For many folks, a birthday celebrated without cake is hard to imagine. But for Dawn Gauthier, director and owner of Ponderosa Playland, the only in-home child daycare facility located in St. George, birthdays and cake lost their inevitable association more than two years ago. That’s when she learned about the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program at a food education program held at the Penquis center in Rockland. The program involves a discipline of daily providing children with at least five fruits or vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour of active play and zero sugary drinks.
Gauthier is the first winner of Let’s Go! Knox County’s Redy Award, which honors “outstanding commitment, leadership and innovation” to the 5-2-1-0 program. “We don’t provide sugary treats ever,” Gauthier states bluntly, noting that she supplies her charges with a breakfast snack, lunch and afternoon snack five days a week. “It’s really not hard to do healthy celebrations or to feed kids healthy food daily.”
Gauthier has been focused on the well-being of the children in her care since high school. “I love kids! I think it began when my sister was born. She’s 15 years younger and I enjoyed being one of her caregivers. During high school I also worked for a daycare center.”
Twenty eight years later she’s still providing daycare services for children as young as four months and as old as 10. Eighteen years ago, when her second son was born, she began providing daycare in her home. “It was the easiest way to raise a family and keep working,” she explains.
Another reason an in-home daycare operation made sense was the home’s location. “I grew up in South Portland, but my grandparents lived here on 100 acres of land called the Ponderosa. I spent all my spare time here and in 1996 was able to put in this house across the drive from my grandparents. It’s a perfect location for childcare—we’re a good distance off the main (Wallston) road, which means we don’t have to be fenced in. Our kids have lots of places to explore.” She cites a frog pond and a field across from the house which is great for flying kites in summer or sledding in winter.
Gauthier gets valuable help in running her daycare center from teacher Beth Vanorse, who has a degree in early childhood education. In addition to basic caregiving tasks, the two carry out a pre-school education program each day. “I love being involved in each child’s early development,” Gauthier says.
Gauthier admits that as much as she enjoys her work, “no one chooses daycare because it’s easy. Five days a week working with kids all day is tough.” There are also the requirements that go along with maintaining her license to operate—these involve continuing education, trainings and meeting the state’s health and safety standards. The benefits of such requirements for the children, however, are enormous. Learning of the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program is a case in point.
“It’s just about awareness,” Gauthier says. The day she learned about the program at Penquis she stopped serving juice and began encouraging the children in her care to drink more water. “We spend a lot of time looking for healthy food choices. And we try to be as creative as we can about indoor active play when the temperature outside is below 20 degrees, preventing us from being able to take the kids outside.” Dance parties, yoga and having the children leap from activity mat to activity mat are some of the solutions Gauthier and Vanorse have devised for this winter problem. They also get useful ideas from Mailbox Magazine, a publication for teachers.
Gauthier says she’s pleased to have received the Redy Award for her participation in the Let’s Go! program, but notes that “We’re not doing it for the recognition. It’s just the right thing to do.” —JW
Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play. Let’s Go! is committed to changing environments and policies at childcare sites, schools, out-of-school programs, healthcare practices, workplaces and communities. The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and collaboration across health systems and community health coalitions contribute to the program’s success in Maine. Contact Adrienne Gallant at 207-921-8951 to learn more about Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0.
PHOTOS: Top, Pen Bay Healthcare; bottom, Julie Wortman
At the January 13 meeting of the St. George Business Alliance (SGBA), small business owner and former Maine state senator Chris Rector, who now serves as one of seven regional representatives for Senator Angus King, told the group’s members that how Maine addresses workforce development will be a key factor in whether the state thrives economically.
“The biggest challenge is the demographics,” he said. “We need younger workers, we need immigrants. Businesses considering moving to Maine look at our workforce and say, ‘Who will be available to work for us in 10 or 15 years?’ The graying of Maine is a big problem.”
Karen Brace of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce (of which the SGBA is now a member) seconded Rector’s comment, noting that a related issue frequently brought up by the Chamber’s members is the need for more housing that a younger workforce can afford.
Rector said his job is to be King’s “eyes and ears” in this region. “I regard spending time with a group like yours as an opportunity to open lines of communication.” In many ways, he said, a peninsula like St. George is like an island. “Each peninsula has its own characteristics of culture,” stressing the importance of recognizing such distinctions.
Although Rector spends much of his time traveling his assigned region, he has an office in Augusta at 4 Gabriel Drive and can be reached at 622-8292 or Chris_Rector@king.senate.gov.
The January SGBA meeting took place at The Point restaurant in Tenants Harbor, owned by owner/chef Jessica Beal. —JW
PHOTO: Diane Hall
Recently, at St. George School, we had a geography bee. The winner was 5th grade student Allison Gill and the runner-up was 5th grade student Anna Kingsbury.
The geography bee is for students in grades 4-8. The way you get into the school’s geography bee is that each grade has a classroom bee, and the two winners from each grade go to the school geography bee. Sometimes there is a tie so there may be more, but it’s usually 10-12 contestants in the final bee, which is held in the gym in front of the public. Geography teacher Mr. McPhail is the Bee Master.
This year, the winners of the classroom bees were: from 4th grade—Jack Elwell and Gregory Murry; from 5th grade—Anna Kingsbury, Audrey Leavitt and Alison Gill; from 6th grade—Sam Miller and Ethan Carballo; from 7th grade—Greta Carlson and Connor Adams; and from 8th grade, (Alt. Ed.), Lucien Marriner.
We asked Mr. McPhail, our social studies teacher and the master of the classroom and school bees, what the school’s highest achievements were in the state bee. He said, “Our highest placement was fourth in the state. We’ve had at least 10 qualify for the state bee. The state bee questions are very difficult!”
Good luck to Allison Gill, who will now take a test to see if she qualifies for the state bee.
—Sophia Campbell (Campbell is a 7th grade student at the St. George School.)
PHOTO: Alison England
At St. George School, the town’s recreation department offers basketball for grades K-6, adult basketball, and skiing for all ages. According to Mr. Vail, the town’s Recreation Director, community members volunteer to supervise adult basketball, coach and referee basketball for young people and keep the book and clock at games. We also have volunteers who are in charge of tickets at the Camden Snow Bowl.
K-2 basketball runs for four Saturdays in January. They generally have 20 boys and girls attend each week. Grade 3-4 basketball runs from December to the first of February. They play in a league with Thomaston and Cushing. This year we had 11 boys and 12 girls.
In addition to what the town recreation league offers, we have school teams for the older kids. We have one girls’ 7th grade basketball team, and one boys’ 7th grade team. The coach for the girls’ team was Brittany Anthony, and the coach for the boys team was Dave Banda. Karizma Chickering, Sadie Davis, Josie Mathiau, and Chloe Simmons were the four players from St. George on the girls’ team, and the rest were from Thomaston. Hunter Hoppe, Jake Paulsen, Drew Minery, Aaron Benner, Cameron Kingsbury, Jonah Carlson, and Hunter Yattaw were the players from St. George on the boys’ team, and the rest were from Thomaston.
The boys had 6 wins and 6 losses in the regular season, and 1 win and 1 loss in playoffs. The girls had 3 wins, and 9 losses in the regular season, and 1 loss in the playoffs.
The highlights of the season for the boys were that, in the first game against Camden, Drew Minery had 5 three-pointers, one to take the lead with about 10 seconds left and in a game against Rockland Hunter Hoppe was the second highest scorer. In addition, Aaron Benner scored 18 points in a game, and Cameron Kingsbury scored 27 points in a game.
According to Coach Brittany Anthony, the highlights for the girls were: “Winning against Oceanside Blue for our first win of the season! Chloe Simmons being our top scorer with 155 points, and Lindsey Brooks being top foul shooter with 63 percent at the foul line!”
For non-team sports at St. George, there is also a special “Ski-For-Free” program for St. George fourth graders happening now at the Camden Snow Bowl on Wednesdays for four weeks. It is for all fourth graders in Knox County. It’s free! They can learn to ski or snowboard. They had their first trip up there on February 4 and it was a great success. We’ve also had Learn-to-Skate opportunities at the Mid-Coast Recreation Center in Rockport, and we hope to have many more individual and group winter activities at St. George School in the future.
—Chloe Simmons (Simmons is a 7th grade student at the St. George School.)
PHOTO: Shasta Minery
During this time of deep winter and deep snow I have been thinking about butterflies and how to attract them to my gardens. What a delight to imagine those colorful denizens of the garden when all is white and grey and cold outside. Just reading though a list of butterflies likely to show up in Maine is a fun fantasy: Rear Admirals, Monarchs, Painted Fritillaries, Spread-Wing Skippers, Eastern Commas, Painted Ladies, American Snouts, Viceroys. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by some of these visitors?
A Viceroy, for instance, according to those who delight in researching and studying these creatures, prefers willows and poplars as hosts, and feeds on the nectar of some of the later season flowers such as Asters, Goldenrod, Joe Pye Weed, and Canadian Thistle. There’s your plant list in a nutshell! Really, it’s a list of what abounds in the fields and woodland edges all around us. The list also points out that attracting butterflies is more complex than just planting a few plants that they like for nectar here and there. The larger issue is one of habitat, of assuring that there are plenty of fields and woodlands, large tracts of marshy areas and wild places, clean and unpolluted. That is probably the best thing we can do to attract butterflies.
But what about doing something around the house and in the garden to entice some of these visitors in from the wild fields? There are some great lists out there of which plants that specific butterflies prefer as nectar and which plants they choose as hosts, that is, which plants they like to lay their eggs on so that the emerging caterpillar will have an immediate source of food.
Nectar plants, for example, are easy. We already have many of them in our gardens, and likely if a butterfly doesn’t care for a flower, a bee or other pollinator will. Many of the nectar plants have compound flowers, which are flowers made up of clusters of smaller florets into which these insects can fit their little proboscis (feeding straw). Some favorites are Joe Pye Weed, Milkweed, Butterfly Bush, Queen Anne’s Lace, Dill, Fennel and Oregano. Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra) is a late-season blooming shrub that is usually alive with Fritillaries. One thing I did learn researching this topic is that butterflies have fairly poor eyesight, so planting large masses of the same flower, rather than singly or interspersing types of plants, helps attract them.
Providing host plants, I think, is more difficult for most of us because the nature of being a host is that emerging caterpillars will nibble on leaves and stems, leaving things a bit ragged. A Monarch caterpillar, for instance, will strip a member of the Milkweed family bare. The trade-off is a lovely striped caterpillar that will become one of the endangered Monarchs headed from Maine to Mexico for the winter.
So despite the snow I’m thinking of spring, with visions of Fritillaires, Viceroys and Monarchs filling my head. And I’m making plans. With any luck, filling my gardens this coming season with the nectar and host plants I know these colorful and intriguing insects prefer will add a delightful dimension to my gardens—and make at least a small contribution to helping these helpful pollinators survive and thrive.
—Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)
PHOTO: Anne Cox
My late husband, Geo, was very fond of a good slab of corned beef. An adventurous cook, he enjoyed making anything from scratch. Years ago, he ran across instructions in a newspaper for corning beef and immediately adapted the recipe. The beef stays submerged in the brine for many days, and needs to be “agitated” daily. He kept the brine pot in his beer refrigerator and made it a point to give it a poke every time he got a beer. Thus, it was “agitated” quite often. —BTW
The brining of it
7 quarts water
3 C kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
6-9 lbs brisket, top or bottom round.
(Several small briskets can be brined together.)
In a large stockpot or lobster pot, stir seasonings into the water until the salt dissolves. Add the beef, cover and refrigerate pot for 7-10 days, stirring daily.
The cooking of it
Rinse the beef well, place in a clean pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, and simmer about 15 minutes.
Remove beef, drain pot and add beef and fresh water to cover generously. Add:
1 medium onion, sliced
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 – 3 hours, until meat is tender (depending on size).
Note: Geo liked his corned beef with lots of flavor. He omitted the first simmer, and simply rinsed the beef and cooked it as directed.
Extra brined briskets can be frozen for later use.
Geoff Bladon still recalls the impact of a black-and-white film about the famous Canadian painter A.Y. Jackson that he watched in sixth grade. “I was bowled over,” the Montreal native says. “Although I had been making drawings from early childhood and had been taking art classes on Saturdays at the local recreation center, it had never occurred to me that a person could make a life as a painter. I can still see the scenes of Jackson canoeing and hiking in the wilderness and then setting up an easel and painting the natural world around him. I thought it would be a great life.”
As it turned out, Bladon’s father had other ideas for his son. “Father discouraged any serious pursuit of art as an occupation, which was understandable,” Bladon says with a wry smile. “So I went to college in Manitoba and then I went to law school, which I’m glad I did, but all the time I continued drawing, sometimes for student newspapers.”
Over the course of 15 years practicing law in London, Ontario, then five years serving as a criminal court judge in the Yukon and finally joining the Faculty of Law at the University of New Bunswick in Fredericton, Bladon continued drawing and, eventually, painting in oils. A.Y. Jackson’s impressionistic, plein air work also continued to be a source of inspiration.
“Being outside and painting is a real rush,” he says. Another rush, he adds, comes from reveling in the environs of St. George, where he and his wife Daila bought a home in 1995. Bladon’s connection with Maine is longstanding. “As an anglophone adult living in Montreal, my grandmother ‘summered’ in Kennebunk Beach staying at the Narragansett Inn. My father would accompany her as a boy,” he says, adding, “Francophone Montrealers went to Old Orchard Beach.” Bladon’s father started bringing Geoff to Maine when Geoff was about 7 years old.
“Maine has always been a draw for me,” Bladon says. “Part of our decision to take the job in Fredericton in 1987 was so that we could be close to Maine.” The couple travelled to the midcoast area in particular, once staying in a B&B in Camden and then, in 1993 renting a house in Port Clyde from Cindy Lang for the month of May. “That was the beginning of the end,” Bladon laughs. They returned to Port Clyde the following year, all the time taking note of properties that were for sale. In 1995 they bought a small house on Main Street in Tenants Harbor next to the marsh. The couple now divides their time between St. George and Fredericton, where Bladon continues to work part-time doing labor adjudication work.
“Like a lot of us who have picked St. George to live, we really enjoy what we have here—I love this place. It is a wonderfully different and unique area. It is nothing like Camden or Rockland or Belfast or Boothbay or even Friendship. The indigenous architecture and the landscape itself is what makes it different. In my paintings I try to offer a celebration of this area.”
The range of images in Bladon’s current show at the Jackson Memorial Library testifies to this commitment. From the farm buildings at Harjula’s (as seen from the little cemetery on Westbrook), to the Apple House in Wiley’s Corner, the Tenants Harbor Boatyard and Drift Inn Beach, Bladon makes clear that the beauty he finds on the peninsula and in the surrounding area is very specific in terms of season, time and place. While he has not painted every scene outdoors—larger paintings are difficult to complete in the two or so hours before the light changes—for the mood and sense of place and light, Bladon always relies on first-hand sketches. Photos provide factual information when needed. “Sometimes I need to double check things like the number of windows on a facade,” he explains.
Bladon admits that it is “a source of validation” when someone likes one of his paintings well enough to buy it. And getting juried into a show provides a similar satisfaction. But Bladon says getting that kind of support is not why he paints. “The actual doing of the painting is what makes the blood flow,” he emphasizes. “And what keeps you at it is that you never get it right, not fully. The painting that is in your head is not what comes out. There are keepers and then paintings that are not.”
The important thing, too, he clearly believes, is that while he has not, like his hero A.Y. Jackson, earned a living as a painter, he has, like Jackson, made painting a life.
Bladon is represented by Tidemark Gallery in Waldoboro and Gallery 78 in New Brunswick. Bladon’s show at the Jackson Memorial Library runs through February. Also part of the exhibit is the work of Charlene Vanderslice, paintings that are inspired by the marine realm and dedicated to saving the oceans. —JW
PHOTO: Julie Wortman
At St. George School, we have a community meeting every month. Each month, a different class runs the community meeting. Different classes show what they’re learning, and the older kids, such as ourselves, talk about what’s going on in our school. We all sit in a big circle around the gym floor to show that together, we’re a whole. The purpose of community meetings is that we come together as a school and celebrate the achievements of others.
One important tradition we have at St. George is that we sing our school song at every community meeting. Sometimes, the middle level band plays while the rest of the students and teachers sing the song. Our school song was written by Robert Jean, a teacher at our school. He wrote the song with his second grade class, (which is now the present eighth grade class at Oceanside West.)
We asked Mr. Jean how he came up with our school song. He said, “I was driving in my car and I remembered that Mr. Bernard, (our former guidance counselor) wanted to come up with a school song. I knew the tune from other school songs, and I just started putting words to it! My second grade class helped, but I came up with most of the lyrics. None of the words have changed since then. I also wrote a second verse, but we decided to only use the first one.”
We also asked him what his experience was like the first time they sang the song at a community meeting. “It was awesome! I didn’t know if the kids were going to sing loud enough, or if anyone would like the song. After, when we went back to our classroom, Mr. Schooley (our former principal,) came in and told us how much he liked it!”
St. George School Song:
There is a school in Tenants Harbor
In our hearts so dear.
Community, respect and honor,
Targets that are clear.
Students, parents, teachers, friends
Working side by side.
Give a cheer for dear old St. George
Show your dragon pride!
If you would like to attend a community meeting at our school, you can call the office to find out when the next one is or read the weekly newsletter to find out.
—Chloe Simmons and Sophia Campbell (Simmons and Campbell are 7th grade students at the St. George School.)
Student council members presented a check for $170.72 made out to the American Heart Association at a St. George School community meeting day in February 2014. Under the leadership of school nurse Autumn Miller, the students made paper hearts, which they sold for $1 and students and staff then wrote ways to keep their heart healthy on them. The hearts were hung on both sides of the walls of the school’s long hallway. The students also sold Heart Association dress pins. At the community meeting, the members of the student council urged their fellow students “to love your hearts by being physically active, eating healthy foods and being educated about heart disease and its risk factors.” They noted that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.
PHOTO: Sonja Schmanska