Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Kickstarting Winter in Maine

It may seem ironic to suggest that Maine “comes alive” at this time of year, when leaves are falling, days are growing shorter, and most are thinking about getting out the electric blanket and hibernating for winter, but that is simply how I think of it.  Spring, with its fresh buds and abundance of mud, will be welcome when it arrives, but late fall and winter bring their own energy to the state.

Winter is for the people of Maine.  Oh, you’ll find a tourist here and there as well as the New Englanders from surrounding states who come to enjoy the skiing, but primarily, it is Mainers themselves who embrace what Maine has to offer in this season.  With the advent of the holidays and winter weather comes the opening of Sunday River and Sugarloaf, ski (and snowboard) sales like the big, annual Down East Ski Club’s 53rd Annual Ski Sale, prepping of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails, and more – all focused on opportunities to enjoy the rugged beauty of the Maine outdoors, even in the colder months.

On the heels of Small Business Saturday, I felt compelled to write a post highlighting some recently published, timely resources.  Maine’s small businesses are the economic engines of the state and provide most of the employment opportunities, so let’s continue to support them through this season and the full year!

First, it is the holidays and many people will be Christmas tree shopping in the coming weeks.  I’ve posted on this topic in years past, but this year I recommend checking out this list from MaineToday.com.

If you make it to Sugarloaf this season, be sure to stop in the new Burton Signature store and say hello to my brother, Ed, in between runs.  Snowboarders rejoice – a store of their own, right on the mountain!  In other news at the Loaf, this week is Locals’ Week – depending on your residence, you ski free through Friday!

Not far from the Loaf is the Rangeley Lakes area – an outdoorsman’s dream in the Maine winter.  Featuring Saddleback Mountain, snowmobile trails, ice fishing, and cross-country ski trails, it has something for everyone (including cozy cabins if you’d rather be inside with a book).

If you’re looking for good local Christmas shopping, look no further than renowned shopping hubs in the Old Port and Freeport.  A few of my favorite stores for holiday gifts: D. Cole Jewelers (husbands, take note); LeRoux Kitchen; and the Maine Potters Market. Other fun, local ideas: head into a craft brewery and grab a gift card, tee shirt, or six-pack for the beer lover in your life; take a tip from Northeast Whitewater and give the gift of a Maine experience (not to mention, studies show people who have experiences / travel / learn new things are happier than those who have an accumulation of goods); or for your skiers and boarders, check out this gift-giving guide.

The state of Maine has something to offer everyone.  When I reflect on the many things it’s given me, I feel truly blessed.

Happy holidays!


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On the Christmas Tree Hunt: Part 2

Thanks for joining me for Part 2 of this post!  To see Part 1, click here.  As you likely know, Maine is the Pine Tree State.  So, in what better state could you find the perfect Christmas tree?

Balsam firs at Tiffany Farm in Medford, ME (about an hour outside Bangor)

Balsam firs at Tiffany Farm in Medford, ME (about an hour outside Bangor)

Historically, people did what I remember so fondly as a child – selecting a tree from the forest.  Today, however, 98% of Christmas trees are plantation-grown, which means most of us are either buying them pre-cut from a tree stand, where the trees have been delivered after being cut down, or we’re going to the plantations and selecting a tree on-site.  I found it interesting to learn that Christmas tree plantations are a benefit to the environment in many ways – for example, just one acre of these trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people daily (per the Maine Christmas Tree Association).  Very cool!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Balsam fir is the tree found most commonly on Maine’s Christmas tree plantations because it is the state’s native fir tree.  Many of the following tree plantations feature primarily Balsams, but I’ve made an effort to find and include those with other tree species as well.

If you live in the Bangor area, Tiffany Farm may be a good option for your tree.  They grow the Balsam firs shown above.  Their farm is located at 89 Fire Tower Road, Medford, ME 04463, and fresh-cut trees are available at 490 North Road, Medford, ME.  Give them a call at 207-732-6127.

Evergreen Acres Tree Farm in North Monmouth, Maine (not far from Augusta) offers both Balsam firs and Douglas firs. They boast a family-friendly atmosphere including free hot cocoa, popcorn, and candy.  All trees are $25, all wreathes $20.  They can be found at 208 Back Street, North Monmouth, ME 04265.  Reach them by phone at 207-212-0056.  They’re open from 9am – 4pm Friday – Sunday.

In York, Maine, you can find Cider Hill Creek Farms, where they have a variety of tree species including the Fraser fir, Balsam fir, and Bue spruce – three of the most popular Christmas tree varieties.  They offer free hot chocolate and visitors may also get a peek at their 6-year-old American Quarter Horse, Clarise.  Their address is 6 Cider Hill Creek Lane, York, ME 03909, and their phone number is 207-475-5068.

Balsam Ridge, in Raymond, Maine, also offers a variety of trees – the Balsam fir, Fraser fir, and Blue spruce.  In addition to offering pre-cut Balsams, they also have “choose & cut” for selecting your fresh tree – and they don’t stop there.  Balsam Ridge has their own sugarhouse and gift shop, where they offer a variety of maple sugar products, including maple butter, maple cream, candy, and of course, their own maple syrup.  Like Cider Hill, they have a horse on-site for the kiddies to get in a quick petting session.  They’re located at 140 Egypt Road, Raymond, ME 04071, and can be reached by phone at 207-655-4474.

Balsam Ridge Maple Sugar Products

Balsam Ridge Maple Sugar Products

There are, of course, many more Christmas tree plantations in Maine.  To see more, check out this page from the Maine Christmas Tree Association to view a listing of 60 tree farms.  On that note, the Maine Christmas Tree Association provides excellent information on tree plantations and caring for your Christmas tree.  They helped me a lot as I was researching for this post.  If you need more info than the above, I recommend checking it out!