maine, engagement them are part of what the different life, and director Katie Shorey sees Wall Street Journal calls the inbound migration Maine and the “The Great Pandemic firsthand. Shorey last year Migration,” and it people have made organized a string of meet could be the answer and greet events for new it happen.” to reversing Maine’s residents, and spotted a entrenched population shift in the demographics. problems—more deaths By a show of hands, she than births, and not enough immigrants, asked, who is coming back to Maine, particularly young ones. and who is a brand new Mainer? By a fluke of timing, the 2020 “It was fascinating to see there were decennial census could not capture the more new Mainers than boomerangs,” full migration picture, but another data says Shorey, who defines a boomerang as point released this month, the U-Haul continued on page 16
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
Women moving into growing aquaculture sector But barriers remain in perception and financing By Grace Terry
year,” Moeser said. “This tends to be true of women — they have more domestic household responsibilities, ibby Davis’s mobile raw bar, Lady Shuckers, including being the emotional support of family.” Davis agrees. While she says everyone experiences was born from her desire to shuck oysters— challenges in the workforce, she also believes some and change the industry paradigm. “Being pushed enough to work harder and say, are more frequently experienced by women—starting ‘Well, if you want to shuck, you got to be as good with condescension. “I’ve been asked, ‘Can you do a full day out on the as the shuckers,’” Davis said, “who in my circle were water in the rain, not get cold, come out in the winter, all men.” Currently, Maine’s Department of Marine lift cages?’” Davis said. “Or, ‘Are you strong enough to Resources doesn’t track statistics on the gender be lifting this?’ I think a lot of that is said with good and diversity breakdown of the state’s aquaculture intent—they don’t want us to get hurt and stuff, but licenses or commercial fishing licenses. But Afton at the same time, it’s like, “Are you asking this high Hupper, an outreach and development specialist at school guy the same thing?” In addition to running Lanes Island Oysters, Moeser is the Maine Aquaculture Association, estimates that in 2019, 80 percent of all aquaculture licenses and pursuing a doctorate in interdisciplinary environmental limited purpose aquaculture licenses—permits that science from Antioch University New England, where last a calendar year and are often used for test sites— she’s researching gendered roles in fisheries. In shellfish aquaculture in Maine specifically, she are held by men. These numbers could be changing. According to a believes it is typically harder for women and minorities report by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in May to get loans from banks to start their businesses. “They won’t give up money based on your 2020, a third of all limited purpose aquaculture, or reputation or your work ethic or how good you are at LPA licenses were held by women. “Some of the pioneers of Maine aquaculture were growing oysters,” Moeser said. “It’s notoriously more difficult for minorities and women to and are women,” said Chris Vonderweidt, get financed for everything, because project manager at the Gulf of Maine they just typically don’t have the money Research Center. “I think women are a crucial piece of the industry.” “The aquaculture to back it.” Moeser started her company with Sara Rademaker is one of those industry is new, a 1995 Buick Century and an 11-foot pioneers. The founder of the only glass so you don’t have boat she purchased for $750. She says eel farm in the U.S., American Unagi, she got her start in aquaculture 15 years the expectation her only assets were her relationships. “There are a lot of rich people that ago in Uganda, where she worked under of stereotypes.” are either self-financing themselves, a female boss. or they’re older white men who are Rademaker believes working with —Sara Rademaker deciding to start their own oyster club,” women coupled with the newness of the Moeser said. “Because they own pretty aquaculture industry in relation to the nice homes, and in some of the coastal fishing industry, is why she has never towns, they can use that as collateral.” seen her gender as an obstacle in aquaculture. There are, however, more than just issues of “The aquaculture industry is new, so you don’t have the expectation of stereotypes,” Rademaker financing, according to Moeser. “It’s also about ownership, wages, gear, research, said. “Women are easily entering the field when they and development,” she said, “as well as social already exist elsewhere.” CHASLE21.PLT 2/10/2021 2:43:50 PM Scale: 1:12.83and H: 36.252 L: 96.247 in existing training programs that favor a Amanda Moeser was one of Maine’s women oyster networks farmers who held an LPA in 2019 and is now in the patriarchal status quo.” Worldwide, just 14 percent of the nearly 60 million process of getting a standard aquaculture license. The owner of Lanes Island Oysters, Moeser began people who work in fisheries and aquaculture are farming six years ago and says she was up against women, according to a 2018 UN report. According to Moeser, this lack of representation several personal barriers when entering the industry, such as having the money and being able to both is not confined only to women. During the time of their interviews, both Davis and Moeser did work and care for her sick mother. “Taking care of my mom was something that took not know of any minority-owned aquaculture me away from my farm for a greater portion of the businesses in the state.
Libby Davis owns and operates Lady Shuckers, a mobile raw bar.
Imani Black, however, may be changing that soon. In 2020, Black started the networking group, Minorities in Aquaculture, in Maryland, though she hopes to eventually expand worldwide. Through MIA, Black’s goal is to empower women of color and educate people on the barriers that women and minorities face in the aquaculture industry. “Not having transportation is a real issue,” Black said. “Inner city kids use public transportation, so we can’t necessarily expect them to be able to make it to an out-of-city internship. They also need housing if they are able to make it to an internship, as well as boots or field gear.” Minorities haven’t always been left out of the working waterfront. “At one point, 90 percent of the commercial fisheries were worked by people of color, specifically African Americans,” Black said. “Back then, they were boat captains, first mates, oyster saloon owners—they were a commodity in a lot of those areas on the coast, and now we can’t even pinpoint who is who and where they are.” Davis is using her company to help further the future of these groups by only buying products from female-owned aquaculture farms in Maine. “I am happy to help the cause and create some representation because we’re out there. There’s just not many of us out there, but there are a couple,” Davis said. “I think the couple that are out there are very passionate about what we do.”
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Motor? Sail? Row your boat!
Community rowing clubs take hold in Maine By Stephanie Bouchard
hen someone who has never rowed before steps into a rowing shell on Megunticook Lake in Camden as part of Megunticook Rowing’s Learn to Row program, their eyes widen as they exclaim, “Oh, my gosh, this is tippy!” said Anna Goodale, the organization’s executive director and head coach. There’s lots of nervous and excited laughter all around, but by the end of the four-day program, she says, they’re hefting the equipment and moving the boat out on the water with confidence. “One of my favorite parts about coaching is seeing the transformation that can happen,” she said. Lots of people in Maine row canoes, row kayaks, row rowboats, but the community rowing programs offered by a number of mostly nonprofit rowing organizations in the state are about more than teaching the mechanics of a particular style of rowing or the thrill of competing in races or getting a fullbody workout. At its core, say devotees, community rowing is about connection and growth. “It’s just this beautiful dynamic of partnership and cohesion, I think—and that translates on and off the water,” said Goodale, who won an Olympic gold medal in rowing in 2008. What people learn from rowing together is how to work together and how to make decisions and mistakes and own those, said Muriel Curtis, executive director of Station Maine, a Rockland-based experiential learning and community rowing nonprofit. “That’s really worthy if we’re talking transferrable skills,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet that wouldn’t benefit from that.”
Community rowing isn’t all serious personal development, though. It’s really growth through having fun, said Jen Southard, board president of the Portland Community Rowing Association. “It’s an experience to be on the water, to be in synchronicity with other people,” she said. “When you actually move the boat together, it’s just a beautiful feeling.” Southard came to community rowing as an adult with no prior rowing experience. “Most community rowing programs really are in the spirit of bringing new individuals into the sport,” she said, and to that end, many of them offer both competitive and recreational opportunities so there is something for those who want to take part in a competitive sport and something for those who want a more low-key experience. While many community rowing programs are nonprofit organizations that charge a fee to
Participants in Rockland’s Station Maine rowing program get out on the water. PHOTO: COURTESY STATION MAINE
participate, most also offer sliding scale rates or scholarship programs so that everyone who wants to row can. Some also offer winter rowing or virtual or in-person rowing on rowing machines. Most supply their own boats and equipment.
• Megunticook Rowing, Camden: Offers all ages rowing (nonwinter season); in-person and virtual rowing with rowing machines (December through April); private lessons. Fees vary; hour-long Learn to Row introductory session is free. https://www.megunticookrowing.org, firstname.lastname@example.org • Station Maine, Rockland: Offers experiential learning rowing programs for youth and all-ages community rowing year-round. Programs are free. https://www.stationmaine.org/communityrowing, email@example.com • Portland Community Rowing Association, Portland: Offers rowing for those age 14 and older; virtual rowing with rowing machines is offered in the winter season, November to April. Check with the organization about this year’s on-the-water season. Fees vary by program. https://www.rowportland.org, firstname.lastname@example.org • Come Boating!, Belfast: Offers year-round rowing for all ages (winter rowing is for qualified rowers only). Membership required to row. Annual membership fees are $25 for individuals, $45 for families. https:// comeboating.org, email@example.com • Midcoast Rowing Association, Brunswick: A variety of rowing programs are available for youths (ages 12 to 18) and adults (19 and older), including a three-hour introductory session. Membership fees vary. For more information: https://mcrarowing.org.
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
The changing climate of Atlantic salmon Warmer winters with mixed precipitation a problem By Catherine Schmitt
tlantic salmon face challenges, many of which—dams, pollution, predators—have been problematic for a long time. But as temperatures rise, precipitation and melt increase, and seasons shift, the pressure is increasing. In their migrations from river to sea and back again, Maine’s wild Atlantic salmon, on the Endangered Species List since 2000, are experiencing climaterelated threats throughout their range and life cycle. That was one takeaway from the Atlantic Salmon and Their Ecosystems Forum hosted by NOAA Fisheries and Project SHARE in January. In Maine, warming has occurred most in winter. More frequent rain-on-snow and freeze-thaw events cause ice to break up and scour river beds that are home to salmon eggs and just-hatched fry. Still, even in a warmer climate, there’s lots of good salmon habitat. In the heat of the summer, when temperatures climb and water levels drop in streams and rivers, young salmon seek out plumes of cold, aerated water. These “refugia” areas, which are plentiful in, for example, the Sandy, Piscataquis, and Narraguagus rivers, will become more critical for salmon as their world continues to warm. Precipitation has become more frequent and intense, and resulting higher stream flows also might help compensate for warmer temperatures. In recent years, salmon smolts are starting their ocean-bound migration earlier. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey are mapping river sections that tend to have more water during the summer and experimenting with time-lapse photographs from game cameras to monitor stream water levels. Salmon smolts are more likely to survive the journey during years with high flows, according to a study of 1,536 tagged fish migrating down the Penobscot River by Alejandro Molina-Moctezuma, a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Maine now at Lake Superior State University. Salmon smolts are also more likely to survive if they have spent more of their life in the wild versus the hatchery, especially when they get to the ocean, where more change awaits them. Unlike on land, in the sea most of the warming occurs in summer, when newly arrived salmon smolts are feeding in the Labrador Sea and older salmon are closer to Greenland. Declines in salmon populations have been linked to a changed ecology in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean triggered by changes in Arctic circulation in the early 1990s that changed salinities and populations of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and the small fish that salmon eat. Some salmon return to spawn in the Penobscot River after only one winter at sea. Others stay for a second year, but these fish are not growing as well as their pre-1990s counterparts, according to Gulf of Maine Research Institute-led
continued from page 1 mesmerized as they watch fishermen unload their catch” also benefit from the working waterfront. “Any way you measure, whether raw economic data, heritage and history, or community, Maine’s working waterfront and our ability to earn a living on the water is integral to who we are, and who we should be,” the report asserts. Access protection is urgently needed and the best response is a statewide action plan, the report concludes. “Maine’s current system for working waterfront protection does not solve all challenges, nor does it apply to all circumstances or locations,” Carey writes. “Instead, we have a system that is a kernel of something we should build around.” The state budget approved in July dedicates at least $4 million to working waterfront protection through the Land for Maine’s Future program, but Carey’s report argues that “long-term, systemic interventions that recognize the placebased nature” of commercial access are needed, and that the best way to deliver those interventions is to create an entity that looks at the pressures wholistically and can provide technical and resource assistance. The report calls for establishing a statewide foundation or agency led by stakeholders that works to protect access, but also works to market seafood, influence regulations and policy, and join in climate change work. Not surprisingly, a force threatening access is the escalating value of shorefront property. The median price of single-family homes sold in Maine increased by 13.8 percent in 2020, with 30 percent of homes sales made to out-of-state buyers. These numbers “underscore a long-existing trend of coastal real estate becoming too expensive for local residents to afford,” the report notes, along with bringing residents who “may not understand or appreciate the importance of our marine industries.” One scenario Carey offers explains the delicate nature of commercial access to an increasingly developed coast: “A single clammer without access … will use an airboat. The noise will likely lead to bad relations with neighbors and
analysis of scales from captured fish. Only those salmon that have put on enough weight will be able to return to freshwater to spawn. Those adult salmon that do survive—and scientists can only study the survivors—travel back to their home rivers in late spring and early summer. Marine growth is especially crucial for Penobscot River salmon, which have the longest migration of North American salmon. Once in the river, they move upstream into spawning habitat in cool, flowing tributaries. That is, if they can get there. According to NOAA Fisheries, Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon have unimpeded access to only 8 percent of their historic river habitat. Most salmon are delayed by dams which mean they spend more time in potentially lethal water temperatures below dams, said Sarah Rubenstein, a graduate student at the University of Maine. Warm water is taxing for cold water fish. Rubenstein’s research in the Penobscot River found that delayed fish lose fat reserves and could potentially run out of energy before they were able to spawn. “Effectively, one out of three returning adults would be eliminated from spawning because of delays,” said Rubenstein. “Our model also indicates a 65 percent decrease in the number of fish that would have enough reserves to spawn successfully and survive to repeat their migration and spawn again.” All these findings perhaps were overwhelming to scientists at the forum. But just as overwhelming, if not more, is that given all these findings, Atlantic salmon continue to flourish in the cool streams of the Maine woods, and that some continue to migrate to distant ocean waters and return home a year or two later. “We have to trust in Atlantic salmon,” said Mary Colligan, who recently retired from the federal government after a career working on endangered species recovery. “They have shown incredible persistence, despite what we have done to them.” The persistence of salmon continues to motivate efforts to reconnect streams and improve fish habitat by replacing aging culverts, removing defunct dams, and protecting refugia. More than 100 miles of river have been restored since 2018, said Ben Naumann of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. “A mile or two at a time, in 66 projects with 25 landowners, we have restored more than 100 miles of river since 2018.” Scientists don’t often use words like “trust.” But what else is owed to a species that has lived through multiple ice ages and changing ocean conditions over millions of years, that has sustained people and inspired culture, and that continues to ascend the rapids of a warming world? Catherine Schmitt is the author of The President’s Salmon: Restoring the King of Fish and Its Home Waters.
waterfront owners … [which] leads to competition for space and resources.” What follows are crowded boat launches and wharves, she writes. Most at risk are privately owned access points, which “have long provided overland access to the shore … on a handshake.” When these properties are sold to those with no relationship with users, access is lost. Another impact of the real estate market that Carey reveals is residential requirements for clamming licenses—even rentals are hard to come by in some southern coastal towns. Lobstering becomes more difficult when the coast is unaffordable as fishermen must haul gear and bait farther from their homes to piers. The report also notes that climate change will make maintaining waterfront infrastructure more expensive, with damage from storms and higher flood insurance premiums. Carey lists the key programs that help protect commercial access, but notes that, in the case of the Land for Maine’s Future, “funding is erratic,” and the process is passive in that it accepts applications—which those in the fishing industry are not skilled in completing—instead of seeking to protect key properties based on analysis. “There is not a comprehensive statewide plan outlining what geographic areas or what types of working waterfronts are most at risk,” she writes. Maine has 84 land trusts, with 62 in the state’s eight coastal counties. All aim to protect land for recreational use. “There is not a single entity in Maine whose sole mission is to protect and retain working waterfront,” the report notes. It acknowledges the complexity of public institutions securing high-value real estate for private ventures but pulls no punches. “Without a comprehensive, statewide plan … Maine will never move beyond its current approach,” which the report derides as inconsistent. And it argues that economic opportunity would be squandered. “Without access, the touted ‘blue economy’ cannot be realized.” The full report is available at: islandinstitute.org/get-involved/save-maines-working-waterfront
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
‘Contagiously positive’ Saltonstall honored
NRCM gives People’s Choice award for energy work By Stephanie Bouchard
hen it comes to climate change and our progress in addressing it, sometimes all we hear is how bad things are. It is, after all, a formidable situation which requires a serious attitude. Unfortunately, seriousness often takes the form of grimness, but that’s not how Sam Saltonstall, the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s 2021 People’s Choice award winner, approaches energy conservation—or life in general, for that matter. “He is contagiously positive,” said Laura Seaton, executive director of WindowDressers, a nonprofit that organizes volunteers to build and install low-cost, custom-made insulating window inserts. Saltonstall has volunteered with the organization since 2012 and currently serves as its board president. “He has this attitude of ‘Whatever the problem is, there’s something we can do about it. It’s going to be great. We can work together and make a positive difference on this issue,’’’ she said. He’s Sam Saltonstall FILE PHOTO: SCOTT SELL “adorably silly,” and uses his “fantastic sense of humor” and willingness to do things a little bit differently to put people at ease and bring them “He has such a powerful combination of skills,” together and encourage enthusiasm, she said. said Suzanne MacDonald, chief community A hallmark of his sense of humor and development officer for the Island Institute. “He playfulness is his use of two hand puppets, a fuzzy knows firsthand what it takes to get community critter named Fud and a bat named Bitey, which energy projects done. He’s been in the trenches, he uses in the WindowDresser’s regular newsletter he’s rolled up his sleeves, but he’s also savvy and informational videos, and for presentations at enough and understands the levers that are out the church he attends in Bath, the Neighborhood there to help him affect change on a broader United Church of Christ. level, too. As hokey as it may sound, it’s nothing but, says “Sam is really good at partnerships and working Marcia August, who has worked with Saltonstall on with other nonprofits, with companies, with a number of energy conservation funders, and even doing the work projects at the church, including with policymakers,” she added. most recently the installation “I think he’s learned how to not of a solar array on the church’s just get it done locally, but how to premises, which required getting leverage the resources out there to an amendment to Bath’s historic affect change at the state level and While living district ordinance so that the at the federal level as well.” on Peaks, he church, and now other historic Now 80 years old and living district property owners, can with his wife of more than 50 spearheaded efforts place solar on their properties. years in Brunswick, Saltonstall to get heat pumps “It doesn’t feel hokey,” she said. continues his hands-on work into buildings… “I don’t know why, other than it’s with WindowDressers as well Sam. You’ve got to love this guy.” as volunteering with Citizens’ During church services, Climate Lobby, a new kind of Saltonstall uses the puppets and volunteering effort for him, which sometimes humorous poetry has him meeting with members to pitch energy projects and of Congress to work on creating illuminate the need to raise money, be generous, policy to address the changing climate. Doing and to take immediate action rather than pushing local, grassroots work is incredibly important, he it off into the future, she said. With the puppets said, but he has also come to realize that “if you’re and funny poetry, “You don’t feel lectured at,” concerned about climate change, you’ve got to August said. “It feels softer than a sales pitch.” have one foot in federal policy.” His “softer” approach is not just fun and games, Like many grandparents, he said, he is compelled and in fact, has helped him and the organizations to do the work he has been doing because of his he has volunteered with make significant and love and concern for his grandchildren. positive change on both the individual and “It is so unfair that we could leave to future community levels. generations a world already trending in such a The first year he volunteered with harmful direction,” he told a virtual audience WindowDressers, he was living on Peaks Island. when he accepted NCRM’s People’s Choice award He arranged a partnership with the Island in late October. Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront, “The injustice and foolishness of it motivates and managed to get more than 100 homes on the me and I hope you, to stay engaged, be of island weatherized. good courage, better learn what our Wabanaki While living on Peaks, he also spearheaded neighbors have known all along, and not throw efforts to get heat pumps into buildings on the in the towel.” island, sold LED lightbulbs to residents, and To watch NRCM’s award presentation, worked on a large energy upgrade project at the including Saltonstall’s remarks, go to nrcm.org/ island’s school that air sealed the building and events/conservation-leadership-awards/. replaced the old heating system with a more To see some of Saltonstall’s puppetry in action, energy efficient one. go to the WindowDresssers’ YouTube channel.
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The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
What’s said and left unsaid Latest ‘Lucy’ novel reveals vulnerabilities
Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout (2021)
Review by Tina Cohen PEOPLE LIKE LUCY BARTON can drive me crazy. In Elizabeth Strout’s first novel about her, My Name is Lucy Barton, I had a very different reaction— I liked and was cheering for her through her struggles. Lucy returns in Strout’s newest novel, Oh William!, and though you’d think it was about William, Lucy’s first husband, and to some degree it is, most of the time we’re observing Lucy, full of insecurity, hesitancy, uncertainty.
I know, all of us have degrees of these weaknesses. But Strout has us watching someone whose vulnerabilities pull hard and makes us share Lucy’s discomfort. Why read a book like that? I struggled with that question much of the time, but to Strout’s credit (and this is a lot of what I love about Strout), I remained engaged with the book. I found myself finally absorbed with Lucy’s inner world and appreciating her unsteadiness. I understood more of what she was grappling with and came to see her efforts as heroic and brave. In other words, I felt compassion for her, and it struck me later as similar to what Strout put me through with Olive Kitteridge over the two books she wrote about her. Another thing I like about Strout’s fiction is its connection to Maine. Strout sets this story primarily in Manhattan, but one of the more eventful interactions is a visit William asks Lucy to accompany him on to Aroostook County, for his family research. They fly into Bangor International Airport, experienced by Lucy as “eerie.” The long, dark corridors inside were empty. But, William interjected, it could bustle with activity, a first or last stop for American troops in transport to or from overseas duty. He knew a surprising number of facts about the place. Local residents would turn out
to welcome them, calling themselves “Maine Troop Greeters.” They’d even made a museum there. The visit’s first night is spent at the airport’s onsite hotel, which also feels cold and unfriendly to Lucy. Strout, I think, is suggesting what an experience of Maine could be to some outsiders, using the airport as metaphor: a vast space, relatively unpopulated and unused, which seems bleak and unwelcoming. But the Greeters are evidence that a generosity of spirit is clearly part of the place. Strout would know; she is a Maine native and has a residence in the Brunswick area. In discussing their trip, Lucy notes she’d been to Maine only once before, when—as a successful, popular author—she was asked to speak at a college in Shirley Falls (a fictional town Strout features in earlier work). No one had shown up for her reading; Lucy concluded it had gone unadvertised, that no students were encouraged to attend. William wonders aloud if the sponsoring department chair may have undermined it, jealous of her, and asks with concern if she was paid. Lucy dismisses the notion anyone could envy her, and thinks she was paid but forgotten how much. “You know, something small, I’m sure,” she muses. William’s response,
as I read it, seems frustrated, indignant on her behalf, impatient with her lack of self-worth: “Jesus, Lucy.” And that could just as easily have been the title for this book, instead of Oh William! Both exclamations are a seeming reaction to what could be said but instead, seems easier to be ignored or denied. Wouldn’t it be as frustrating to them as me? But hats off to Strout, because it isn’t defeat that dominates in the end. She is masterful at letting insight creep up on both her characters and the reader. Tulips, which we’re told are Lucy’s favorite flower and are pictured on the book’s cover, don’t seem to mean much overall. But tulips can represent rebirth, blooming in spring after surviving underground the unfavorable growing conditions of winter. I think we’re being shown that Lucy, too, blooms. The abuse in her childhood, made clear in the earlier books, shaped her and left long-lasting effects. But Strout illustrates ways she has coped, changed, grown. She optimistically reminds us that a “winter” of deprivation—the lack of nurturing conditions—can be weathered, and life can return, springing forth with fresh vigor, beauty, and delight. Tina Cohen is a therapist who is a seasonal resident of Vinalhaven.
Bernd Heinrich races the clock
Eminent biologist and long-distance runner reflects on aging
Racing the Clock: Running Across a Lifetime By Bernd Heinrich
Review by Carl Little BERND HEINRICH boasts a double life. He is a brilliant field scientist, known for ground-breaking work, including numerous articles and books on a host of flora and fauna, from irises and chestnut trees to honeybees and
ravens. He is also a record-holding long-distance runner. His new book Racing the Clock: Running Across a Lifetime melds the two pursuits into an engaging and at times suspenseful narrative. Racing the Clock is personal, with bits of Heinrich’s life story adding to what we know from his autobiographical magnum opus, The Snoring Bird (2007). It’s a self-study, with episodes of defiance and doubt, triumph and tribulation—and the ever-present wonder of nature his many readers have come to love. The 81-year-old Heinrich goes back in time to revisit a remarkable life, from fleeing northern Germany with his family as the Russians advanced in World War II, to attending the Good Will-Hinckley Home Farm and School and later the University of Maine and UCLA. He recaps some of the high— and low—points as a biologist and runner, always with a lively eye. “This book concerns aging,” Heinrich notes near the beginning of the book, and he sets out to explore his attitudes toward growing old while offering
examples of the lives of diverse plants and animals, from the ephemeral blowfly to “Methuselah,” a bristlecone pine in California thought to be 4,850 years old. Curiosities abound. There’s the “suicide tree,” which dies after blooming only once, and an eel named Putte which lived to age 88. Heinrich moves seamlessly between biology and running, at times mixing the two. “Running ability may be as complex as the bumblebee’s flight,” he writes, and uses his runner’s stopwatch to time the speeds of caterpillars. Note that the book’s title is not Outracing the Clock. Heinrich has no illusion about senescence, the process of deterioration with age. That said, he may ignore a doctor’s appraisal of his knees and run another ultramarathon. “Death is not a thing I like looking forward to,” he writes, “but I must look forward to it if I want to get my licks in, as they say.” And get his licks in Heinrich does: several chapters recount his amazing feats as a long-distance runner, including setting an American record for a 24-hour run—156 miles, 1,388 yards—on a track at Bowdoin College
in 1979. Among the songs he runs to: Cat Stevens’s “Bitterblue.” Heinrich pays tribute to his mentors, many of them from his early years in Maine when he began to develop his passion for the natural sciences and running. Coaches, professors, and others saw his promise in both pursuits and (mostly) encouraged him. From trapping gypsy moths for the U.S. Department of Agriculture one summer to publishing his first scientific papers in prominent journals, from high school meets to races with the Maine Rowdies running club in Brunswick, Heinrich benefited from timely reinforcement. If Racing the Clock at times has a swan song feel to it, it never lasts long. Heinrich goes with the flow and never ceases to challenge himself. This past October he ran the Chicago Lakefront 50K in 6:14:28, placing 59th out of 117 runners. Fleet of foot and nimble of mind, Heinrich is, well, the bee’s knees. Carl Little is regular contributor to The Working Waterfront. He lives on Mount Desert Island.
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
In Plain Sight
An earlier island quarantine Widow’s Island off North Haven holds medical history By Kevin Johnson WHILE THE EXPERIENCE of quarantining is new to many of us, this is hardly the first time it’s been used to control the spread of disease. The large brick building in the photograph was constructed by the U.S. Navy on Widow’s Island in Penobscot Bay in 1885 as a hospital to house mariners who contracted yellow fever. One could think of worse places to quarantine! However, by the time the building was completed, it was obsolete, as the prevalence of the disease had diminished. Widow’s Island was returned to the state of Maine in 1904 and for some years, the building was used as a summer retreat for psychiatric patients. The building was razed in 1935 and the island is now privately owned. This image is taken from a 4-inch by 5-inch glass plate negative found in the Deer Isle-Stonington collection. It is one of two negatives depicting the hospital on the island. The presence of men in U.S. Life Saving Service uniforms puts the date prior to 1904. This view of the island (and the detail from the second negative) shows a small outbuilding. Partially “submerged” buildings such as this stone structure were sometimes used as ice houses and for food storage; this may be the case here. Mr. D.B. Elmes of Woolwich noticed the images while perusing the Penobscot Marine Museum’s online database and wrote us to identify the images and share the story behind them. There is much more to learn about Widow’s Island and reading Carl Little’s essay in the 2016 Island Journal is a good place to start: islandjournal.com/history/widows-island The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport has more than 350,000 photographic images in its archive and more than 120,000 of those images are available in its online database. Winter is a great time to explore this vast resource! Fine art prints are available and image licensing for publication, educational, or commercial use is an option. Check it out at www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org
Widow’s Island off North Haven.
A detail from the early 20th century glass plate negative.
A how-to for environmental activism Former state policy official offers practical advice
Advocating for the Environment: How to Gather Your Power and Take Action By Sue Inches (2021)
Review by Raina Sciocchetti “TRY STARTING WITH one thing, and see where it leads” is Susan B. Inches’ advice for tackling environmental issues, whether you are a seasoned advocate or just beginning. Advocating for the Environment: How to Gather Your Power and Take Action is a solutions-oriented guide to advocating for the environment written by Inches, who brings over 25 years of experience in public policy. As deputy
director of the Maine State Planning Office and before that, a director at the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Inches managed a portfolio of environmental policy issues, including fisheries, land-use planning, renewable energy, working waterfront access, and rural broadband. In this timely 2021 publication, Inches outlines principles and methods of environmental action. She draws on her wealth of experience as an environmental advocate and organizer in Maine to transform what could be used as a textbook in an environmental advocacy class into an instructional narrative driven by personal stories, practical examples, and a compelling sense of purpose. Unlike many textbooks, Advocating for the Environment is accessible and inviting to readers of any level of familiarity with environmental advocacy. The text can be used as an introduction to the subject or as a field guide for work on a campaign. Clear headings with inset stories and charts support easy reference and readability. If environmental advocacy is the road to a world that is compassionate, fair, safe, and healthy for all, Advocating for the Environment is a comprehensive guidebook, all maps included.
Part I begins with the fundamentals of any movement—understanding thoughts and beliefs. Identifying mental models and paradigm shifts in environmental advocacy is critical when navigating environmental attitudes and behaviors. Inches explores Earth stories and worldviews to bring to light the beginnings of the environmental movement and summarizes trends in public policy throughout the years. The chapters introduce foundational elements of advocacy work from the power of storytelling to techniques for communicating across polarized perspectives. Part II transitions from theory into practice, providing readers with tools and advice to address pressing environmental issues and describing ways people can harness their own potential. Not shying away from complex issues of power, political processes, and working with decision makers, the text provides resources that are especially valuable for environment advocates interested in— and possibly confused by—public policy, including lobbying and participation in hearings, public meetings, and task forces. Additional resources, including sample legislative testimonies and communications documents provide
real, Maine-based examples that illustrate the tools that are introduced. In a particularly inspiring epilogue, “Eight Reasons to Be Optimistic in Troubled Times” (Inches recommends in the introduction that readers in need of motivation skip to the back of the book and read this chapter first), she provides a vision of the future: “When we focus on the future we want, the steps that could take us there begin to emerge from the fog.” As we act on those steps—by starting with one thing, seeing where it leads, and turning that first step into many more— we may feel energized and rewarded. Everyone has the power to change the world for the better. Advocating for the Environment offers detailed instructions for ordinary people to become effective environmental advocates and inspire meaningful change. The rest is up to you. Raina Sciocchetti is an Island Fellow through the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront, working with the Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society. Originally from Northern California, she graduated from Unity College with a degree in environmental writing and media studies.
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
The real lesson of Sears Island Public good definition tilts in one direction By Tom Groening SEARS ISLAND AND I have a history. This 941-acre island, accessible at low tide from Searsport and then by a causeway built in the 1980s, seemed destined to be the spoils in a war between conservation and transportation interests. As it turns out, the fight ended with a kind of draw, but conservationists may see a recent development as a breach of the hard-won peace. In part because of its access to a protected, natural deep-water anchorage, Sears Island has drawn interest for substantial development over the last 50 years. An industrial park was proposed in 1969. One of the tenants wanted to build a nuclear power plant and an aluminum smelter. In 1971, an oil desulphurization refinery was proposed, and then Central Maine Power made its own bid for a nuclear power plant on the island. Perhaps surprisingly, Searsport residents supported the nuke idea in a 532-182 vote in 1975. When a fault line was discovered under the proposed location, CMP returned with a plan for a coal-fired plant. All the plans failed to win approval or were withdrawn.
Then, in the 1980s, the state Transportation Department announced it would build a six-berth container port on Sears Island. The lawsuits began to fly, and an opponent won a restraining order. One day in 1988, I was returning to Belfast and the Republican Journal office from an interview in Frankfort, and I stopped near the shore for lunch in my car. I noticed dump truck after dump truck headed toward the island. Apparently, the restraining order had been lifted, and before another could be sought, the state was going great guns on the port plan. I took a photo that documented the beginning of the construction of the causeway which, to this day, fails to include culverts to allow the tide to flow through, thereby turning Stockton Harbor into a less biologically productive body of water. I have a personal relationship with the island, too. I have walked around it, 5 miles on the shore, probably 50 times. I once counted 17 distinct coves, each different—steep clay banks in one, rock cliffs in another, large oak trees here, alders and fir there. If you plan on walking there, remember what someone told me when I explored the shore below Grand Manan’s cliffs: Mind the tide.
I also have mountain biked its trails and roads and snowshoed its changing inland terrain. You can’t get lost, because sooner or later, you cross the road that runs down the island, or see the shore. I take issue with colleagues who repeat the conservationist’s line that Sears Island is “the largest undeveloped island on the East Coast.” In addition to the causeway, there’s a rock jetty, a paved road that would allow two 18-wheelers to pass, a communications tower, an old gravel road, cleared meadows, and cellar holes. In the late 18th century, the island was owned by Gen. Henry Knox, George Washington’s first secretary of war. In those years, it was known as Brigadier’s Island. An 1880 survey noted that 75 sheep and about 30 cattle grazed on the island. In the early 20th century, an amusement park was built there. The state ended up buying the island—renamed for one of its owners, David Sears. When I was with the Bangor Daily News, I covered a protracted process that gathered conservationists and transportation advocates which resulted in a compromise—put 600-plus acres into permanent conservation but set aside another 300 acres for a port facility, if one was needed.
A moment of clarity for me came when a legal expert spoke to the group, explaining that the state could seize Popham Beach State Park and turn it into a ferry landing if necessary. Obviously, such a move wouldn’t fly with the public, but if there were a critical need for a ferry landing, well… Late last year, news came that the state might use the jetty area to store and then ship parts for the floating wind energy project. In addition to the deep water, a rail line runs to Mack Point on the mainland, just 400 yards from the jetty. There are many questions to be answered before turbine blades are stacked on the island, but the hard lesson is that those in power determine what is in the public good. And to be honest, I can see merits both in leaving the island alone and in using its shipping potential. Time will tell, but I remember the headline an editor included on a story I wrote about the island for the BDN: “Survivor island.” Tom Groening is editor of The Working Waterfront. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying on the path in Eastport Methods must be matched to community Reflections is written by Island Fellows, recent college grads who do community service work on Maine islands and in coastal communities through the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront.
By Paige Atkinson THE TRAILS AT Shackford Head State Park in Eastport can be confusing. With stunning views of Cobscook Bay, the park is one of my favorite places to explore since moving to Maine. I am no stranger to hiking, having explored local, state, and national parks all my life and, when I moved to Eastport, I was excited to learn about the beautiful park just minutes from my front door. Shackford’s trail system crisscrosses the peninsula, leading visitors through quiet groves and hidden beaches. At first glance, these trails seemed easy to follow but I found they can be complex to navigate. When I first headed out, I relied only on the trail carved out by previous hikers to guide me. Soon the path became challenging to find and I began to get confused where I was heading.
Was this the trail or was it a dried stream bed? Did the path really end here in the middle of some trees? I was unsure if I was going the right direction or if I had strayed off trail. Then out of the blue, it all became clear. Stripes of paint serve as trail markers to strategically map the trail as it traces the northern edge of the headlands. Sometimes on trees, other times on rocks, these flashes of paint help guide visitors along the trail as it winds along the coastline. Placed incrementally along the trail, these marks are confidence boosters and reassure hikers they are on the right path. Community work can feel a lot like navigating the trails through Shackford. It can be easy to walk into a community and rely on previous experience to direct your actions. If a strategy has worked in one community, it seems logical that it will guide success in another. While previous experience can be a useful tool, it also can be dangerous when used as a rigid plan. Each community is unique and, just like hiking, if you don’t keep a careful watch, you can easily head in the wrong direction and wander off course.
My experience in community work is like being out on Shackford Head using the trail markers as a guide. At first the path seems clear, taking direction from those who have gone before. It’s easy to keep your head down and focus on the immediate next steps to propel you along the route. The progress you make, however, is only useful if you take in your surroundings and navigate the trail that you are on. I have found that community members are essential to guiding your journey. They know their community intimately, have a deep understanding of its challenges, and a strong pride in the place they call home. Like trail markers, it is important to seek out local stakeholders and be prepared to listen to their guidance. These local experts are the people who will know if what you are working on will be truly helpful for the community. They hold invaluable knowledge and the local context critical to navigating the issues at hand and avoiding obstacles that have caused others to stumble. I am lucky to have found amazing community members to act as “trail markers” for my fellowship. Their
guidance has already helped me learn so much about Eastport, while at the same time helping me to avoid some common pitfalls. They’ve taught this California native how to avoid frozen pipes, when to be on the lookout for deer jumping across the road, and where the best beach is to comb for sea glass. More importantly, in sharing their lives and their experience, they are helping me serve the city to the best of my ability. Just like the trail makers at Shackford Head, the people of Eastport are constant reminders to me to slow down and take the time to appreciate and better understand my surroundings. Paige Atkinson works with the city of Eastport on energy and senior housing. She grew up in California and graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in environmental studies. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and served as an education volunteer in the Philippines.
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
HOTEL ROW— This image, circa 1940, shows Belfast’s Windsor Hotel. The hotel burned in 1960, and another hotel, the Colonial, next to the Windsor on High Street, had burned two years earlier, killing six people. The hotels were located where the Belfast Coop parking lot is today.
A humble prognostication of 2022 Prices increase, and so does spending By Robert Skoglund WHEN I WAS ASKED me about the prospects for 2022 here on our working waterfront, I immediately left my number with Hamilton Marine. Wayne called me back within three minutes. He said because of the COVID it would be hard to say what the next 12 months will bring. My local boat builder said that the plague helped his business in 2021 and that he’s looking forward to another exceptionally good year. He’s heard the same thing from other boys in the business, and you probably have, too, Even the man, who employs several people in his bottle/can recycling store, gave me a thumbs up when I asked him about 2022. It makes sense if you realize that many people would go hungry before they’d give up beer. And if Coca-Cola wasn’t one of Maine’s basic food groups, Warren Buffet would have unloaded his $400 million dollars worth of Coke stock a long time ago. The number of beer cans found along the road is not an infallible index of local wealth. Many of the boys jettison the valuable cans so their wives won’t know they already drank three on the way home. A man who picks crabmeat is concerned about 2022. He says they are taking too many of the female crabs so “the male crabs have no one to mate with.” It reminded me that when Nazi submarines
Island Institute Board of Trustees Emily B. Lane, Chair Kristin Howard, Vice Chair Charles Owen Verrill, Jr. Secretary Douglas Henderson, Treasurer, Finance Chair Carol White, Programs Chair Megan McGinnis Dayton, Philanthropy & Communications Chair Shey Conover, Governance Chair Michael P. Boyd, Clerk Sebastian Belle David Cousens Michael Felton Nathan Johnson Bryan Lewis Michael Sant Barbara Kinney Sweet Kate Vogt Donna Wiegle John Bird (honorary)
A nearby farm recently sprouted a self-service kept the Irish fishing fleet tied up in World War II, within a couple years everything on the bottom storage facility. Trees and boulders are now being removed in the next lot. The smart money says more bounced back. It won’t be in 2022, but there will come a day when units will be in by summer. In 2022 our coastal Maine neighbors, their garages tough economic decisions must be made here. We’ve crammed with things they will never heard from lobstermen that Maine’s need or use, will be renting a record ice-cold salt water is warming up, but all number of storage boxes to store even the lobsters will have moved far offshore more things that they will never need before you’ll see me swimming in it. It won’t be or use. Even then there is no room for When asked for his outlook on 2022, snowmobiles, boat trailers, and four the senior citizen who bagged my in 2022, but wheelers, which are left outside to rust groceries growled about the rising cost there will come next to mountains of colorful plastic of food. I said nothing. But remembered toys. that as a bachelor, I ate rolled oats every a day when This surfeit of litter in our yards morning for nearly 20 years, and every tough economic would convince any summer visitor time I bought a new box I threw away decisions must be that Maine coast natives have more the cover and used the old one. money than they know what to do with. There came a day when I was paying made here. And when visitors are charged $300 a twice as much for my oats as indicated night at a Camden bed and breakfast by the price sticker on the cover. When they know where we got it. I lived in Sweden in 1960 a dollar No matter the year, January fills our covered a wild night of exotic lovelies hearts with hope: January means that and ginger ale in the local dance hall. But the first Swedish I learned was my aunt’s we have survived four months of another winter on Maine’s working waterfront and that in only six short mantra: “All things are so expensive nowadays.” When I went away to school and lived off campus, months it will be warm again. I had $5 a week to squander on food. So if the price of food shoots up in 2022 what makes it any different Robert Skoglund, who writes and performs under the from any previous year? name “the humble Farmer,” lives in St. George.
THE WORKING WATERFRONT
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Rare Asian eagle’s strange journey to Maine Steller’s sea eagle cheered by birders on coast By Rebecca Pritchard
rare Asian eagle flew over the water pursued by a smaller local bird, a bald eagle, as more than a hundred people watched from the shore of Georgetown on New Year’s Eve. People had gathered at this precise spot in the hopes of seeing the rare bird, said to be in the area. It was a Steller’s sea eagle, a 20-pound brown and white raptor with an eightfoot wingspan and a bright orange beak. The bird flew by to the delighted call of the crowd and the soft click of digital cameras. “This is maybe the rarest bird that’s ever been in Maine,” said Nick Lund of Maine Audubon. “This bird is on all levels just insane.” Not only is it impressive to see, he said, it also is rare anywhere. With an estimated 4,000 adults in the wild, the Steller’s sea eagle is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. How this bird made its transcontinental flight from the Sea of Okhosk, off easternmost Russia and north of Japan, to the Gulf of Maine is an interesting tale. Over the past 15 months, the unmistakably large eagle has been reported in four U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. The eagle
appeared to fly a meandering route starting in Alaska and coming to rest— at least for the time being—in Maine. The story begins in icy northern Asia. The Steller’s sea eagle’s nesting grounds encircle the Sea of Okhotsk in the sub-arctic spruce-fir forests of northeastern Russia. Mating pairs build tree-top nests big enough to hold a king-sized bed, according to a National Geographic article from 1999. While eagles are apex predators, their eggs and their newly hatched eaglets are vulnerable to enterprising predators including brown bears. A successful nest can produce one to three eaglets, who fledge in 90 days. When nesting season is over, some Steller’s sea eagles winter along the coast or on rivers fed by hot springs. Others migrate as far south as Japan and Korea. Steller’s sea eagles are both predators and scavengers. Their preferred prey is salmon and cod, which they supplement with crabs, shellfish, squid, seabirds, small mammals, and carrion. On the coast they will scavenge beached whales and seals. Inland, they scavenge deer left by hunters. When our wandering eagle first landed on the North American continent in August 2020, on the banks FORE POINTS MARINA AD: of the MacLaren River in Denali, it was 4.93" WIDE X 3.68" HIGH.
The Steller’s sea eagle takes in a view of Maine. PHOTO: COURTESY LINDA CUNNNGHAM
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. April 2020 . february/march www.workingwaterfront.com www.workingwaterfront.com 2022 only slightly off-course: just across the Bering Strait and over the Alaska Range. Still, it was a rare enough sighting for the Anchorage Daily News to report on the bird’s activities in a Sept. 5 column. It was caribou hunting season and the bird was seen near carcasses, “probably making a convenient meal from a hunter’s leftovers. What it was doing so far from its normal haunts is a mystery.” The mystery was about to deepen. The eagle continued to fly in the opposite direction from home, in a zigzagging course that is welldocumented: Texas to Atlantic Canada, then Massachusetts and Maine. Everywhere the bird was reported, bird watchers mobilized to catch a glimpse of the rare visitor, and the media reported on it like a celebrity. This is typical of wandering birds that are big and dynamic, said Lora Haller with U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife in Homer, Alaska. “Vagrants happen
all the time in North America,” she said, though often it’s small birds that may not be recognized by the general public. “It’s pretty exciting when it’s a large bird like this. People notice.” The Halifax Examiner called the eagle’s visit to Nova Scotia “about the coolest thing to happen around here lately.” The Bangor Daily News suggested in an editorial that although the Steller’s sea eagle had won hearts in Maine, it was “perhaps not a stellar navigator.” The New York Times was even more blunt when it declared the bird to be “very, very lost.” Is it lost, though? Rich MacDonald of the Natural History Center in Bar Harbor said in an interview that when birds wander far from their native range, “we don’t really fully know why. We have lots of theories.” For a long time, bird experts believed that vagrancy was caused by a bird’s
internal compass going awry. Now, MacDonald said, they are starting to recognize the reasons could be more complex than faulty navigation. “Climate change is shifting where food is, and when it is,” MacDonald said. “Maybe the timing of food is shifting, changing migration patterns.” Vagrants
could be an extreme example of birds looking for new places to go simply to get the food they need, he said. “Maybe this is just a young pioneering bird,” MacDonald continued. “The bottom line is there’s no reason to think this bird won’t do just fine. Where’s it going to go, nobody knows.”
John Martin, Bud Staples, and Elsie Gillespie chat around the woodstove at the annual town meeting.
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The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
The faces of Station Eastport
The nation’s most easterly Coast Guard unit PHOTO ESSAY BY LESLIE BOWMAN
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
Our Island Communities SNOWY SENTINEL— Capt. Michael Johnson of the Maine Seacoast Mission’s Sunbeam V captured this image of a snowy owl perched on a gravestone in a cemetery on Matinicus Island in Dec. 15.
Giving North Haven the peace sign
Waterman’s Community Center shares story begun in 1960s Editor’s note: The following first appeared in Waterman’s Community Center fall newsletter, and is reproduced here, with permission, because it offers insight into how island communities negotiate change… even small changes.
n the 1960s, Waterman & Co. general store was at the height of its activity. Franklin Waterman was the chief proprietor and the store provided islanders with all varieties of S.S. Pierce goods, such as meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, yard goods, coal, hardware, kitchen equipment and, of course, penny candy. On Main Street, behind the store, was a green storage barn in which the delivery truck and assorted odds and ends were stored. At some point, an unknown person, in keeping with the trends of the ‘60s, painted a large peace sign on the big green barn door. It wasn’t perfectly rendered, but it got the idea across and stayed there for 35-plus years. Fast forward to 2004: Waterman’s Community Center has taken root in the location of the old store. The new building emulates the lines and look of Waterman & Co. general store, including the green barn. Rather than being a separate structure, the new “green barn” is part of the community center and houses a section of the backstage area of the theater. Sometime in the first year of the community center’s existence, another unknown person (and presumably not the same one from the 1960s) painted a peace sign on the new green door, replicating the symbol from decades ago. The center’s trustees, assuming this was a fleeting inspiration, painted over the peace sign, making the barn door solid green again. But another peace sign soon appeared, marked by paint drips and looking unkempt. As a trustee was painting over the second peace sign, a passerby asked why it was not being left as is.
The trustee responded, “If they would do a decent job, maybe we would.” Soon after the second sign was painted over, a third version appeared, the one seen today, which is neatly done. A year or so later, after one of Waterman’s year-end fundraising appeals, a donor note arrived saying, “When are you going to paint over the ugly peacesign graffiti marring your beautiful building? Until you do, this is my last donation.” This upped the ante on the peace sign issue and the question of how to proceed was brought before trustees at their next meeting. The choices were: embrace the peace sign because it echoes a bit of
North Haven village history, even though doing so could risk angering and alienating some donors; or paint it over again and accept that this may be a never-ending cycle. Much discussion and debate ensued, but the unanimous decision emerging was to leave the peace sign in place. Since then, it has become a touchstone for Waterman’s and the entire North Haven community. Postscript: Soon after the donor unhappy with the sign was notified of the decision to keep it intact, the donor sent a check with a note that read: “You win. I’m happy to keep supporting this great organization. I’ll just have to squint as I drive by.”
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
‘This Island Life’
Peaks Island photographer captures quiet moments
hotographs of island life made by Peaks Island resident Heather Wasklewicz were on display at the island branch of the Portland Public Library through January. Wasklewicz donated 20 percent of the sales of images from the show, which she titled “This Island Life,” to the library to support its programs. She writes that the images “are private and quiet moments of island life that I feel in my periphery, before I frame the shot.” All were shot on an android phone camera. “The images are all filtered to enhance and better reflect what I see—deeper shadows, highlighted textures and shapes, and other abstract elements that create a darker mood,” she writes. Wasklewicz grew up on Monhegan Island, where she said “a community of creators, makers, and dreamers imprinted me with a desire to document what I see, particularly those moments that evoke an emotion or tell a visual story.” At 16, she was given “a basic point-and-shoot film camera where I further experimented with capturing the shifting moods of my environment. To this day, I am not an equipment purist, only using a phone camera to hold a moment,” she writes. Wasklewicz works for the Portland Public Library and lives on the island with “my blended family of six,” along with dogs, geckos, fish, chickens, and a kitten. Follow her on Instagram at hboody and for more about her work, visit www.heatherwasklewiczphotography.com
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
www.workingwaterfront.com . April 2020
continued from page 1
Town meeting, painting lines, eating doughnuts, and throwing rocks
someone with a previous connection, such as summer camp or family, that draws them back to Maine. New Mainers, like the Pembertons, are moving here for other reasons. “They want simplicity, they want to take advantage of the outdoors,” says Shorey. “When you speak to new Mainers, they say they wanted a different life, and Maine and the people have made it happen.” Griffin LeClair attended one of the meeting meet andwill take place on Islesford. bright red with a black stripe) and, like piece of purple rope to the end of the What’s greets, having found his way back to Maine for in lunch? Homemade pizzas, every other lobster fisherman in Maine buoy line or toggle, but all attachments salads, and By Barbara Fernald 2019. LeClair’s parents are both Maine natives, but desserts. Life gets busier this winter, he read about, talked about, must be made with a splice or a tuck. volunteer to help prepare the and experimented with purple paint. I know it’s a stretch to compare folhe was raised all over the country when as hiswe father first community meal of the season. ACTIVITY on the islands, at the end lowing Maine whale rope requireThe latest whale regulations require served in the Army. After serving six years in the Town meeting is a great opportuof February and into March, is like a ments with a plein air workshop, but all Maine lobster fishermen to use new Army himself, LeClair moved with his wife, a Maine nity to hear about winter from friends mirror image of the action at the end markings on the ropes they attach to a person could return home from einative, back to the Midcoast. and neighbors. “How was your trip to ofLeClair, August who into works September. Just as the lobster traps. Depending on how close ther and say that they’d been paintas a project manager, and his ...?” “Who knew grand-parenting was summer residents of the Cranberry to shore they fish, they will have to add ing in their spare time. If Bruce were wife, a teacher, could live and work anywhere they Griffin LeClair, who with his wife, chosen to settle exhausting or that there were so 2-4has Isles end vacations right before purple marks on ineach buoy line. writing an essay on how he spent his want. But their he doesn’t anticipate leaving so Maine for Maine. many cold germs involved?” “You did year-round residents end On warps that are 100-feet or less there winter vacation, painting would be a afall, hostmany of reasons, not least of all because they now all that painting?” These same questheir winter breaks just before the must be one 12-inch purple mark with- part of it. Another part would be the share their home and yard with two dogs, two cats, tions could be asked in September at spring equinox. a few fathoms the trap and a 36- description I heard him tell his brother seaside duplex and now live in side by side in theofrural ducks, guinea fowl, and 15 chickens. a school board meeting in a large subIt’s time to get back to work and inch purple mark within 2 fathoms of Mark about walking to get doughnuts, “I’ve lived in big cities, I’ve lived near cities, and I’ve Downeast fishing community. urb. (Preferably not during the meetreconnect. the buoy. If the warp is longer that Razdrih 100 insettled February, with our son Robin, and in Machiasport. For Razdrih, the minor inconveniences of living 60 Melissa traveled,” says LeClair. “It’s nice to not have the traffic ing while someone else has the floor!) Our annual town meeting takes our grandchildren Henry and Cora. I feet, the requirement is for a 12-inch miles from the nearest city are far outweighed by other and not have the hustle and bustle.” In January and February, Bruce and place on the second Saturday in March. the trap, a second 12- was away with friends in Portland, and foundmark livingnear in Maine. Pemberton doesn’t miss the hustle and bustle, perks she and her family havepurple I got to to spend a“We lot have of time with our moving For selectmen and Maine’s town employees, was people away with in inch at purple mark halfway to the buoy, “I feel like Stephanie I meet more here,”friends she says, not regretted all,” says Razdrih, either, and has found lack of big box stores grandchildren in Southern Maine. winter has been anything but a vacaand a 36-inch mark near the buoy. Florida. Father and son were in charge. who, when pressed, will say she sometimes dreams of recalling a recent town meeting, where the mood was be a positive, not a negative. Visiting themeasier was access the main goal offood. Bruce figures he will be putting tion. have been working “Yeah, we “Igotlove doughnuts at The warm 1,500 and conversational. the transparency, to Mexican “It’sThey refreshing that there steadily, are very few chains most of our winter travel. We considgathering information to write the Cookie Jar and then walked to You the to 1,800 markings on his rope in all; two “The other day I was debating driving an hour in the accountability, the people knowing people. here. If I need something, it’s nice to be able to ered trying to paint our kitchen, but warrant for town meeting. It’s the time beach for a picnic and to throw rocks.” to three weeks of extra work if he does support a small business owner,” says Pemberton. the snow for Taco Bell,” she says, laughing. “I liked don’t have that in big, crowded places.” we kept catching odd virusof feel year like we come together life. as a We townreally to enjoy Eating homemade donuts and it without hiring help.But A number of fish- from Speaking experience, Shorey says building being in acoughing place where you can find diverse foods. “I it simplifies that es and experienced more down time decide on projects and spending and ermen are applying paint to their ropes throwing rocks at the beach—if that here, I love seeing how Native culture is mixed into connections in their new hometowns is the best way aspect of things.” weno wanted, so we never got towe’ve it. lost how money is toRazdrih be raised by shethan isn’t a become mirror image many childby resting them insome 3-foot long gutters to help new Mainers lifelongofMainers. everything, too. What in contact with Newmuch Mainer Melissa says finds Maybe I’ll paint it in May, when I can property taxes. made from pipe. ishood summers on Islesford, I don’t “Retention equally as important as attraction; we ways. ” lengthwise-halved PVC significant downsides to living in Maine. Together cultures, we’ve gained in other have the windows open. Discussion of the school budget know what is. Bruce’s first attempt was with spray paint q Living Downeast, Razdrih says she has gained a need people to stay,” says Shorey. “And we want to with her husband, parents, and seven-year-old saw more than enough paint, butthe alone canRazdrih take welllast over an hour. The fromBruce hekind soonofmoved on to thehelp more effi- find their community because that’s what people connection to her community, connection daughter, summer moved Tampa, anyway, this winter. During his “time islands take turns hosting the meetcient brush and latex paint. Barbara helps people to stay.” Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Florida, to Machiasport, where the family found a that is hard to find in a big city. ing and the luncheon. This year, town off” he painted 600 buoys (white and Some fishermen will add a 3-foot Cranberry Island) with her husband Bruce.
As winter winds down, islanders mix prep work and gatherings
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www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
Castine community rallies around childcare Former water tank is home to Learning Place In the December/January issue, the Rock Bound column included observations about the nonprofit childcare center created in Castine by mostly volunteer efforts. We felt the success of this endeavor was worthy of its own story.
By Tom Groening
n 2017, a couple of college professors from Pennsylvania who retired to Castine found a way to contribute to their new community. The story then was that the childcare facility they wanted to establish would rise from a century old, in-ground water tank that had served the village downhill. Today, the story is how the vision became reality and how the Community Childhood Learning Place is providing a safe, engaging environment for the children of working parents. The facility, like the tank before it, is circular. A wide, welcoming entrance with painted murals depicting the four seasons leads to doors that open on a conference room, an office, and then to the slice-of-pie-shaped rooms where children gather according to age range. The building contains about 4,000 square feet of floor space. In the center “studio” room, ideal for children’s art projects, the ceiling rises in a soaring cone shape with a chandelier near the peak. Despite the architectural grandeur, there’s no fussiness or institutional sterility. I visited in the evening, shortly after the last child had been picked up by a parent, and the building looked very much like a small elementary school, with large volumes of educational and activity materials loosely organized on shelves and tables, and notes, lists, and instructions on the walls. Nancy Sayre, a retired professor who taught early childhood development, was the driving force behind the center and she now holds the title of executive director. Her husband W.G. Sayre, a retired chemistry and physics professor, ended up as volunteer project supervisor. He estimates the building would have cost three times more if it hadn’t relied on some 50 volunteers. Help also came in generosity from professionals and tradespeople, including: architectural services from Tim Mohr and Sherman Todd, plumbing and electrician work billed lower than bids, concrete from Wardwell Construction at wholesale price, and a 21 percent discount on materials from Hammond Lumber.
The architects even persuaded window manufacturer Pella to discount its products for the project. The building has 8-inch-thick walls providing excellent insulation, W.G. said., and it heats well with a high-efficiency propane boiler. The building used most of the original stone foundation. While it was being improved, workers found a cannonball embedded in the stones, a testament to Castine’s long history of military battles. Director Ren Albon is assisted by a staff of four. She explains that the Reggio Emillia approach is used, which the center’s website describes as focused on “the image of the child,” with teachers observing the children interacting with the environment and asking questions. “Through the use of natural materials, paint, chalk, crayons, clay, drama, music, and light table the children will develop knowledge and skills about topics related to their interests. The indoor and outdoor learning environment revolves around the child,” the website explains. The center opened on Dec. 2, 2019, and, when the pandemic hit, closed three months later. It is again operational, and serves 28 at full capacity, opening at 7:30 a.m. for children too young for school and closing at 5 p.m. Currently, the age range is from three months to nineyears old. COVID has lent an urgency to the work, Nancy Sayre said, since many private daycare centers have closed. The answer, she asserts, is “small communities stepping up.” She is blunt about what is available to most families. “Most daycare is mediocre to poor,” says Sayre, and she is clearly proud of the level of thought that guides programming at the Community Childhood Learning Place. It’s being reviewed for accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Albon says the center runs well with no real behavior problems. “The space makes a big difference,” she says. “Circular buildings are calming.” The well-structured environment also helps. Children arriving from Castine’s nearby Adams School are asked to spend the first hour on homework, but other, non-school like activities abound, like sitting on yoga mats while music plays and simple meditation exercises. “They know the expectations. They know what they need to do,” Albon said.
W.G. Sayre, Ren Albon, and Nancy Sayre at the new Community Childhood Learning Place. PHOTO: TOM GROENING
The older children have jobs that rotate. The names are posted on the wall next to the job: sous chef, librarian, mammologist, kindness. Though it’s a nonprofit, the center charges $195-$255 for all-day attendance, depending on age, and $85 a week for three hours a day, including a snack. The national average tuition for such daycare is $10,000, Sayre
said. The center’s annual budget is $225,000 and if an endowment is established, the hope is to offer scholarships. “All the parents are working,” W.G. points out. The center draws from families from Castine, Penobscot, Orland, Blue Hill, Bucksport, and Brooksville.
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The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
A different kind of book in gestation Columnist embarks on post-partum exploration By Courtney Naliboff IN 2014 I had a baby, and in 2019 I wrote a song about it. It’s called “Tear Me in Two,” referring not just to the physical act of childbirth, but of the feeling I had as a new parent of this second person, an extension of myself and also her own self, suddenly existing as a separate entity from me. Bait Bag recorded it and filmed a video for it. In a cold, dark tunnel on a Casco Bay island, I found myself talking to my bandmates, our producer, and our videographer about some of the more surprising things my body and mind did after I delivered. In the song, and in our conversation, I kept returning to the phrase “Nobody told me.” Nobody told me how anemic I would be. Nobody told me that nursing could feel like an electrical fire in my nerves. Nobody told me how to wean and support my mental health. And several other things too graphic for this venue.
I realized something after that conversation—while there were books galore describing what my body was up to during pregnancy, and an overwhelming number of resources about baby food, baby sleep, and baby brains, there didn’t seem to be a book directed at the person who had the baby after the baby was born. Not too long after I had that epiphany, I decided that I might as well be the one to write it. I started a Google Doc, labeled it “The Postpartum Body Book,” made a short list of things I thought should be in there, and quickly stalled out. I’m an OK writer, if I’m allowed to say so myself, but I have limited knowledge and no expertise in the area of postpartum recovery, just personal experience. The doc sat there, untouched, and I stayed mad about the injustice of it all, and we won an award for the music video, and a pandemic hit, and about a year later I was chatting with a friend who happens to be a pelvic floor physical therapist and is absolutely an expert in all of the
things I wanted to write about and who was my go-to for postpartum questions. I mentioned wanting to write a book and said she should write it with me, and she said OK. We were off and running, drafting a list of topics, interviewing postpartum people, writing whole chapters. In April I cheekily asked a literary agent friend to look at a proposal for another project, and when she asked what else I was working on, she gave the postpartum project a huge thumbs up. By October, she was our agent. In November, she submitted our now very polished (thanks to her) proposal and sample chapters to a list of publishers. And in December, we sold the book to Avery. I’m beyond gobsmacked at the fact that we have a book deal, my dream since I got the writing bug. But I’m even more excited at this opportunity to repair a little bit of the inequity inherent in the health care system, where preventative care is devalued, and the gestational parent is often treated as a vessel for the baby,
essentially forgotten after the cursory six-week checkup. Our book, The Postpartum Human, is for anyone who’s been pregnant past the second trimester: not only women, not only parents, not only recently postpartum people. We have a lot of writing left to do, joyful and challenging work in response to the problem of “nobody told me.” I’ll still be in this column as well, checking in from North Haven most months as we keep bouncing from crest to trough of each new wave. Right now, though, I feel right on top. Courtney Naliboff is a wife, mother, teacher, writer, and musician who lives on North Haven. We congratulate her and are confident she’ll produce a valuable book. She may be reached at Courtney.Naliboff@gmail.com.
Journal of an Island Kitchen
A Maine island take on Candlemas Marking halfway point helps us understand season By Sandy Oliver ON FEB. 2, many Americans look to Pennsylvania to see if the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerges to see his shadow or not. If he does, it means there are six more weeks of winter. Folks, on Feb. 2, there will be six more weeks of winter no matter what. Some woodchuck blinking his eyes against the sun doesn’t change the length of time until spring arrives on March 20 this year. Feb. 2 marks the halfway point between the winter solstice, Dec. 21, 2021, and the spring equinox on March 20, 2022. It’s one of the cross-quarters, or halfway points, between the solstice and equinox dates. In early times, when agricultural people paid more attention to the movement of the sun than most of us do, cross-quarters were observed, and Feb. 2, or the pre-Christian Celtic Imbolc, was renamed Candlemas by the early Christian Church which was awfully good at oozing over ancient, sometimes pagan observances. Traditionally, candles were blessed that day, which the church observed ceremonially as the time that the Virgin Mary, in obedience to Jewish law, went to the temple in Jerusalem
both to be purified 40 days after the birth of Jesus, and to present him to God as her firstborn. An old verse runs: “Down with the rosemary, and also, Down with the bays and mistletoe; Down with the holly, ivy, all, Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall.” To make sure people cleaned up their Christmas mess, a superstition was bandied about that goblins infested decorations left up after Candlemas eve. Around here, Christmas greens are most likely to be infested not by goblins but tiny spiders who ride in on firewood and dusty dead needles, faded and dreary by early February. More to the point was the saying, “Half your wood, and half your hay, you should have by Candlemas Day. Half the winter has passed away, we’ll eat our supper by the light of day.” Of great concern to practical farmers and home keepers was having enough to get through the rest of the winter. In Maine, you jolly well better have more than half because winter is longer here. At our house, heating season doesn’t kick in until halfway through October or even November, but May and even early June can be bone-chilling, especially on islands
surrounded by winter-cooled water, slow to warm until mid-summer. Sometimes the Christian Lent, a time people used to fast, becoming fish eaters, or else an early version of vegans, begins in February, this year in mid-March. Lent always looked to me like a strategy of extending winter supplies, too, particularly meat and dairy. With any luck, people would have blown out the meat supply during Christmas feasts, or in America at Thanksgiving. Then, too, in early days, dairy animals needed their milk to feed spring-born calves and lambs. Changes to modern animal husbandry and industrial food processing means we’ve lost those ancient astrological connections and lurch around ignorant of seasonality in our diets. And besides lots of people, following their New Year resolutions, start their fasting in January, calling it a diet, or “eating healthy.” At any event, by Candlemas, though, we can often tell whether there is enough for winter or not. And so, Candlemas is my third favorite holiday after Thanksgiving and Christmas because it is the time to share your winter surplus with someone who needs a bit more to get through to first harvests.
Friends and I used to gather for a potluck dinner that day to which I challenged everyone to bring islandorigin only food. We ate splendid meals. Sometimes we’d observe sharing surplus. Potatoes, birdseed, canned pickles, and fruits qualified. What fun to swap around. The practice builds community. Charming! Instead of woodchuck-watching on Candlemas, I’ll see how much asparagus and rhubarb I have in the freezer, because it will be a mere three to four months or so before I’ll tuck into the fresh-from-the-garden supply of those delectables. I’ll weigh the remaining potatoes and apples and maybe foist some off on friends who don’t have any. And I’ll vacuum clean the house to make sure no stray evergreen needles, poinsettia, or holly leaves lurk, because…why take chances? Sandy Oliver is a food historian who writes, gardens, and cooks on Islesboro. She may be reached at SandyOliver47@ gmail.com.
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
Letters to the Editor Street people thoughts
Island pinch-hitters needed
Mueller Report redux
To the editor: I just wanted to thank you and all the other writers (Cranberry Report columnist Barb Fernald is a friend) for your continued hard work on The Working Waterfront. I just finished reading your Rock Bound column, “Who do we want to see on our streets?” Nancy Sayre is an inspiration in your story as is your all-too-human admission of not really wanting to follow-up on her phone call for a story. I spent the fall working on an oral history project on Roosevelt Island in New York City where I live. We got a small grant to help gather stories from our locals on their pandemic experiences during our lock-down in 2020. There were many times I did not want to follow through with voicemails and “recommendations.” But it was my job and I always found that I was rewarded by further connections with my community. The simple question of: “Who do we want to see on our streets?” says it all. When we “show up” it eventually does matter in our communities. I also appreciate your publication’s acknowledgement of our continued need for diversity on our islands. Stephanie Bouchard’s article last year on the AfricanAmerican community of Peterborough was beautiful and an eye-opener to me. Histories and who gets agency to tell their stories has fortunately become an important part of our American narrative. I thank you again for continuing to make our island communities better through your writing.
To the editor: Thanks for the excellent breadth and occasional depth of content in The Working Waterfront. I particularly enjoy the regular contributions of the “Big Four” island columnists, both because of how different one is from the other and also the insight each provides about their particular island. I visited Vinalhaven for a couple of overnights for the first time probably because of reading Phil Crossman’s columns over the years, and I will go back next fall to explore more of the island and spend an extra night sitting at the bar at the Sandbar listening to locals spar and laugh for nearly free entertainment and more insight into Vinalhaven’s particular character. This note is to wonder if similar voices might be heard from some of the other islands. Without a huge expansion of effort and space, one might recruit four or five more voices who might write two columns a year, featured on a rotating basis so as not to water down the presence of the Big Four. If the Big Four might like a small break, you could add one of the outsiders in while rotating a break for each of the Big Four and maintain the four-columns space and balance that exists today while adding some color from Chebeague, Swan’s, Peaks, Frenchboro, Cliff, for example. I realize the regular reports from the Island Fellows add some of what I say is missing, but it doesn’t cover the impact gap between the Big Four and the rest of the islands. If nothing changes, I won’t be crushed, but I thought I’d try out an idea with you during a reasonably quiet time of the year.
To the editor: Someone might want to explain to Mr. Whitney out on Great Cranberry that Robert Mueller did not exonerate Donald Trump (Letters to the editor, December/January issue). The Mueller Report laid out ten ways that Trump may have obstructed justice. He left it up to Congress to pursue these crimes. That was before Americans realized that Republicans in Congress would let Trump get away with virtually anything, including the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Thom Heyer New York City and Islesford
Richard Mersereau Brunswick
Edgar Beem Brunswick
What do readers think of Richard Mersereau’s proposal? If an islander wants to take a stab at a one-off column reflecting island life, let me know. I’m at: email@example.com And keep the letters to the editor coming and send them to the above email address with “LTE” in the subject line. They should be 300 words or so. Longer opinion pieces should be cleared first with me. —Tom Groening
Biddeford’s Lafayette House dates to 1798 Readers fill in the gaps on historic building WE PUBLISHED a 1936 photo of Biddeford’s Lafayette House, shot by Dominic Avanzato, in our December/January issue, and asked readers if the building were still standing. Here are some of the responses we received: “I can say with certainty that the Lafayette House still exists as the office for Deering Lumber on Elm Street (Route 1) in Biddeford,” wrote James Kroll of that community. “I went past it about an hour ago.” Kroll adds that according to A History and Stories of Biddeford it was built in 1798 by Col. Seth Spring, a veteran of the battle of Bunker Hill. “It was his residence and an inn and became a regular stop for stagecoaches. It was known as the Spring House back in the day as it is located on Spring Island. In 1825 Lafayette himself stopped there.” Kroll also noted some construction details. “I was on the third floor of the building once and it has impressive and unique period woodworking, but the rest of the interior has been modernized with no trace of its original detail. Still, I’m glad to see that it now serves another purpose and wasn’t demolished. The exterior looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1936 photo, but there are a few modifications, the main one being an addition off one side of the building which is the store part of the business.” Bill Alcorn added that Seth Spring may have operated a toll bridge for travelers crossing the island. “I worked in that building from 1963 to 1971, first for the owners, Deering Lumber, then set up the office of wood structures in 1966. Deering Lumber was owned by Tom Armstrong, now by his son C. D. Armstrong.
The Lafayette House in Biddeford as documented in 1936.
The offices of Deering Lumber in the Lafayette House today. PHOTO: COURTESY KYLE H. NOBLE
“You can see the smokestack in the very left of the photo. That wood-fired boiler produced steam for a big engine that ran every piece of machinery through a system of belts and pulleys. “The boiler, sawmill, planing mill, and cabinet shop were all gone by 1963, along with the last of the Deering family.” And Alcorn adds more construction details: “The pine clapboards covering the building were still sound back in the ‘60s, as was the birchbark head flashing over the windows and doors.” Brad Dausses knows the building well but had this observation: “I’ve always thought that it was a weird looking building for where it is, located on the island in the middle of the Saco River.” And a bit more history about its namesake, the Marquis de Lafayette of France, a French aristocrat
and military officer who fought in the American War of Independence, commanding American troops, from Nick Kingsbury. He writes that in 1825, Lafayette gave a speech in Kennebunk under a tree later dubbed the “Lafayette Elm” near today’s Storer Street. “That evening, he went to Biddeford and stayed at Spring’s Tavern,” he writes. “My dad was the accountant at Deering Lumber, 1939-1948. Somewhere there’s a photo of two-month-old me in Dad’s arms on the front steps of this building.” And more personal history from Amos Gay of Dayton: “When I was a kid, some 70 years ago, it was a common sight to see horse drawn wagons hauling newly sawn lumber to a nearby board yard on Scammon Street in Saco, which presently serves as a shopping center.”
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
Building on centuries of tradition From fish ladder to financing, resilience abounds By Anthony Chatwin I AM AN ALEWIFE GUY. I know that sounds strange, but I am not alone. In fact, there is a community of us out there who have fallen under the spell of those small, silvery, oily fish that are hardy and resilient, and whose fascinating life cycle keeps them coming back from the sea, swimming into Maine rivers and coastal lakes to spawn every year. In fact, alewives are interwoven in the fabric of Maine’s coastal communities. Back in the spring of 2012 I visited the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder. I saw four pickup trucks lined up in the parking lot. I was told they were lobstermen who were waiting their turn to buy their share of alewives so they could use them as bait in their lobster traps. Given that the timing of alewife runs is uncertain, lobstermen often would wait, sometimes for days, until they got what they came for. I was also told that this alewife harvest has been taking place for centuries and that it is managed by Maine’s towns with the purpose of being fair and equitable to
lobstermen, whose industry is so vital to Maine’s coastal economy. I felt such a strong sense of community, with people looking out for each other. This was further reinforced by the collective efforts of the residents of Newcastle and Nobleboro who were working together to restore the alewife run. That restoration project resulted in 1.2 million adult fish, approximately six times more than prior to the restoration, reaching Damariscotta Lake annually where they will spawn to start another generation. That makes for a much healthier ecosystem and a lot more bait for lobsters. I felt privileged to participate in such successful community driven effort which exemplified the power of collective action. Little did I know that today, ten years later, I would be leading the Island Institute team which works every day to support communities as they work to help themselves and each other. While taking all the precautions that are called for in this pandemic, I am visiting as many island and coastal communities I can to learn about their cultures and histories. Every
community has faced changes over time, and the mix of modern and historic buildings stands as testament to their efforts to overcome challenges that threaten their wellbeing. I am impressed with Mainers’ enterprising spirit and work ethic. On visits to Vinalhaven, Chebeague Island, and Islesboro, the collective impact of communities is clearly visible in one or more homegrown efforts to secure daycare, schools, broadband access, profitable businesses, community centers, and affordable workforce housing. During a recent visit to Chebeague Island I met two lobstermen who talked to me about their challenges with bait. Today, accessing bait is still a major challenge and cost for a lobster business, as it can rapidly erode hardearned profits. These lobstermen could get the pogy, a different species from the alewives but just as prolific, into their boats but could not bring it to shore to freeze because the island lacks the infrastructure for the job. It was clear to me that if the resident fishermen would agree to collaborate and share a new hydraulic lift, the Island Institute could help make that a reality
through a loan from our Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund. Such an investment would significantly change their profitability and contribute to greater economic resilience of the island community. The climate and oceans are changing at an ever-increasing pace, adding to existing challenges and creating new ones. The Island Institute is working to help island and coastal communities overcome these challenges and navigate these changes. I hope the centuries-old alewives harvest will continue, but I recognize that 21st-century solutions are needed to build resiliency. My goal is to scale this organization’s work where we have the greatest impact, and I look forward to learning from our partners in building community from the sea up. Dr. Anthony “Tony” Chatwin is president of the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront. He may be reached at tchatwin@ islandinstitute.org.
Circulation, temperature data reveals future Research begins to explain Gulf of Maine species shifts By Susie Arnold
BEFORE COVID, the fishing and marine science community would be gearing up for the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum. This will be the second consecutive year without an inperson forum, but efforts to understand the changing Gulf of Maine continue. The Maine Climate Council’s Scientific and Technical Subcommittee recently documented the latest science, detailed in the 2021 Maine Climate Science Update, to guide the council’s decisions on how best to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Below are examples of key updates. A growing body of research is revealing important connections between the rapidly warming Arctic and changes in marine ecosystems at lower latitudes. Numerous studies have linked a 20th century slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (a major current system in the Atlantic Ocean) with a northward shift of the Gulf Stream and retreat of the Labrador Current, resulting in warmer water entering the Gulf of Maine through the Northeast Channel. A new analysis of nearly a century of hydrographic data supports this hypothesis. Satellite altimetry and field measurements show that beginning in
2008, the Gulf Stream migrated closer to the tail of the Grand Banks. This shift reduced the input of the colder, fresher Labrador Current, and within one year after the appearance of the unusually warm and salty water at the tail of the Grand Banks, subsurface warming progressed in the Gulf of Maine. This ability to monitor and understand the Gulf Stream-Labrador Current interactions and their impacts on the region may help us predict future conditions in the Gulf of Maine and shifts in species distribution and abundance. For context, ocean temperature records in Maine date back to 1880, and the historical mean of annual average sea surface temperature is 48.6 degrees F. The latest 12-month average is 3.8 degrees warmer than the historical average, and under all emission scenarios is projected to continue to increase. By 2050, under the high emissions scenario, Downeast Maine coastal temperatures will be similar to southern New England today. While southern New England ocean temperatures may sound nice for swimming, they are drastically impacting marine species. The abrupt warming that occurred in 2009-2010 prompted an ecosystem shift with consequences for endangered marine mammals and commercially important fisheries.
More troubling, perhaps, is that warming and reduced salinities have altered the composition of the phytoplankton community at the base of the marine food web. In turn, these changes have resulted in some significant declines and shifts in distributions of the cold-water copepod, Calanus finmarchicus. This species of zooplankton is a critical part of the food web and is an energy-rich food source for many marine animals including fish, lobster, shrimp, and whales. New research describes how the climate-driven changes in ocean circulation, including the 2010 Gulf of Maine regime shift due to changes in the Gulf Stream, led to less favorable foraging for North Atlantic right whales, reducing the calving rate, and exposing them to greater mortality risks from ship strikes and entanglements. With the warming of the Gulf, right whales began abandoning traditional foraging grounds like the Bay of Fundy. Since 2015, more right whales are foraging in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and coinciding with this change is an unusually high mortality rate since 2017. The Maine northern shrimp fishery has also suffered from climate-induced impacts. The formerly robust fishery was closed in December 2013 after a
collapse following an intense 2012 Gulf of Maine marine heatwave. New evidence suggests that longfin squid, which are voracious predators, migrated into the Gulf of Maine much earlier than normal during early onset of spring conditions in 2012, coinciding with the presence of female shrimp. These shifts in migration phenology (the timing of when organisms migrate), along with an expanded presence of squid in offshore waters in 2012 and 2013, likely led to unrecoverable levels of predation on the shrimp population. The fishery has yet to reopen. We are all getting a clearer look at what climate change means for Maine. We know what needs to be done to mitigate further change. Check out Maine’s new climate plan website, a comprehensive resource for climate action in our state, and be part of the solution. Susie Arnold is a marine scientist with the Island Institute, publisher of The Working Waterfront. She holds a doctoral degree in marine biology and works on economic, clean energy, and sea level rise issues. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
A wintry slice of island life
Weather, boat trips, shopping—all in a day’s work By Barbara Fernald IT’S THE AFTERNOON of Jan. 6 and I’m in my studio on Little Cranberry Island, wondering if I have an island tale to tell on the day before my deadline. I usually have some idea by now, but not this week. I would have started writing this morning but I had to get some groceries. I had not been off island since before Christmas and after family visits our supplies were getting low. My plan was to shop earlier in the week on a day when I would be off island for a medical appointment, but I came down with a cold. Despite a negative rapid test, I had to reschedule my appointment. The following day was windy enough to cancel the afternoon boats. A snowstorm is on its way tomorrow and the weather man says we might get up to 10 inches. This morning was my best window to go off. I took the 6:30 a.m. commuter boat, in the dark, with ten other passengers. Among them were several high school students. Some of the people who ride this boat return on the 5 p.m. commuter boat, coming and going in the dark for a number of weeks.
We watched the sky lighten. Today was island in winter, you need to remember too gray for a sunrise but the morning to allow time for the ice scraping and shoveling of both the island car and the view from this boat can be spectacular. “I send a video from the boat off-island car. Today I had all kinds of time, which every morning to my grandson,” said Linda, who is the deckhand for was good because I ended up directly the salt truck going 15 to 20 her husband Danny, the captain. behind In Northeast Harbor we stepped onto mph all the way to Bar Harbor, so it the float and the ramp up to the dock took a little longer than usual. This was steep. The shoppers among us was also good because of the black ice. I got to Hannaford’s smiled knowing that around 7:30. My friend the tide would be nice Evelyn, with long and high by the time connections to Islesford, is we returned with bags a store manager there. We to carry. At this time chatted a bit about how our of year that steep ramp can be treacherous. If it’s icy you have families and people on the island were doing. If it’s icy you have to to hang on tight She asked, “Would you hang on tight to the to the railing. be willing to take a package railing. If the ramp is over to Serena?” Of course. salted, that rock salt She was going to drop it off acts like marbles under on the boat the day before foot. It’s a one-bag-atbut it had been canceled. a-time transit on a low There were just a few tide ramp in winter. This morning the ramp was neither icy other customers and I imagined how nor salty so the black ice in the parking busy it would be later in the day as more lot came as a bit of a surprise. We each people shopped for the storm. I checked walked like penguins to our cars which a few more things off my list at the health were covered in a rather unyielding food store and stopped in at Walgreens layer of thin ice. When you live on an to see if they had any home test kits.
“Nope. Saturday,” was the robotic reply from the young cashier. On to Sherman’s bookstore to pick up some birthday cards and then back to Northeast Harbor by 10 a.m. with an hour to wait for the 11 a.m. boat. I had time to shop more or go to the library in Northeast, but I parked near the dock facing the water as many of us do while we wait for the boat. Here we can see if we know anyone who might be going back to the island in their own boat. An early ride home is good luck! This morning it was fine just watching the birds and the happenings in the harbor. The sun was out, it was a mild day and I felt well stocked for tomorrow’s storm and beyond. To top it off, the tide was nice and high as I carried my bags down the ramp to catch the boat home. Barbara Fernald lives, writes, and makes jewelry on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island). She may be reached at email@example.com.
Burned in Florida
Warnings were eclipsed by vanity By Phil Crossman A FEW YEARS AGO I went to Florida on vacation and encountered something new. I’d never seen a woman in a thong before. Of course, I’d seen pictures of them but seeing them actually move around close enough to, well, study, is different. I’m glad I waited. At this stage, happily married and with an adolescent daughter, it was my natural interest in structural engineering and design that was aroused. The blonde who would before long occupy my first thong bikini showed up around mid-morning in shorts and a tank top and arranged a chaise lounge poolside right next to me. She was beautifully browned and gorgeous. There were other places she could have stationed herself and so it didn’t seem much of a leap to assume that lying there in my blue polyester swim trunks, she found me tempting. That the novelty of that much male Maine epidermis nearly dead for lack of vitamin D, of a complexion that would have made the Aryan Nation proud, in a sea of perfect brown bodies, excited her a little.
I marveled at the foresight of She had a little bag and withdrew from it a couple of towels, sunglasses, someone 20 years ago having named and a paperback copy of Clear and her Hope. In a few minutes she returned wearing Present Danger (no, I’m afraid it was something that had been previously lost on me). I rolled over onto my back. I didn’t residing, albeit not as happily, in a little want my varicose veins to frighten cloth bag. Her companion emerged from the changing room with a similar her away. An attendant came around outfit and arranged herself on a chaise immediately and asked her if she’d nearby. The motel routinely posts SUNBURN like anything. I’d already been there 15 minutes and he hadn’t even spoken WARNING signs next to the pool. It changed every few to me. hours. Presently it read: Suddenly a young DANGER OF SUNBURN brunette came flying 10 MINUTES. DANGER around the corner on OF SEVERE SUNBURN roller blades and, groping I didn’t want my 15 MINUTES. for some purchase on I realized that they’d my chaise, lurched to a varicose veins to arranged their chaise stop next to “us” (our relationship had matured frighten her away. lounges to best avail themselves, not of my in my mind). proximity, but of the “Where’s your suit, sun. I rolled over and Hope?” she asked sat up allowing my towel Hope held up a tiny to drape itself over my bag and withdrew a little string and some tiny swatches of cloth. shoulders so its ends hung down It looked like the semaphore flags from and covered my chest which rode nowadays so much lower than it used Malibu Barbie. “Right here, Vicki. I’ll go put it on,” to, side by side, as it were, with its companion ego. said Hope.
She got out some lotion. I gazed at that place in the middle of her back she couldn’t reach and thought how useful I could be. Then I began to recognize the tingle I felt for what it was, sunburn, and not the anticipation it was once. My last words to Elaine before she’d left for her walk down the beach rang in my ears. “Suntan lotion is for sissies.” I stood up, mustered my vanity, and headed back into the shade. Back in Maine we had some friends over for dinner. We spread pictures of our trip all over the table. Karol zeroed in on a clandestine shot Elaine had taken of me preening next to the ladies and observed, “Well look! Victoria’s Secret meets Modern Maturity.” Phil Crossman remains happily married and lives on Vinalhaven where he serves on the town select board. See more of his writing at his website, philcrossman.com. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
Maine Maritime Academy names new president Jerald Paul is a graduate of academy
MAINE MARITIME ACADEMY has named Jerald later served as a reactor engineer on shoreside S. “Jerry” Paul as the college’s 15th president. Paul, nuclear reactors. current president of Capitol Access and a 1989 For more than 20 years, he practiced law as a graduate of the institution, will take office this spring. member of the federal and Florida bar, including Paul succeeds William J. Brennan who steps down advocacy as a government affairs consultant and from the position in April after 12 years at MMA. strategist. “Jerry has the background, experience, and Paul served as a deputy administrator of the personal demeanor that is U.S. National Nuclear Security ideally suited to lead MMA Administration with oversight at this important time in our and management of nuclear history,” said Brennan. “I ask defense programs, nuclear the entire MMA family and the nonproliferation, and naval A marine engineering Castine community to join me reactors. in congratulating him. We are As a former senior official technology major, Paul eager to have him and his family within the U.S. Department of join us.” Energy, Paul has been engaged A marine engineering throughout domestic and graduated in the top 5 technology major, Paul international energy markets. He graduated in the top 5 has operated an energy consulting percent of his class with percent of his class with two firm specializing in regulatory minors at MMA, powerplant policy and development of energy two minors at MMA management and nuclear technology. engineering. After MMA, he He formerly served as an earned a degree in nuclear elected member of the Florida engineering, conferred with House of Representatives. high honors, and a doctorate of “I am honored to be offered this law, conferred cum laude. opportunity to return to my alma Paul held an unlimited tonnage U.S. Coast mater and lead the Academy that provided me with Guard 3rd engineer license and a Maine third the tools that enabled me to achieve success,” said class engineer license. He sailed on merchant Paul. “My wife, Kristy, and I are eager to come back to marine vessels intermittently and served as an Castine. We love this town, its maritime heritage, and engineering officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He especially its people, including our local friendships.
Jerald S. “Jerry” Paul
We look forward to beginning the transition in the new year.” Paul will take the helm as the college celebrates its eighth decade and prepares to welcome a new training ship, expands academic offerings, and builds upon its reputation as a world-class maritime training institution.
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www.workingwaterfront.com . february/march 2022
Art of the Waterfront
Jazz harbor: Stuart Davis in Gloucester Painter improvised in a Cubist mode By Carl Little LOCATED 25 OR SO miles northeast of Boston on Cape Ann, Gloucester is among the busiest fishing ports on the East Coast. An important shipbuilding center dating back to the early 1700s, over time the town became the hub for a fishing fleet that frequented the Grand Banks. Gloucester was (and remains) an artist magnet, attracting esteemed painters over the years, among them, Fitz Henry Lane, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, Cecilia Beaux, and Nell Blaine. A large part of its allure derives from its waterfront. By the time Stuart Davis painted Landscape with Drying Sails in 1931-1932, he was a longtime Gloucester summer resident, having first visited in 1915 at the invitation of fellow painter John Sloan, whose red cottage in East Gloucester served as a kind of boarding house for artists. Based in New York City, Davis sought respite from summer heat by retreating to the sea. Lucky for us, his getaways led to some memorable canvases. At age 23 Davis had been one of the youngest painters in the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show, which introduced Americans to innovative European art trends, including Cubism. He embraced new ways of representing the world and became renowned for his modernist paintings in which he appeared to improvise—not a surprise, as he adored jazz. When he looked at the bustling Gloucester waterfront, he saw a medley of marine
subjects and set out to render it as a collage-like composition. Ben Fuller, Penobscot Marine Museum curator, helps identify some of the elements of the painting. The central craft is an Eastern rig dragger or trawler, which, he explains, “took the place of the sailing dory, which used hooks, lines, and bait.” Fishermen dragged a net over the side from two points, the drying sail serving as a “steadying sail…as these vessels were all engine powered.” Moving left to right, the upside-down V-shaped object is the net hauler while “the black thing with the funny cap,” called a Charlie Noble, might be the stove pipe. The “toothy” object is part of the winch system to haul the net; the short, curved horn near the middle of the deck is the ventilator or air intake. The hoisted-up blue shape on the right could be a net drying. “I think the mast to the left belongs to a different boat,” Fuller surmises, “but [the painter] has moved stuff around so it’s hard to tell.” The name of the business, Net and Seine, may be based on the Gloucester Net and Twine Company, founded in 1884. A photograph of the building features a smokestack similar to the one that appears in the painting. You can trace the evolution of Davis’s aesthetic through his Gloucester paintings, from early
Landscape with Drying Sails, Stuart Davis
post-Impressionist studies to the lively modernist works for which he is best known. The later paintings influenced future generations, including Maine’s own Francis Hamabe, who credited Davis with inspiring his jazz-oriented approach to landscape. The art of Davis and Hamabe reflects their passion for that dynamic milieu that is the working waterfront. For more information about Davis in Gloucester, check out the Cape Ann Museum website. Carl Little’s most recent book is Mary Alice Treworgy: A Maine Painter (Marshall Wilkes).
The Working Waterfront . february/march 2022
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LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO Maine’s working waterfronts are the lifeblood of our coastal and island communities—from boatyards, piers, and seafood processor to marinas, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts, our connections to the people, resources, and experiences we love are dependent on Maine’s working waterfronts! Rapid changes in Maine’s climate and economy are putting tremendous stress on Maine’s coast, and now less than 20 miles of our 5,000 miles remain as working waterfront.
TOGETHER WE CAN TURN THE TIDE
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3 WAYS TO SUPPORT MAINE’S WORKING WATERFRONT: 1 - Online at giving.islandinstitute.org 2 - Call the Island Institute office at (207) 594-9209 ext. 132 3 - Mail your gift to: Island Institute, PO Box 648, Rockland, ME 04841 All gifts count toward membership