Forty-three years ago, I began writing about Lincolnville every week for the Camden Herald. The editor at the time, Nancy Griffin, had interviewed me for a story about Lincolnville’s non-existent kindergarten, and our push to have one established. Not long after, she asked if I’d be Lincolnville’s correspondent, one of several (mostly) women covering the small towns that lay outside the borders of Camden-Rockport.
Sure, I said, though I’d never written a thing besides my own diary and letters to friends and family. Town columns at the time mostly covered the correspondent’s own social life: who visited that week and who she visited. If there was an event in town, she’d mention that, and maybe who made the cake for the baby shower or who brought the casserole.
I’d been living in Lincolnville for less than a decade and had spent that time having babies; three babies in seven years does take up your time. I once asked Laura Hall Pendleton about a tragic fire at the Lincolnville-Northport line that took the lives of five people, including three children, in the 1950s. “Never heard of it,” she said. Laura had been in the midst of raising 12 children those years.
Since I had few visitors and wasn’t doing much visiting myself, I decided to ask readers to call me with their news. Bird sightings were popular and became a regular feature of my “Lincolnville News”. I printed any tidbit that came my way and included everyone’s name. And that brought more tips and tidbits, 35 years of them that filled those Camden Herald columns. Space was always an issue in a print paper; back in the day we had to measure our column inches to send in with our bill. Twenty-five cents an inch was my starting pay.
Each season prompts a predictable story: spring planting, summer gardening, fall harvesting, etc. I found the following in my file for 2015 and think it says, with a bit of editing to bring it up to date, all I have to say about November:
MONDAY, Nov. 21
School closed all this week
TUESDAY, Nov. 22
Library open, 3-6 p.m., 208 Main Street
Lakes and Ponds Committee, 7 p.m., Town Office
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23
Library open, 2-5 p.m., 208 Main Street
THURSDAY, Nov. 24
Town Office Closed
FRIDAY, Nov. 25
Town Office Closed
Library open, 9-noon, 208 Main Street
SATURDAY, Nov. 26
Library open, 9-noon, 208 Main Street
AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at noon, Community Building
Lincolnville Community Library, For information call 706-3896.
Schoolhouse Museum closed for the summer, 789-5987
Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway
United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m., 18 Searsmont Road or via Zoom
Dec. 3: Christmas-by-the-Sea in Lincolnville
Every 10 days throughout the summer a tall, lanky guy, with whom we have only a nodding acquaintance, methodically scours the sands of Lincolnville Beach with a metal detector. He arrives before we do and is already at work when we pull up a little after 6 a.m. Sometimes he shows me something he’s found; often it’s a bottle cap or poptop, and he drops them in my little bucket. The more interesting (and valuable) items go into his pocket. I wonder where he plies his trade on the other days, what other beaches he crisscrosses so intently. The guy is one of those who see the world around him as his hunting ground.
I’ve been thinking about the other people whose passions reach well outside the way they make their livings. The very world we inhabit – forest, rocky cliffs and bony outcrops, hills we call mountains, ponds, streams, and bogs, with a four-mile boundary of sea shore – is enough to occupy every one of us for a lifetime. Overlay this incredibly varied topography with the detritus of a millenium’s worth of human habitation, and it’s more than one mere person can ever take in.
Now, I realize that not everyone living among all these riches appreciates them in quite the way I describe. My own mother, visiting us two or three times a year when our children were young, and who ended up spending the last fifteen years of her life here, quite honestly, hated the place. “Whatever you do,” she implored me once, “don’t bury me here.” She was a city girl through and through, and never ever saw here what I saw.
Others are more or less indifferent to their surroundings, living their lives on a different plane than the natural world. The only trees they see are the ones that line the roads they drive, the mountains just a distant line of the horizon, the shoreline nice places to cool off on a hot day. This isn’t to trivialize their interests, just to say that their passions don’t include their physical surroundings.
Then there are the hunters, those folks who see the wildness all around and wonder what’s out there that they might find. Starting at the most literal level, we are in the middle of Hunting Season. Nov. 1-30, roughly, every year, the month when it’s open season on deer. Of course, there are other seasons on other animals, and specific times you can hunt deer with various weapons, but for the sake of argument, November is Hunting Season. Mostly men, some women, along with older children carry a hunting license and take to the woods. It’s the time of year you see pickups parked along roadsides for no apparent reason, dawn to dusk. The rules of hunting require the hunter to be out of the woods by sunset, and there’s no hunting on Sunday, although a hunter can go into the woods to track and retrieve a deer wounded the previous day.
Drive around town this month, and you’ll likely spot the results of the hunt, a deer carcass hanging from a tree in someone’s yard, prior to being cut up into steaks and roasts and stewmeat and popped into the freezer. People hunt for at least two reasons around here, and probably the first is for the meat. The other is for the love of it all – the gear (yes, the guns, often handed down in families, kept cleaned and oiled and ready for November), the anticipation of a chilly fall morning before dawn, the trek through woods to that favorite spot, the wait. I can’t go any further, and write about the thrill that follows when a deer appears because I’m not a hunter, I only live with one. But yes, I believe there is a thrill.
Hunting takes so many forms. People hunt with a camera. Wildlife cameras are set up to capture the image of passing animals, photographers patiently wait for just the right shot of a bird or a forest scene, of a sunset or a snowscape. Photographs can serve as models for a painting, brought home to save the memory of the scene. Neil Welliver was, according to Wikipedia, “a modern artist, best known for his large-scale landscape paintings inspired by the deep woods near his home in [Lincolnville] Maine”; Neil often painted outside in the woods around his Van Cycle Road home. “Painting outside in winter is not a macho thing to do. It's more difficult than that. To paint outside in the winter is painful. It hurts your hands, it hurts your feet, it hurts your ears. Painting is difficult. The paint is rigid, it's stiff, it doesn't move easily. But sometimes there are things you want and that's the only way you get them,” he wrote. Neil was definitely tuned in to the world that surrounded him.
How about the mushroom hunters? I know a bit about this kind of hunt, the waiting for a favorite species to come into season, visiting the site where they’ve been known to grow weeks ahead (and keeping that site secret from other mushroom hunters), then at last, the harvest. The last of the season is always the oyster mushroom, which lasts through the first frosts. Try this with any you find:
Fried Oyster Mushrooms
Cut them into bite-sized pieces, dip in beaten egg, then dredge in a cornmeal-flour mixture that has a bit of baking powder and garlic salt or other seasoning in it, and deep fry. Mmmm!
Among those who live more broadly than their daily work routine would seem to allow, are the explorers. Yes, we have explorers living among us, those who set out into the deep forests that surround us (Lincolnville includes thousands of acres of protected and/or state land designated as Camden Hills State Park, Tanglewood, Fernalds Neck, and other Coastal Mountains Land Trust properties) trying to piece together our early history. Harbour Mitchell, a passionate and dedicated archaeologist, has pursued Native American finds in Lincolnville, and oversaw a dig at the last home of Philip Ulmer, probably Lincolnville’s most interesting and illustrious forebear.
The explorers are fascinated by the old settlements, the cellar holes and the abandoned roads that lay under the forest floor. Their interest can take them up into the hills on a rainy, cold fall day (you have to wait for the leaves to fall to really see what’s there). But just as much excitement was generated on a warm summer evening for a “meeting of the maps” when a dozen enthusiasts met at the American Legion Hall to share their knowledge of our town’s old roads.
The mystery of a lone gravestone in a forgotten cemetery on an abandoned road has absorbed Corelyn Senn for years. “William Delano….died 1826….age 26”. She calls him Willie, has so far been unable to find any reference to him in any local documents, but feels she is getting close to a New Bedford, Massachusetts connection. I have faith in her perseverance; she’s going to find out who he was, and why he’s buried near the shores of Pitcher Pond, the only grave in a rock-walled lot. Update: Corelyn did finally pin Willie to New Bedford along with the detailed story of the sojourn that must have led him to Lincolnville.
If you live in Lincolnville, you almost surely have the forest at your back, or perhaps Penobscot Bay, or one of the ponds. Maybe a stream runs near your house, or you’re perched high up on a hill. An old cemetery may be across the road, or an odd rock formation that appears man-made. Do you feed the birds, bringing wildlife to your window? Do you hunt or hike, forage or follow old stonewalls? It’s all out there, free for the taking….
Next up: Thanksgiving. You either love it or dread it. I’ve filled both categories, depending on whether I was cooking, serving and cleaning it all up by myself (while others went hunting or watched football) or whether I was filling my old lady role of matriarch, responsible only for the cranberry sauce.
Or when I was the little girl, sitting in the back seat with my brother, watching out the window as our mom and dad were driving us through Chicago to the South Side where turkey dinner was cooking in my Nanny’s kitchen.
A Community Thanksgiving
Draa Mackey, pastor of Bayshore Baptist Church writes: “We are so excited to host our first community Thanksgiving celebration! Anyone and everyone are invited to join us on Wednesday, November 23, at 5 p.m. RSVP to find out more, and help us with a headcount. We'll plan to have a Thanksgiving service at 6 p.m. followed by desserts at 6:30. Bring your family and friends as there'll be PLENTY of good cookin' to go around!!!"
Christmas by the Sea
This year the Lincolnville Historical Society will have their building, the Beach Schoolhouse at 33 Beach Road, open on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3 to 6 p.m On display will be our new collection of twenty-five Jax, the exquisitely detailed jack-in-the-boxes made at Ducktrap in the 1990s by Jane and Allan Ross and their crew. We’ll have the place decorated for Christmas, complete with sandwiches, cookies, music, and a chance to greet your neighbors.
As in the past plates of cookies are welcome! Drop them off during the day at the Schoolhouse anytime after 10 a.m. The building will be open. Here’s a chance to make a batch or two of your favorite Christmas cookies, and include a recipe card if you want.
Thanks to Briar Lyons and Aaron Boetsch who are assembling the bonfire at the Beach, it will be lit at about 3:30, Morgan Keating will be leading carol singing at 4, and Santa arrives by firetruck at 4:30.
As unlikely as it seems, Bob Heald and his father-in-law, Gordon Harris (102 years old), died within hours of each other Friday night/Saturday morning, leaving behind a family bereaved by two losses. Bob and Roberta built their home on his grandfather, Claude Heald’s land on Youngtown Road.
It brought to mind Harry and Geneva Collemer who died several years ago a few hours apart in separate places, unaware of the other’s passing.