Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine

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Summer Comes Again…

Dear readers, I’m hopeful that my blogging hiatus has now come to an end. As I type, I’m sitting, at long last, on our couch in our new home. It’s only new to us – it was built in 1955 and renovated in 2007 – and we love the combination of character with modern amenities. And… best of all (okay, perhaps not of all, but best for this blog)… it’s a house that is hooked up to the internet!

I’m not going to drone on about the features of our new home that I love, although there are many. I’m just thrilled to be writing to you again (and the forthcoming weekly recipes will have the benefit of being cooked on a gas stove!).

Today’s post is a brief preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend – now just a few days away. It’s the official start of summer in Maine (or, perhaps I should say “summer” – as any Mainah knows that late May and early June rarely qualify as summery), and the kick off to the busy tourist season.

This important holiday is a time for us to recognize and honor those who have given their lives for our freedoms and this great country.  First, let’s give thanks for our heroes and their sacrifices.

The holiday also brings with it a slew of events – from formal to informal, from public to private. Here are a few suggestions for your holiday weekend itinerary:

There are many parades to choose from in southern Maine – to list just a few: Portland’s begins at 10:30am in Longfellow Square, and concludes at Monument Square; Cape Elizabeth’s begins at 9am on Ocean House Road, and goes to the War Veterans Memorial next to Pond Cove School; Freeport begins at 9:30am at the high school and proceeds to the town park, with the ceremony at 10am; Kennebunkport also begins at 9:30am at Masonic Hall on Temple Street, ending at Dock Square; and Gorham begins at 11am at Village School, concluding at Eastern Cemetery.

Ray LaMontagne is coming to Portland on May 27th… (I’d be there, if I could be)

“Maine Days” at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – FREE admission for Maine residents!  May 24th, 25th, and 26th. (we all know how much I love the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens…) offers up a full list of 10 things to do this weekend in Maine – check it out!

And, if your entertainment is of the private, family gathering variety, please stay tuned for a weekly recipe post coming your way tomorrow… a pulled barbecue chicken dish that is easy, delicious, and seems like a pretty darn perfect holiday dish!

Happy Memorial Day in advance!  For my holiday, I’ll once again be returning to scenic Jekyll Island, GA and enjoying the sea and the sun.

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Making Memories on Memorial Day

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend brings with it a rush of nostalgia for me – memories filled with Memorial Days spent in Maine, participating in parades or watching from the sidewalk, grilling hot dogs (the red ones, of course) and hamburgers with family, celebrating togetherness and honoring the memory of the servicemen and women who gave their lives for our country.

As we all know, summer starts slowly in Maine. Memorial Day weekend is often the real turning point to summer weather, making it a welcome milestone for Mainers. In preparation for this holiday, I’ve put together a brief listing of events around the state, as well as some opportunities to give back and support those who have served our country:

City of Portland Memorial Day Parade – May 27th at 10am, begins in Longfellow Square
(most, if not all, towns in Maine will have local Memorial Day parades – so keep a look out for news about yours.  I have fond memories of the Memorial Day parade in Gorham)

10th Annual Downeast Birding Festival (you may recall this from my post a week or so ago) – May 24th – 27th, Cobscook Bay area, Maine

Plant Sale at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (NOW is the time to visit this lovely place) – May 25th – 26th, 9am – 4pm (members only on Saturday morning), Boothbay, Maine.  Admission is also FREE for Maine residents (with valid ID), 9am – 5pm this weekend for Maine Days.  How many more reasons do you need?

Barberry... one of my favorite shrubs!

Barberry… one of my favorite shrubs!

Guided Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Presque Isle – Saturday, May 25th, the tour begins at 10am and includes more than 30 historic sites and individuals (approximately 2 miles walking distance).

Embrace history with a tour of museums in Old York, Maine – Monday, May 27th, for just a dollar per building, from 9am – 5pm.

The Wounded Warrior Project is an excellent program committed to providing services to our returning servicemen and women. Their mission is to “foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”

The Maine Military & Community Network strives to raise awareness about the challenges faced by military service members and their families, help to connect them to resources and support, and help them integrate in their communities.

Happy Memorial Day (in advance) – I hope you are able to spend it enjoying the company of family and friends!


Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

What could be more appropriate for springtime than an adventure to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens?  (although, you might want to wait until the snow has melted).  Located in scenic Boothbay, Maine, these gardens reflect the natural landscapes and plants of coastal Maine and demonstrate the rugged, and sometimes wild, beauty of the state.


The basin in the Vayo Meditation Garden

I visited the Botanical Gardens for the first time a couple of years ago with my mom, my sister, and my (now) husband, and I was charmed and intrigued by the extensive gardens, diverse plant life, the emphasis on education, and the opportunity for exploration.  The Botanical Gardens include their Central Gardens (which are ADA accessible, along with the Visitor Center), the Bibby & Harold Alfond Children’s Garden, a number of other gardens, and a wide variety of hiking and walking trails.

I enjoy gardening, and although I’m not (yet) as skilled or as knowledgeable as my mother, what I liked the most about the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens was the variety of plant types, the interest they provided, and the emphasis on those plants that are either native to Maine or grow well there.  Some of my first memories exploring, and truly understanding, the beauty of the Maine wilderness (or, perhaps more accurately, countryside) come from my mother’s work with the Gorham Land Trust – and in particular, protecting the Rhododendron in southern Maine.  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens features the Giles Rhododendron Garden, and although we were, unfortunately, too early to see these lovely, woody plants in bloom, this perhaps made the greatest impression on me because of its significance for my mom.

The Botanical Gardens also offers their Kitchen Garden Cafe for light fare, a  lovely Rose & Perennial Garden, and, at the time we were there, an entire display on how to plant and grow a wall of plants.  Nick downloaded an audio tour via an app that the Botanical Garden offers, and so we were guided  through the majority of our tour.  We explored quite a bit – going all the way to the waterfall overlook, visiting the Fairy Houses, and touring the Children’s Garden – which delighted us as much as it would a child.

View of the Rose & Perennial Garden

View of the Rose & Perennial Garden

I hope you are able to go and expore this garden that shares the best of coastal, southern Maine.

A view of coastal Maine from a wildlife trail

A view of coastal Maine from a wildlife trail



A little ‘Spring’ in your step

It may not feel much like spring in Maine right now – despite Wednesday, March 20th, being the first official day of spring – after all, the state just received another 10-18 inches of snow, depending on your location, and there’s a potential for more in a storm system next week.  But, spring is here, and with it comes a blog post on spring activities in Maine.

Given the recent snowfall, spring skiing should be at the top of the priority list.  As temperatures start to rise, but the snow in the mountains remains, there are rarely better skiing days.  After bundling up for the slopes all winter, there’s nothing more enjoyable than feeling the sun on your face, wearing a fleece, and whipping down the mountain.  For great spring skiing, check out Sugarloaf USA, Saddleback, Sunday River, and more.

One of my favorite things about Maine is that there are four true seasons – you get a real spring, short summer, real fall, and a long winter – and these transitions bring special activities year round. As spring progresses, activities like hiking, gardening, and attending spring and early summer festivals get you outside and enjoying the warm weather.  Stay tuned for a post this week on the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.  Hiking, biking, and experiencing the great outdoors doesn’t get much better than in Acadia National Park.  Their extensive carriage trails provide manageable options for children and inexperienced cyclists as well as more challenging terrain for those looking for adventure.


The end of spring, in June, brings a number of festivals that I want to mention briefly.  In June-July, you can celebrate Maine’s maritime tradition with at the Annual Heritage Days in Bath, Maine.  Also in June, the La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival in Biddeford offers an opportunity to celebrate and explore Maine’s Franco-American heritage.

To close on a personal note:

With spring comes mud season in Maine.  I remember describing this to my husband – the melting of the snow and frost, in combination with spring rain, and the results – deep, squishy, dirty mud.  Lots of it.  The defining image of mud season in my mind comes from my childhood – we lived in a white farmhouse at the end of a dead end road – and every spring, the mud would seep up between the walkway stones, making it impossible to venture from the car to the house without your feet being enveloped in it.  And every spring, my parents would set out a series of low, wooden bridges, made of 2-3 planks each, lifted about 4 inches off the ground, so that we could more easily (and cleanly) manuever from the car to the house.  I will remember the clattering noise of feet, planks, and stones all my life, I’m sure – as well as the childhood joy of leaping from set to set, making it more of a game than a walk.

So – may you enjoy the best of springtime in Maine, with mud kept to a minimum!