Category Archives: November 21

Two new preserves to enjoy

Those present for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Meadowbrook Preserve to the public on November 10 got a chance to walk the 0.7-mile trail and enjoy the scenic views of forest and marshland it affords.

by Amanda Devine

There are two new preserves in town that help advance not just conservation on the St. George peninsula, protecting important habitat as well as scenic views, but also offer new opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers, dog walkers, hunters, students and educators, or anyone simply looking for a quiet place to connect with the natural world. Working together, the Town of St. George, the Georges River Land Trust, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) put together their resources and expertise to create these opportunities for the community.

The Bamford Preserve on Long Cove has been several years in the making. In June of 2015, MCHT, which also owns High Island in Tenants Harbor, took ownership of 36 acres on both sides of Long Cove Road. The land had been owned by the Bamford family for multiple generations, and no one in the family wanted to see it developed.  With funding from the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program and through a generous bargain sale from the former owners, MCHT was able to permanently conserve the preserve’s diverse forests, wetlands, and shorefront.

Creating public access was another story, however. In 2017, the Town of St. George transferred a small but significant adjacent parcel to MCHT. This quarter-acre lot with frontage on Long Cove Road was home to the so-called “Woodcrafter’s Building,” which underwent several incarnations before falling into disrepair. The town came into possession of the land through tax delinquency, and when MCHT acquired the Bamford lands, it seemed a natural fit for this property to serve as a future trailhead.  Working with George C. Hall the following year, the MCHT demolished the building (already partially collapsed thanks to snow-loading and neglect), cleaned up the site, and in early 2019 created a four-car parking area with funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. MCHT staff and local volunteers have since planted the old building footprint in a mix of native shrubs and trees, hoping to improve the view as well as create better bird and pollinator habitat. They also revamped an old woods road into a 0.3-mile trail to the shore where a few (well, more than a few) hours spent with chainsaws, clearing saws, and a brush-hog have turned an overgrown tangle of invasive plants and wild apple trees into a welcoming meadow complete with a picnic table and shore access.  MCHT staff especially recommend visiting in mid-September, when the blackberries are ripe and the mosquitoes a little less fierce. MCHT welcomes St. George and especially Long Cove residents to enjoy this new neighborhood preserve. It’s a great place for an easy but highly scenic walk.

On the other side of town is another new preserve, this one owned by the Town of St. George. The Meadow Brook Preserve consists of 22 acres of highly scenic forest and marshland on the southeastern side of Turkey Cove Road, just west of the Transfer Station. Thanks to the efforts of the St. George Conservation Commission and the Georges River Land Trust—and with funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and matching town funds—there is now a three-car parking area and a 0.7-mile trail that leads hikers through the woods and to the brook for which the preserve is named.

MCHT originally acquired this property with funding from the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program and then deeded it to the town. To ensure its permanent conservation, the Georges River Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the land, and also assists the town with management. Over the past year the St. George Conservation Commission met with abutters and local school teachers to solicit their input as to the preserve’s development. After many exploratory walks covering all seasons a final trail route was determined. This past summer and early fall Conservation Commission members, Georges River Land Trust staff and dedicated volunteers completed work on the trail construction. This included determining the final path, clearing brush and downed trees along the path and painting blazes along the trail. The kiosk was also constructed and installed.

The Town of St. George, MCHT, and the Georges River Land Trust welcome you to explore these special places. In the spirit of “leave no trace,” please be prepared to carry out all waste (including pet waste) when visiting the properties, keep pets under control, share the trail, and don’t forget your bug spray from early summer through fall.

(Devine is a Regional Stewardship Manager at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.)

PHOTO: Dan Verillo

November poems

November
The trees stand still
As dead as sticks
Their bark is pale and grey
No leaves are left on their limbs after the cold winds before
Lifeless for now
Waiting for Spring to come

The geese fly high
Their white bellies and black beaks are all that you can see
They honk and they go
Yelling at each other
Above the wind
Screaming out directions
Leaving the cold behind

The ground is crisp with crumbling brown leaves
Everything is covered with prickly white frost
As cold as death
It freezes your feet
Yet it melts in your hands

The sun is dimming
The air is cold
Not a sound in the air
Not a color in the world
November is here

—Anya Felton

November haiku
November is a
Bridge to a different world
From brightness to bleak

—Natalie Gill

November
Leaves are gone
But some are still
Bold colors
Multi-colored grass
Thin jackets
Pink cheeks
Chilly breeze
Hair blowing in the wind
Cloudy skies
The thought of rain
The idea of snow

—Caroline Matthews

November
The trees are losing their leaves
And the birds are leaving their nests
Once they arrive in the south
They will have earned a long rest
The trees are tired
Fall makes them grow old
As the days get shorter
And the wind gets cold
As winter comes closer
The trees say good bye
And then say good night
Before going to sleep
In their blanket of white.

— Julian Davis

The poets are in the 7th grade at St. George School.

The nature never stopped

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

It’s been an interesting stretch of weather this fall. Rains, winds and snow(!) have been creating havoc for outdoor-work schedules (namely mine) and gave the St. George School students two of the warmest “snow” days I’ve ever heard of.

A silver lining that came with these weather events was the local deciduous trees—maples, oaks, birches, etc.—losing their leaves. Seemingly overnight, trees that had been loaded with yellows, reds and oranges quickly became bare, with fully exposed trunks. These “dropping-of-the-leaves” events made the world a little safer, however, as the pretty colors can be distracting to humans at times when they should be focused—like when driving. It’s also now a bit easier to scan the forest canopy for owls and other critters as things aren’t so cluttered up there. But the biggest bonus of this year’s dramatic leaf dropping has probably been the unveiling of the Winterberry.

Local Winterberry shrubs (Ilex verticillate) have spent most of 2019 quietly doing “natural things”—like growing and losing their small three-inch leaves and producing an impressive amount of tiny white flowers. But once surrounding trees and shrubs lost their leaves this fall it became close to impossible not to notice the loaded, red fruits of the Winterberry shrubs lining Route 131 at stretches. It’s a “Winterberry fall”—my favorite season to travel that road.

A shrub in the Holly family (Aquifoliaceae), Winterberry is creatively named for its bright red fruits and for the season into which said berries frequently remain on the plant. And while the Winterberry flowers are pollinated each spring, it’s not every year that the shrubs are covered and almost screaming with red berries. There are Winterberries every fall, but not every fall is a “Winterberry fall.”

How many migrating songbirds and overwintering corvids will tap into this fruity resource, fueling wings and life in an effort to sustain the never ending quest for nourishment? How many raccoons will plop themselves in the middle of a shrub and eat every red berry they can reach? How many Winterberry seeds will be deposited, fertilized, and eventually fruitful themselves with the “help” of animals? How long will that red last before critters pick them clean? So many questions. It will be fun to get some answers, while driving safely of course.

Of course, Winterberries are not just to be found along Route 131. On a recent Sunday I was on the Les Hyde Nature Trail by the library and school, sitting on a bench that overlooks the marsh. Winds were calm and the view was comforting as I sat there decked out in orange (a good habit for November). I was looking for anything perched on a limb but all I could see were the Winterberry shrubs across the water over by the beaver dam. Clear as day and all lit up red, from my perspective they were the story of the marsh as the sky started to darken at what felt like an obscenely early hour.

And it was the story until I spotted an oddly-shaped, non-duck critter swimming in the waters between the bench and the Winterberry. A swimming red fox with its fluffy tail pointed and almost entirely out of the water—what a sight! Never seen a fox swim before and I was glad I had been looking in that direction when it doggy-paddled by. It looked like a small reddish boat being pulled backwards. From one shade of red to another, or what I like to call “orange without the yellow.”

Before long (and before darkness) a muskrat swam through the scene as close to the bench as possible. With its thin, scaley tail mostly submerged, the muskrat offered a nice contrast in swimming form to the red fox, which had exited the water in full view. One view led to another, and pretty soon the story was the marsh itself. The focus and presentation kept changing, but the nature never stopped.

PHOTO: Kirk Gentalen

A new headquarters for the St. George Historical Society

The trustees of the St. George Historical Society look forward to a “soft opening” of its new headquarters on Saturday, November 30th. Please come visit us from 10am to 4pm and see what we have done and what we plan on doing at 38 Main Street.

With this property, the Historical Society has four locations from which to promote and preserve the history of this fantastic town. The Andrew Robinson Homestead at Wiley’s Corner focuses on the village of Wiley’s Corner, the Robinson family of St. George, the history of farming in St. George and the Fort Point State Park. Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum in Port Clyde focuses on lighthouses, maritime history of the town, and the village of Port Clyde. The Schoolhouse Museum next to the Town Office focuses on the schoolhouses and education of St. George students. The property at 38 Main Street, that will be known as The Old Library Museum, will include a reference library, a home office for the Society, storage area for some of its collection, plus lots of display areas that we plan to rotate on a regular basis. The reference library includes books on local, regional and state history, plus books on local, regional, state and New England maritime history. It will also include books on local and regional genealogy to assist people in tracing their family trees. There has also been mention of a section of the library dedicated to local cookbooks.

The Old Library Museum will also have permanent displays for Lillius Gilchrest Grace and Mary Elinor Jackson. Lillius Gilchrest Grace was born in St. George, the daughter of a sea captain. She traveled the world and had a very interesting life, but never forgot her friends and family in St. George. Mary Elinor Jackson was also the daughter of a sea captain. She was very interested in education, promoting reading and learning for the people of St. George.

Mary Elinor Jackson

Mary Elinor Jackson saw the Age of Sail at its peak, as well as watched its decline. Her family’s fortune was soon depleted as times changed and railways replaced sailing ships. Miss Jackson and her brother lived in a house down behind what is now Tenants Harbor General Store. Upon her death in 1933, the house and small piece of land upon which it sat was left to her niece and nephew, who sold it to Mary Elinor’s friend Nellie MacKenzie. As a tribute to Miss Jackson, Nellie MacKenzie, Eleanor Aldrich and others worked to get the house moved to Main Street, where the four Long sisters donated a piece of property at the corner of Main Street and Water Street, and a lending library in memory of Mary Elinor Jackson was created in 1935.

Nearing its 50th anniversary the Jackson Memorial Library (JML) was in need of more room to meet the needs of a modern day library. In the later part of 1987 the library saw an addition, known as the Annex, added to the original structure. However, a fire in January 1988 caused extensive damage, but through a great amount of community support the necessary repairs were made and by the summer of 1988 the JML was reopened.

As the JML approached its 75th anniversary, the character of public libraries had evolved and were more than just a lending library—more room was needed. A building committee was formed and plans were developed to build a new library across the street at the corner of Main Street and Juniper Street. As the building plans were being finalized in 2012, the Lillius Gilchrest Grace Institute (that had built a youth center next to the St. George School) decided to make a gift of its building and property to the JML for its new location. Shortly thereafter the move was made.

With 38 Main Street being vacant, the Select Board decided to lease the property to Anne Klapfish for her retail shop known as Stonefish. With her untimely death in the summer of 2019, the building was once again going to be vacant. While the Select Board were considering their options of what to do with the property, the trustees of the St. George Historical Society approached the Board with a proposal to lease it, and they agreed.

—John Falla (Falla is president of the St. George Historical Society.)

Yuletide in St. George at 10: More variety, but still old-fashioned and fun

Grange SMTen years ago, at the end of her first summer of operating Stonefish boutique in Port Clyde, Anne Klapfish wondered if she could drum up some interest in holding what she thought of as “an old fashioned holiday fair.”

“I was looking for a way to extend the season a bit,” she recalls. “I also really like making Christmas ornaments, so with the store closed I wanted a chance to sell ornaments.”

The festive fair she had in mind would combine good quality antiques and art, with a strong showing of well-crafted handmade goods ranging from the quirky and unique to the traditional.  She pitched the idea to a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs and the Thanksgiving weekend event called “Yuletide in St. George” was born.

The first year the entire event was housed at the Oceanview Grange in Martinsville (halfway between Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde). “It started off as a showcase for local talent,” says Gillie Sloat, one of the original organizers. Over the years, more participants joined in, some at the Grange, but a number of them, including the Marshall Point Lighthouse, Hedgerow, Mars Hall Gallery, The Blue Tulip, Pond House Gallery—and, early on, Stonefish—opening their own doors just for the Yuletide event. This year Real Finds Consignment Shop and the Eastern Star’s Saturday craft fair have added themselves to the list. New this year, too, is that The Black Harpoon restaurant in Port Clyde will be open with a special holiday luncheon on both Friday and Saturday, while the Grange, Eastern Star and the St. George Parents’ Support Group will serve fundraiser lunches on Saturday 11 to 1 (the latter, which benefits the extra-budgetary needs of the St. George School,will take place at the Town Office).

The fair at the Oceanview Grange continues to be a centerpiece of Yuletide, giving  the event much of its distinctive old-fashioned flavor. “As beat-up as this old building is, people seem to love coming here,” Sloat laughs. “Some stay for hours, shopping, socializing, enjoying lunch [which this year will feature homemade chili]. Basically, people are celebrating the season while they shop. Plus we’re doing something good for people because the lunch and entry fee are fundraisers for the town’s Emergency Fuel Assistance Fund.”

St. George resident Angie Hritz, shown here with an array of her “Sea Sirens, Sorcerers and Sprites” dolls, will be one of the vendors at the Oceanview Grange during this year’s Yuletide in St. George event.

St. George resident Angie Hritz, shown here with an array of her “Sea Sirens, Sorcerers and Sprites” dolls, will be one of the vendors at the Oceanview Grange during this year’s Yuletide in St. George.

Klapfish agrees that “the happiness of the event” is a strong draw for shoppers. But another reason is its timing. “One of the reasons we chose Thanksgiving weekend was that people with friends and relatives in town have an activity they can do with their visitors. You can enjoy a scenic drive, visit the lighthouse, get good food completely unrelated to turkey and find many great gifts in every price range—every venue offers something special.”

The evolving variety and number of participating shops, galleries and craftspeople since that first fair at the Grange, in fact, is what has made Yuletide in St. George a particularly attractive opportunity to find truly exceptional gifts while enjoying a festive coastal setting. As Sloat observes, “It makes the shopping part of the holiday fun.”

This year Yuletide in St. George takes place November 29-30 (9am-4pm). The fairs at the Oceanview Grange and Eastern Star (Odd Fellows Hall) are open on November 30 only. ­—JW

For a list of merchants participating in Yuletide, click here.
For a map of Yuletide locations, click here.

Treating neighbors like family

NtoN SMThere’s a strong tradition in St. George of taking care of family, especially family members who are unable to drive themselves to appointments, the grocery store or social events. But for every five people who get help with transportation from family or friends, notes St. George resident Dianne Oelberger, there is at least one person who needs a ride but doesn’t have the support system to provide it.

“People were falling through the cracks,” says Oelberger, who is chair person of St. George’s new Neighbor to Neighbor Ride Assistance Program. Since this past March, Neighbor to Neighbor has provided more than 92 rides to St. George residents who need transportation—most often to see a physician, but also to shop for groceries, pick up perscriptions, or get to a vet or hair appointment.

Oelberger wishes people would also use the service to get out of the house to meet a friend for lunch or enjoy a concert or play. That’s because, she says, even though people of a variety of ages have received rides, at its core Neighbor to Neighbor is basically about “aging in place.” “We just have a passion for increasing support services for people who otherwise would have to leave their homes.”

A year in the planning, beginning with research collected by Charmarie Blaisdell and Stan Levy on other groups addressing similar needs, the organization now has 24 drivers on its list of volunteers and a strong core group of supporters—Jane Staman, Trish Barnes, Rosemary Limmen, Diana Smith and Arlene Davis. Oelberger, a public health nurse by training, also brings 15 years of homecare nursing experience to the mix, noting that another St. George nurse, Joss Coggeshall, has been a valuable resource because of his own longtime efforts to bring people together to address the aging-in-place concept in St. George.

Taking one careful step at a time, the group has worked hard to get brochures explaining the program out into the community and to think through logistics and safety standards. “Privacy is particularly important,” says Oelberger, who notes that every Neighbor to Neighbor driver agrees to keep confidential who receives a ride and why. Oelberger also works hard to get a good match between drivers and riders so that no one feels uncomfortable with the arrangement.

Although right now the program’s focus is transportation, on the agenda for future consideration is what Oelberger calls a “friendly visitor program,” in which the group could provide home social visits with St. George residents who are housebound. “But this isn’t a charity,” Oelberger stresses, noting that for liability purposes the group cannot accept payment or tips. “The people using us just don’t have the family support many others have.”

To request a ride, St. George residents can call 691-7069. The call will go directly to voicemail, asking the caller to leave a call-back phone number. A Neighbor to Neighbor volunteer will return the call to talk about the transportation need, put the word out for available volunteer drivers and then match the request with the ride. People requesting rides need to allow a few days’ lead time. —JW

Letters, November 21

The St. George Parents’ Support Group’s Yuletide luncheon on Saturday, November 30 at the Town Office is a fundraiser to help with any needs our St. George teachers and students have that are not covered by the general budget. This includes such things as playground equipment, art supplies, nurse’s supplies, books, programs, field trips and special guests like our artist-in-residence program/guests. Our school district is in a spending freeze so financial assistance from the parents’ group for our hard working teachers is at an all time high. All our funds stay right here in St. George and our group is open to any community member including parents, grandparents, guardians, or any adults interested in helping fund raise and being involved in school activities. The luncheon is also being assisted by the St. George 7th grade which is raising money to support their end-of-the-year trip. All proceeds from the luncheon will be split between the parents’ group and the 7th grade class. Lunch will be served between 11am and 1pm.  I will be serving up homemade chicken ‘n biscuits, fish chowder made by the talented Kristina Mitchel (from the Oceanhouse), as well as several other dishes including gluten-free dishes and an array of desserts. Anyone interested in helping or donating food can contact me at 207 701 8961 or via email at sugartreecakes@yahoo.com.
Darci Lynn Chickering-Morris

The St. George Eastern Star is having a craft fair and luncheon on the Saturday of the Yuletide in St. George weekend. We wanted St. George residents to know that the proceeds from the fair go to charitable causes such as sponsoring children from St. George at Christmas time, donating to the food pantry, Maine Children’s cancer program, Life Flight of Maine and cancer and heart funds in Maine.
Judy Barstow

Ambulance Association receives Service of the Year award

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn November 9, the St. George Ambulance Association received the 2013 Region 6 EMS Service of the Year award at the 33rd Annual Emergency Medical Services Seminar awards dinner held at the Samoset Resort. The State of Maine’s EMS Region 6 comprises Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties. The annual EMS Seminar is organized by Atlantic Partners EMS based in Winslow.

“I give a lot of credit for this award to the town of St. George,” says Adrian Stone, director of the Ambulance Association. “This community supports the ambulance service in ways other small communities haven’t. For St. George this service has been a priority.”

Not only is it unusual for a community the size of St. George to have a full-time paramedic on duty (this is the town’s second year of full-time coverage), says Stone, but having its own ambulance is also becoming a rarity.

In a letter to Stone the Awards Committee noted that the focus of this year’s EMS Service of the Year award is on agencies that have “a strong community connection.” The committee praised the ambulance association’s non-emergency health-related programs and services such as weekly blood pressure checks, annual flu shots, ongoing first aid and safety training and close collaboration with the Community Emergency Shelter Group.

Stone notes that this year, too, St. George’s Ambulance Association was one of 12 services selected to participate in a state-sponsored community para-medicine pilot project. “This program is a gap-filler,” he explains. “A physician can ask us to supply certain types of medical care in a non-emergency setting here in the field so that the patient doesn’t have to leave home to get that care.”

Stone says he gets calls from small towns all over the country asking him what makes the ambulance service in St. George so exceptional. “I tell them it’s the make-up of the community. Not only is there some affluence here to make financial support possible, but there are also people here who recognize the need for planning—they don’t want to wait for a disaster to happen before thinking about how to respond.”—JW

Got Latin?

Meta SMLast month we here at Hedgerow had some visitors from Prague, as in the Czech Republic. They were quite cosmopolitan and had way more languages at their disposal than I. I speak no Czech, nor much beyond high school French. And the smattering of Hebrew and Greek I have I learned decades ago and never helped me much in daily communication. Our visitors’ local relatives translated what needed to be translated, but we really didn’t get very far until the gardener in their group started rattling off the Latin names of the plants she was seeing here.

She first noticed my newly planted Gingko biloba and my head snapped around. Yes, that’s right. Was that a Pieris? No, azalea, Rhododendron. I pointed toward the two different types of Pieris I had in the woods. Is this an Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’? Yes, and that one is Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen.’ Ah. We had a common language after all.

I didn’t forget that I knew Latin, it’s just that my Latin is limited to names of plants and the first words of the psalms. But knowing the Latin, or scientific name of the plants got us going. And that is indeed the point of the scientific names: a way to communicate across cultures, where different plants (and animals) have one name, not just the local, idiosyncratic names (like bugbane or dog hobble, for instance) they also might have.

A little history here: What we call the Latin name is the system of binomial nomenclature that the Swedish scientist Carl Linneaus came up with. The first part is the genus to which a species belongs and the second is the species. So, for instance, what we know commonly as Paper Birch is Betula (birch) papyrifera. And then particular cultivars of each species get a single quote listing, such as Betula papyrifera ‘Renaissance Reflection.’ (Convention calls for the Latin to be italicized.)

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

I find I slip in and out of the common names and scientific names of plants for no good or consistent reason. I’ll talk about daisies rather than Leucanthemum at the same time I’ll point out Coreopsis as opposed to tickseed. And I love when some of the terms roll trippingly off the tongue when one finally learns them and figures out how to pronounce them, like Cimicifuga, which, it turns out, is now the-plant-formerly-known-as-Cimicifuga since genetic research has shown it belongs to the Actea genus and should be called that instead. Go figure.

As our visitors from Prague left, they were repeating the name of a tree they saw here for the first time: Metasequoia glyptostroboides, a.k.a. Dawn Redwood. Very satisfying.
— Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)

Cranberry Tea

This is a delicious alternative to cider. Although it’s good cold, it’s best when served hot in a mug with a cinnamon stick. Use it as the basis for a toddy when you’re feeling a scratchy throat! —BTW

cup16 oz. fresh cranberries
2 quarts water
3 large cinnamon sticks, crumbled
4 whole cloves
grated zest of 1 orange
1 12-oz. can frozen orange juice
1 6-oz. can frozen lemonade
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)

Combine the cranberries, 2 quarts of water, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and simmer until the cranberries pop. Remove from heat and add the frozen orange juice and lemonade concentrates. Stir until melted. Strain into a large bowl and stir in the remaining 4 cups water and sugar. Mix well. Reheat to serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until needed.