Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Solid Ground ~ Random Memory #29 ~ Maine

My earliest memories of Maine are of my grandparents' house in Falmouth. It was a lovingly restored colonial, white clapboard with black shutters and a newer three season addition we called the breezeway. An old barn served as the garage for their ancient black car. At various times there was a horse, chickens and ducks...and everywhere you looked, my grandmother's glorious gardens. I ran through the asparagus patch with its feathery fronds tickling my face and climbed over rocks taking care not to step on the fleshy green hens and chicks Nana so lovingly cultivated. Concord grapes grew riotously over stone walls, the fruit deepening into dusty purple in autumn. My grandparents also had a parcel of land across the road. My favorite place in that sweet meadow was the sagging chicken coop which was home to dozens of wasp nests. I still remember the insect's persistent hum while I sat on the pitched roof and there were many trips back to my grandmother's kitchen to apply a paste of baking soda for the inevitable stings. Like so many Maine meadows, a path had been mowed through the wildflowers. Beyond the path a cherry orchard yielded mid-day treats, even with stiff competition from hungry birds. A tangle of chokecherries lay behind the trees which I loved to eat just for the pithy puckered feeling they left in my mouth.

It was a place where I could run wild. I discovered Indian Pipes in the dim woods, varieties of ferns and moss covered rocks. My footsteps were silent on the thick carpet of pine needles. The magic lasted until I approached my teens when other interests took priority. By then my grandmother had been a widow for twelve years and eventually the house and land were sold. I never saw it again until Peter and I drove up to Maine shortly after we were married. At first I despaired of finding the house. The old landmarks were gone as was the meadow. A crowded development is now where the chicken coop and orchard used to be and the house is hidden behind a tall stockade style fence. Perhaps, by now, those changes have given way to even newer structures. It's not far, I could go back any time to look again, but I haven't. Sometimes it's better to leave memories undisturbed.

Here in the present, Flickr friend, Karen Mallonee and her family have established strong roots in a wooded wonderland in the western Maryland mountains. Karen's love for this unspoiled country began when she and her twin sister spent happy summers in the green woods that used to be Camp Minnetoska.

Minnetoska - star light, star bright

In time, the camp closed as so many often do, and the land was divided into parcels. Karen and her family quickly purchased six and a half acres. Karen writes:

No house, just woods (including 1/2 acre hemlock grove), ferns, rocks and streams. We have a nice area set up for camping. It's our little "State Park".

Minnetoska - our piece of paradise

our pretty little stream

Minnetoska ~ lay of the land


Karen has a busy rewarding career, but she and her family make time to return to Minnetoska whenever they can. The beauty and serenity of the land provide inspiration for her photography long after summer has ended and the laughter around the campfire is hushed; and the only sounds are the rustle of wildlife, wind through the trees and the melodic burble of water on stone.

All five photos above are the work and property of Karen Mallonee, Karma/(Karen)'s on Flickr, who has kindly given permission to use the images in this post.

Our ties to Mere Point are similar to the pull of Karen's Minnetoska. It was there that I visited my aunt and uncle, often making the trip from Falmouth with my grandmother in the aforementioned old black car. Much later, we bought a nearby cottage on the western side of the point. We had two small children whose world had been rocked by the revolution in Iran. Friendships with Mere Point cottagers and the changeable beauty of the bay and surroundings helped us all to stand on solid ground again.

Nancy Drew and a fairy wand

The Perfect Day


Maquoit Bay Light 06

Decades of summers have come and gone. My children are grown and a new generation has embraced the little cottage by the shore. it is firmly lodged in their hearts just as my grandparents' meadow is for me. Although I can't go back to that vanished meadow, it is still very real in my memories. There is no sadness, I know full well these places are only temporarily in our care. A line from Dolores Keane's haunting song, Solid Ground, comes to mind...

You cannot own the land, the land owns you.


  1. Replies
    1. Barbara ~ Thank you! I'm afraid I have neglected this blog, and my friends way too long...

  2. A lovely place I can see in the pics.
    But a very interesting foot note (and I fully agree with it) that, we cannot own the land, the land owns us.

  3. de engineur ~ I appreciated your sensitivity to this delicate place we call earth from the moment I first saw your blog. Thank you for your comment!


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