Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Down East

The northern coast of Maine is a world away from the mountains of the interior. Small fishing villages are tucked into scenic coves and fishing boats bob up and down safely tethered to their moorings. Weathered clapboard homes dot the horizon and it is as picturesque as I envisioned.

I have to tell you that we are amazed each morning when we emerge from our cabin in the pines to discover just how warm it really is. I swear the temperature is 10 degrees cooler on our bluff and even colder in the cottage. We are grateful to whomever it is that keeps the wood piled high and for the large granite fireplace that wards off the chill each evening.

Our days are filled with visits to places like Cutler and Lubec and stops along the rocky shore. The beaches “Down East” are a far cry from the beaches of south Florida. Sand is a rare commodity and the shoreline is covered in smooth stones worn down by time and the sea. Rock collecting is the hobby of beach goes and I have to admit I too have stooped to pick up a couple that caught my eye during walks at low tide.

And speaking of the tide, the ebb and flow of the sea is much more dramatic here than in our neck of the woods. While we may see a 1 to 3 foot swing in the tides on Marco (and 3 feet would be the extreme) here the tides can fluctuate as much as 18 feet. That rise and fall leaves our little cove high and dry during low tide, a virtual smorgasbord for the gulls and other shore birds that inhabit our bluff.

And then there are the Blueberry Barrens. Did you know that the north east coast of Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the U.S.? We didn’t either.

Blueberries grow low to the ground and are usually found on rocky hills that are white with blossoms in the spring, blue with berries in August and bright red in the fall. Patriotic little devils aren’t they? We missed the harvest but did fine a few of the barrens beginning to show their fall color.

On Monday we left the country for a few hours and crossed into New Brunswick, Canada, Campobello Island to be specific.

As we traveled the 10-mile length of the island we noticed large, circular frames had replaced lobster traps along the water’s edge. We discovered that these interesting objects are floated into the Bay of Fundy and used to house salmon in an effort to do some farming of the fish variety.

The highlight of Campobello is F.D.R.’s summer home. What a spectacular little cottage it was. Boasting 34 rooms, and 17 bedrooms the home sits perched high on a hill with an amazing view of the Bay of Fundy.

It is also the site of the only international park in the world. Seated on Canadian soil yet of great value to the U.S. both countries support the park and keep it open to visitors 6 months of the year.

It was easy to imagine the Roosevelt children playing in the large expanse of yard and woods that surround the property. It is also the location were F.D.R. was stricken with polio in 1920. (I think I got that right.) And is equipped with Roosevelt furnishings left for posterity when the family last visited.

At the tip of the island sits East Quoddy headlight, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine. It sits on a small island separated from Campobello by 30-feet of swirling sea. At low tide the pass is high and dry and one can walk across the ocean floor and climb the stairs for a closer inspection of the lighthouse. Signs warn that the tide comes in quickly and violently and advises returning before the tide turns or enjoying an extended stay at East Quoddy. It was high tide while we were there, but we learned that the day after our visit a couple was caught in the incoming tide and drowned.

This spit of land at the edge of the sea is also a prime location for whale watching. We didn’t see any on this day, but were told that a pod had been lounging off shore just prior to our arrival but had apparently moved on.

(Maybe they had a date with the elusive moose.)


Audrey said...

Wonderful pics!

Anonymous said...

More wonderful pictures. My SIL, the one who just had the birthday, and her husband left the day after her party to go to Maine! They sent a pc from Campobella last week. Did you see each other?!