East of Boothbay Harbor, Maine 4
Ocean Point Shoreline
East of Boothbay Harbor IV (Picking Blueberries)
Mondays were usually chore days, all kinds of chores. After a breakfast of hot blueberry muffins and coffee, the first thing we did was the gathering of one-gallon empty plastic jugs. We put perhaps ten or twelve of them into the car and drove to the spring water well near East Boothbay. It was originally a clear spring that trickled from the woods, but to make matters easier, a huge five hundred gallon drum had been placed at the base of the natural spring several years back with an in-take pipe--that way water continued to flow twenty-four hours a day into a reserve. The drum had a spigot in the front and we quickly filled up our plastic jugs with icy-cold spring water. We did this not only to have good tasting water but also to avoid using rusty pipe water as the cottage pipes had corroded quite a bit over the years and my aunt's budget had become skimpy., Thank heavens for this sping in the woods!
The next chore was a sheer delight for me. We took a cart down to the ocean front and searched for sun-bleached driftwood that, when burned, created a fantastic array of blue, green and red flames as we sat around our evening fire. This drift wood was a veritable gift from the sea. We put armfuls of wood into the cart and hauled them back to the cottage where we sawed the dry wood into nice pieces that easily fit into our fireplace. I stacked a brass tray full of cut driftwood ready for the evening.
One chore I did not like at all was scraping and painting the weathered front porch. Once I scraped a large section of the front porch and swept away the chippings, I dipped my brush into a gallon-can of battleship-gray paint As I painted I thought of Boothbay Harbor back during World War II when U.S. Navy ships pulled into the harbor to give the sailors some r&r. On one hot July day, ten sailors stripped down to their skivies and jumped overboard into icy Maine water. Boy, did they scream as they popped up to the surface.
Gathering Weeds and Sticks for Kindling
While my father cut the lawn and my mother cleaned up the kitchen, I pulled weeds out of the flower garden all around the cottage--the weeds were mostly Canadian thistles. I stacked them into a heap to dry them out and eventually use them for kindling. That was not the only kindling we used, however. I'd gather dried up spruce twigs from the nearby woods and put a neat pile of kindling into a wooden bucket near the fireplace. By the time I finished that chore, we'd all break for lunch, usually grilled cheese sandwiches, chips and some cool iced tea.
Ice Man Cometh
My mother, meanwhile, had called Mr. Van Horn to come by with some ice blocks for our old ice box that we still had during the late 1940s and early 50's. When he came in his old truck, he chisled a block of ice just the right size and dug his ice prongs into it and hauled it up to our kitchen. I asked him where he got his ice from. "Well, sonny, I have this pond on my property that freezes pretty solid in winter. I cut it up with my power saw into many big blocks and load them into a horse-drawn cart. They take the ice to a deep pit I dug years ago and I slide the blocks of ice down into it. Then I cover each layer of blocks with hay and put a crown of hay over the top. That's why you have fresh ice on the 4th of July!"
My last chore of the day was to gather all our trash (except for old issues of The Boston Globe that we used to light a fire with--only after we read each page thoroughly in previous weeks. I placed all the trash into big bags for the trash man to collect early Tuesday morning. By doing these big chores all on one day of the week, we had the other six days to enjoy the coast of Maine and even the outer islands. Meanwhile my mother and father went shopping at the local grocery store where they caught up on gossip. The proprietor mentioned some downcoaster who seemed to be so bored every day not knowing what to do! He said this man must be a bit odd, "ten screws short of a dozen!"
It started to rain really hard as I finished my work. My mother had, by this time, cooked a meal of American raw-fried potatoes, a tasty Spanish omlet, corn on the cob and for dessert, some more fresh-baked blueberry muffins. We all ate slowly and enjoyed our dinner thoroughly as we talked of my older brother he who had a summer job back in Princeton, New Jersey. We missed him, especially on chore-day. My parents called him once a week to check on how things were going.
Relaxing Around the Fireplace
It was time for a cup of hot tea that we usually drank by the fireplace after we lit up the kindling and several logs of driftwood. As we sipped our tea, we enjoyed watching the blue, green and red flames made by the very saltyu driftwood. It felt good to be in a warm cottage sitting by the fire and listening to the steady hard rain splatting down on the cottage roof. We talked about our next trip out to Monhegan Island later in the week and checked maps of the island whose shores Captain John Smith described in his journal of the 1600's. The usual symphony of foghorns along with the tolling bell at Ram Island Lighthouse began as a late evening fog thickened. I turned in early that night and enjoyed the smell of the pinewood rafters of our cozy cottage along the seacoast of Ocean Point. I knew that the next day would provide for further exploration and discovery.
East Boothbay Harbor has a fine view of Linekin Bay and the Damrascota River which almost come together at East Boothbay where you can visit a tidal dam with water flowing out or in depending on the tide..
© 2010 Richard Francis Fleck