Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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This ‘N That

Today is definitely a ‘this ‘n that’ post.  I have several things to share that I find very exciting, and I hope you will, too.

First, an explanation and apology for the relatively quiet blogging weeks I’ve had recently.  Next week, I will be back in Maine (hooray!) to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  I am thrilled to get back home, and over the last month, a great deal of my time has been dedicated to preparing our family’s gift to him – a photobook, made on mixbook.com, that compiles many of the Stark family photos from the beginning of the 1900s through 2013.  This project has been a wonderful experience, but has left little time for blogging.  However, one of my favorite aspects of the project has been the opportunity to learn about my mother’s side of the family, their travels from New England to Europe, and their return to the States, including the 1965 purchase of my grandparents’ first home – a house in the Pennellville Historic District in Brunswick, Maine.  This home, which features classic New England architecture and has a rambling, farmhouse feel, is where many of my favorite childhood memories took place.

My Papa (grandfather) and a much younger 'me' skating on the pond at the Pennellville house

My Papa (grandfather) and a much younger ‘me’ skating on the pond at the Pennellville house

Being back in Maine will also give me the opportunity to visit some new places to share with you all.  Now is the time to begin planning that spring or summer vacation to Maine!  (or your Maine wedding- more on that to come!).

Second, today is my 27th birthday.  It has been a very happy birthday, and I have much to be thankful for at this point in my life.  One of the gifts I received from my mother is a new cookbook from Maine – written by Sandra L. Oliver and published by Down East – it is titled ‘Maine Home Cooking: 175 Recipes from Down East Kitchens.’  After just a brief scan, I am filled with excitement to try and share some of these home recipes from Maine kitchens with you.  I’m also looking forward to learning more about the author, Sandra Oliver.  I find her fascinating already – she lives on the island of Islesboro, Maine, is a food historian and freelance food writer, and she also gardens, preserves, cooks (of course), and teaches sustainable lifeways.  Sustainable living, in the sense of growing and raising your own food supply, is more than just an important piece of American pioneering history – it’s also a skill that few of us can now claim, and one that I am increasingly interested in learning.

Maine Home Cooking cookbook

Lastly, some of you may recall my New Year’s Eve post on the unique New Year’s celebration of Eastport, Maine.  Eastport was once home to thirteen sardine factories, and it is no secret that this industry, like so many others in Maine, has suffered, shrunk, and vacated.  Over the last decade, a significant effort has been made to revitalize downtown Eastport, and I was thrilled to stumble across an article from the Bangor Daily News, posted on Twitter, that highlighted this ongoing endeavor and, in particular, the effort to renovate and restore one of the last remaining empty buildings, the 1908 Seacoast Canning Co. building at 15 Sea Street.  This building is a waterfront landmark, and the current owners (Dirigamus LLC) are looking to develop it – either themselves with additional partners, or buy selling it to a party that has the means to do so.  The building is zoned in Eastport’s Shoreland General Development zone, which allows for a variety of office, retail and hospitality uses – and the three partners of Dirigamus LLC envision a hotel and residential conference center.

For more on the plans for this historic building, please follow this link to the article.

An interesting note – Dirigamus LLC is a partnership formed by three women – Linda Godfrey, Nancy Asante, and Meg McGarvey – and their name is the Latin plural meaning “we lead,” a take on the state of Maine motto, Dirigo, which means “I lead.”  These three have clearly played a fundamental role in the revitalizaton of Eastport.  Way to go, ladies!


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Dropping A… Sardine?

So I came across this Down East magazine article because I follow them on Twitter, and I was absolutely compelled to share the basic content of it here. (you can find me / follow me on Twitter as well, Eliza @mainerootsgirl).

If you take a moment and reflect on major cities’ New Year’s Eve celebrations, the dropping of the glittering ball in New York likely comes to mind, and perhaps the immense fireworks display in Sydney, Australia, or many others.  But the little town of Eastport, Maine, drops two objects on New Year’s Eve – no small feat for a town of 1,331.

They first drop a red maple leaf, in honor of their New Brunswick neighbors, at 12 am Atlantic Standard Time, and then an enormous sardine one hour later, at 12 am Eastern Standard Time.  Sculptor Bill Schaefer created both the maple leaf and the sardine – the maple leaf is five feet wide and made of plywood – and the sardine is eight feet long, painted canvas on a wooden frame.

This unique celebration, which is classically, creatively Maine, has been featured in other news outlets in past years as well.  For the full story and information, please do check out the Down East article – Kiss the Fish (which the revelers line up to do after the sardine is lowered – for good luck in the coming year!).

Harbor in Eastport, Maine

Harbor in Eastport, Maine

Eastport, Maine was once home to thirteen sardine canneries, and possesses the deepest port on the East Coast.  Natural phenomenons seem abundant here: the powerful tides and currents of the bay actually create reversing falls.  Near Pembroke, the rapids that course over Cobscook’s rocky bottom actually reverse direction with  the tide.  In addition, passengers on the ferry between Eastport and Deer Island will catch sight of Old Sow, believed to be the largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.