Category Archives: August 14

Blueberry Cove Camp: a vital philosophy in action

bbc circleSMBlueberry Cove Camp has been working magic with kids for several generations.

It’s not really magic. It’s just a word that covers for a very vital philosophy in action that nurtures children to be inquisitive, cooperative learners—and to share the joy of feeling good about themselves. And it occurs in one of the loveliest places, Harts Neck on Tenants Harbor.

My teacher-parents were close friends of founders Bess and Henry Haskell, so I grew up seeing a lot of them and absorbing their influence. The camp started in 1949 on 30 waterfront acres on Harts Neck. The main lodge is built on the foundation of a farmhouse that burned. Blueberry Cove may have been the first interracial camp in Maine, and for local residents that was new and not always comfortable. But local people worked there, and some sent their kids to camp. Tim Watts, who later resurrected the East Wind Inn, was kitchen czar. Scott Davis, son of lobsterman Syd Davis and nurse Mary Davis, was a happy camper. Both grew up on Harts Neck.

Years ago I was pleased to recruit Native American Mainers to the camp, perhaps the only ones among us who can say they are not from away.

After the Haskells’ long tenure as directors, Ann Goldsmith took over the camp, having worked there for decades. Initially, her co-directors were camp veterans Ed Badeaux and Bob Hellerson. The camp went through various changes, serving as a summer artists’ workshop, a women’s carpentry program, a healing camp for families affected by AIDS. The regular children’s camp ceased operation in 1985.

Then, almost 10 years ago, Long Cove resident Les Hyde and others set out to revive the camp. Les had founded the Tanglewood 4H Camp and Learning Center in Lincolnville in 1982. In 2005 that camp’s board voted unanimously to purchase the camp from Ann Goldsmith, who now lives next door in a house my brother Paul designed and built. In this way, the camp was saved from possible development.

exploring shore-BBC SMBlueberry Cove, leased from the board by The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, now offers day camp as well as weekly residential programs. Campers still hike to nearby Roaring Spout, and swim at Drift Inn Beach. I miss the old eight-week sessions, where kids truly came to feel the camp as a home. I miss the swims at Martinsville Beach. But then, I miss my youth, too.

The magic of Blueberry Cove is a big part of my life, first as a wanna-be, a gawky kid bicycling over to camp to hang around other kids. It was exciting to be included and it sowed the seed of a life-long affinity for me. I couldn’t wait to work as a counselor, teaching sailing and swimming in the chilly harbor, but mostly learning all kinds of things about the natural world, about living in a small, warm community. I also learned something about myself, and saw that happening all around me.

Being a counselor at 16 was a coming-of-age experience, from camping trips to High Island and Mount Katahdin, to sitting around the big stone fireplace with guitar, banjo and good companions.  I fell in love at least once.

My several summers working at Blueberry Cove instilled a love of community, spontaneity and the importance of a peaceful environment for the well being of all living things, kids included. Eating from the garden, sea and shore, it seems the camp was onto sustainable living long ago. No radios or other alienating devices; we invented our own games, projects, stories. My brother Paul, a counselor, made a cement boat with campers. It made a few trips before settling into the mud. Muddling was a popular activity on a warm day. You’d put on a swimsuit and go cover yourself in mud, looking like a bronze sculpture, then rinse off. Grown-ups pay big money for this kind of spa treatment.

We counselors often had as much fun as campers, taking a night dip in Wildcat Quarry (now known as Atwood’s), a post-camp sail to Bar Island where I won’t tell you what we did. I remain friends with former counselors, and a few campers. One of those is Iris, an autistic child who blossomed into a healthy young woman through her camp experience.

In 1980, Kathy and I got married at Blueberry Cove, with Henry and Bess among the guests, and there have been many weddings there since. There have also been memorials to people in the Blueberry Cove family, usually including a circle by the fireplace and memories.

A circle, symbol of unity and continuity, was traditionally part of each day as counselors and campers gathered for council, deciding on activities and hearing any announcements. Before breakfast and chores, musician and co-director Ed Badeaux would stroll from tent to tent with a homemade wake-up song. Sometimes the bunkmates would sing along.

Today the tents are gone, replaced by restored cabins. Kids no longer go barefoot and counselors can’t drink beer on camp property after the campers fall asleep. Some changes are good, some perhaps not as good, but the strong spirit of the camp, and the sense of sustaining and enriching young lives, lives on.

That’s what counts. New director Ryan LeShane and his staff invite you to come by and get to know us. Visitors are very welcome.

Steve Cartwright is vice president of Blueberry Cove-Tanglewood’s board, and race director for the Blueberry Cove 13.1, which this year is set for August 24. He has a Harts Neck home a hop-skip away from the camp.

PHOTOS: Steve Cartwright

Tenants Harbor Poetry Reading: 18 Years and Counting

Regular participants in the annual Tenants Harbor Poetry Reading. L-R: Jonathan Aldrich, Chris Fahy, Mary Burchenal, David Riley, Elizabeth Gordon McKim, and guitarist Stuart Bicknell.

Regular participants in the annual Tenants Harbor Poetry Reading. L-R: Jonathan Aldrich, Chris Fahy, Mary Burchenal, David Riley, Elizabeth Gordon McKim, and guitarist Stuart Bicknell.

By David Riley
When a hundred people show up year after year for our annual Tenants Harbor Poetry Reading (now in its 18th year), it’s pretty gratifying to look out and see them enjoying–in August, no less–a form of literature that has long been declared to be on its last legs.

A show of hands has revealed that many, if not most, of our listeners don’t read poetry regularly, and rarely attend poetry readings, which makes us a kind of band of ambassadors for poetry, a role we’re honored and delighted to fulfill.  Our small part in unleashing poetry onto our prose-laden world every year includes each of us reading a poem by someone other than ourselves, usually a recognized name in poetry.

Part of the appeal of our readings is the variety of voices we offer: If our listeners aren’t particularly drawn to one person’s style, they might like another’s. What we have in common is spending extended time enjoying and being inspired by the beauty and charm of Tenants Harbor and midcoast Maine.

The five of us who have read regularly over the years are Jonathan Aldrich, who often writes about his vivid memories of spending 70-plus summers on Harts Neck in Tenants Harbor; Mary Burchenal, whose poems include poignant insights into teaching high school English; Chris Fahy, who takes a wry look at coming of age as a teenager and aging as an adult; Elizabeth Gordon McKim, whose rhythmic readings sometimes include strumming a musical instrument and veering into singing; and myself, reading poems that often attempt to convey the magic of the tidal cove that we’re privileged to witness up close and personal.

We began in late August, 1997, when about 25 people came to the old Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor to hear Jonathan, Elizabeth, and myself. We soon added two other longtime Tenants Harbor denizens: Stuart Bicknell, who plays the guitar as an interlude between each reader, and Mary, who read with us every other year, and recently decided to bow out to allow for a more extended summer break from the rigors of high school teaching.

As the word spread and our audiences increased, we outgrew the friendly confines of the library, and moved to the Ocean View Grange in Martinsville in 2002 when Chris Fahy joined us, and in our tenth year, to the Odd Fellows Hall, where we have met ever since. We’ve been lucky to have gracious hosts in all three locations. Last year we began including guest readers, to enliven the mix and broaden our base in hopes that others will come forward to help organize the reading after our 20th year in 2016.

We have published two small, paperback collections of our work, Summer Lines, on our 10th year in 2006, and Branching Out, on our 15th year in 2011, which are for sale at our reading and in stores in Tenants Harbor, Port Clyde, Rockland, and Portland. They have been favorably reviewed in the Free Press, Portland Phoenix, and Bangor Daily News, whose critic described them as good books “to freshen your routines and keep on the coffee table. For actual reading, I mean, not for show.”

As one listener commented after a reading, “I’m exhausted! I feel as though I’ve been through the full gamut of emotions, from laughter to tears.” Just the kind of intensity that we strive for, and that poetry offers us all!

This year’s reading is Friday, August 15, at the Odd Fellows Hall on Watts Avenue in Tenants Harbor, beginning with refreshments and book selling, with the reading beginning at 5:30pm. Admission is free. We welcome donations to defray the expenses of using the hall and providing refreshments.

Eureka Lodge No. 84

Masonic Hall photoSMThe first home of Eureka Lodge No. 84, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was a store owned by Frederic O. Martin on the shore of Mosquito Harbor in Martinsville, a location thought at the time to be “most inconveniently situated and ill-adapted to the purpose.” But it was the only meeting place the group could find. The first meeting took place on August 6, 1855 and the Lodge continued meeting there until 1860, when a new space was found on the third floor of the John M. Fuller Building (later the East Wind Inn) in Tenants Harbor. This remained the home of the Eureka Lodge for 33 years.

In 1893 the Lodge bought a lot on Watts Avenue from Captain Joseph Watts and a new hall was built. It was dedicated on February 17, 1894.

In 1902 a tower was constructed on the front corner of the building. The cement steps and platform on the front of the building were added in 1921.

In his history of Eureka Lodge No. 84 compiled as part of the celebration of the Lodge’s 125th Anniversary in 1981, Wallace M. Gage helpfully provided the following historical context for Freemasonry in St. George:

“Freemasonry is a very old society, just how old, no one really knows. We can trace its evolution at least as far back as the mid-14th century to the London Mason’s Company, the first trade guild of British operative masons. The earliest written records date to about 1390 AD, but beyond that, only legend.

“These Masonic forebears of ours were builders, but they were not only hewers of stone and raisers of walls, but also architects, designers and engineers. They developed and perfected the Gothic school of architecture, and many of their beautiful cathedrals still stand in Europe and England, monuments to their skill in the builders’ arts and sciences.

“The earliest Masonic lodges were groups of these craftsmen who had been assembled to work on these structures, which required many years to complete. They worked and lived with their families on the site, until work was finished. The early Masonic Hall or Temple was often a sort of ‘lean-to’ type of temporary structure built against the wall of the building under construction, and in which they ate, worked and conducted their business.

“Early in the 17th century, a practice sprung up in some of the Mason’s lodges, of accepting into their society, members of the nobility or distinguished members of the community. With the Protestant reformation, cathedral building declined to a great extent. The honorary or ‘accepted’ masons gradually became more numerous as the number of operative masons grew smaller. Over the years, the old operative masonry evolved from an association of builders into the moral and philosophical fraternity we call ‘speculative’ masonry today. It still uses the working tools and follows many of the customs and practices of the builders, but in a symbolic sense.

“In 1717, four old masons’ lodges in London met and formed the first Grand lodge, and in doing so, laid the groundwork for the type of organization in use to this day. 1717 is generally considered to be the point at which masonry became speculative in nature.

“In the years that followed, Masonry’s popularity grew, and many new lodges were chartered. Grand Lodges were formed in Scotland and Ireland, and a second one in England. As might be expected, Masonry spread to the American colonies. Masons from the old countries migrated there, and a practice followed by the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland, of chartering lodges in regiments of the British army, helped to bring Masonry to America as these regiments were brought over for extended service in the colonies.

“The Grand Lodge of England established a Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston in 1733, which proceeded to charter a number of lodges in the New England colonies. One of these was at Falmouth in the District of Maine, which is now Portland Lodge No. 1, chartered in 1769. Scotland later established a Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston, from which Warren Lodge No. 2 of Machias received its charter in 1778.

“The Revolutionary War brought about the establishment of independent Grand Lodges in the American States. Maine, then being a District of Massachusetts, became a part of that Grand Lodge. In the years following the close of the War, numerous lodges were formed, and by 1820 when Maine became a separate State, there were 31 lodges within its boundaries.

“These lodges met and formed the Grand Lodge of Maine in 1820, and elected Governor William King as its first Grand Master. For the next few years, it prospered greatly, chartering 27 new lodges by 1828.

“Then came the so-called ‘Morgan Affair’ in which one William Morgan disappeared from Batavia, New York and was claimed by those opposed to Masonry, to have been murdered by the Masons for revealing its secrets. Manipulated by politicians, it caused a widespread anti-masonic hysteria which dealt Masonry a blow from which it did not recover for years. Persecution of Masons was the rule of the day, and Maine Masons suffered along with those of sister jurisdictions. It was not until the mid-1840s that the furor died down and Masonry could resume its progress.

“Maine was able to make up for the bad years however, and between 1848 and 1859, thirty eight new lodges were chartered, and we find Eureka No. 84 among six which received their charters in 1856.”
— Information taken from Fish, Ships and Quarry Chips, Being An Account of the Life and Times of Eureka Lodge No. 84 1856-1981 by Wallace M. Gage, 1981.

PHOTO: This photograph is from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. Collection from the photography archives at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine. PMM’s photography collection consists of more than 140,000 photographic images from all over Maine, New England and beyond. More than 60,000 photos are available in PMM’s online database with more being added each week. Fine art prints are available. Visit today.

Clematis: Heads in sun, feet in shade


Clematis climbing the coop

I love clematis, but have not really grown many of these vining plants. I probably have refrained from growing them after I planted a number at the base of several small shrubs and trees, anticipating surprise flowers showing up in the leaves of the plants as the clematis crept up into their branches. That summer I was thwarted by an enthusiastic garden helper who pulled out these unusual vines that were threatening the shrubs. Disappointed, I sulked and moved on but shied away from more clematis.

But last summer a lovely mature clematis came to live on the corner of our chicken coop. I actually transplanted the vine, which had tremendously vigorous roots, in mid-June, which seemed a bit late. But the plant didn’t seem to mind much as by August I had lovely purple flowers all the way to the top of the coop. I think this is a Jackmanii clematis, but I’m not enough of a clematis curator to know.

Clematis vines always look like dead, improbable sticks in the winter. Usually, though, their buds start to show and they sprout and flourish in quick order. This particular vine showed no signs of life at all this spring, for a very long time. Very long. But then it was a hard winter. So I cut it to the ground, scratched in some organic fertilizer, and top dressed the area with good compost. And hoped. Nothing for the longest time. And then a few shoots. The plant is now back up, close to eight feet tall, covering the corner of the chicken coop, ready for an August show. And subsequent research into proper clematis care revealed that I did exactly the right thing. Who knew?

I was so excited by this purple clematis last year that I ordered some Clematis tangutica seeds, and started seedlings in the greenhouse this winter. The tangutica has little yellow flowers that I thought would look fantastic dancing around the big purple ones. Well this little, very delicate vine, that was a seed in February, is now about six feet tall and mixing with the purple one. There were a few tiny yellow bell-shaped flowers earlier, so I am hopeful that in time I’ll have the extravagant show I am hoping for.

The one rule of thumb I always remember about growing clematis is that they like their heads in the sun, but their feet in the shade. That one is sometimes easy to accomplish by planting something like iris right at their base, to give them some shade. And then there are all sorts of tips as to which sort likes to be pruned when and where. The “rules” and the categories into which each sort of clematis falls get a bit confusing, but they have to do with whether a particular plant blooms on new growth, the previous year’s growth or on both. I was happy to read a reminder that all clematis will bloom whether they are pruned or not, they just might not be as abundant in their display. That’s a relief.

The other confusing thing about clematis is just how to say it. I grew up with CLEM-uh-tis. But eventually I heard clem-AT-tis. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, CLEM-uh-tis is the correct pronunciation, but the Merriam-Webster Dictionary says both CLEM-uh-tis and clem-AT-tis are acceptable (though CLEM-uh-tis is listed first, which means it is preferred).
—Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville)

PHOTO: Anne Cox