Category Archives: November 9

‘A shopping day’ that is about supporting all a community has to offer

Fourteen years ago, when Anne Klapfish gathered a small group of people together to talk about the possibility of collaborating on an “old fashioned Christmas fair” on Thanksgiving weekend here in St. George, her main goal was to provide local seasonal retailers like herself with an opportunity to end the business year on a high note. In this respect, the idea—which the group called “Yuletide in St. George”—was not that different from the “Black Friday” concept used at shopping malls and in downtown shopping districts.

But as Yuletide became an annual event that grew to include a whole “trail” of venues winding through the town, it became apparent that there was also something different about Yuletide in St. George—and something much, much better than any kickoff to the holiday shopping season that a mall or big-town chamber of commerce had to offer. It was a difference, Klapfish thinks, that had to do with the St. George community’s growing involvement in the weekend.

“Yes, it’s a shopping day,” Klapfish acknowledges, noting that the St. George Business Alliance is now involved as a sponsor, “but it seems to me that over the years it’s become a time when in this community everybody just comes together in a spirit of conviviality and respect. People come for all the right reasons—to be part of a community and to support all aspects of what this community has to offer.”

This can be seen in the list of the event’s venues which today range not only from established, locally owned and operated retail shops like Klapfish’s Stonefish boutique, The Blue Tulip, and Mars Hall Gallery, but also to non-profit fundraising and service organizations like the Ocean View Grange, the Eastern Star, and the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum. So in stopping at the locations marked on the Yuletide map, participants can support in equal measure both local commerce and local causes. “People share the wealth from venue to venue to venue,” Klapfish points out.

Klapfish says she also particularly likes that the Madison Avenue-driven hype present at most shopping malls is absent from the St. George Yuletide event. “The things that are promoted most during Yuletide are the things that people here in St. George have made, whether the food they offer or their crafts and art,” she stresses, adding, “and you know you will run into people you know. People are in a good mood, there’s camaraderie. It’s a way to step into a holiday event at a scale and intimacy you don’t find elsewhere.”

Yuletide in St. George runs the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend from 10-4. Some venues are open only a single day and some hours vary, so check the Yuletide map for details.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

Bless the rains and Shaggy Manes

Nature Bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the ability to grow a shaggy mane on their head, some settle for shaggy chins (and those wear their shagginess with pride!). There are shaggy manes that we all can enjoy though, and of course I am talking about Shaggy Mane mushrooms. But enjoy them while you can, they get along fast!

Shaggy Manes are one of the few mushrooms that can “magically” appear overnight after a rain (most mushrooms take a few days or longer). On October 25th St. George received about two inches of rain, and after a generally dry summer and mostly dry fall the water was welcomed whole heartily. On October 26th (the next day) Shaggy Mane mushrooms erupted in several lawns in St George and the responses I heard were mixed.

“Get them out of here,” “I’m not touching them,” “What are those?”and “I just keep running over them with my lawn mower” kinda sums up the energy of one camp of Shaggy Mane observers. And who can blame them–“Those things weren’t there yesterday, I swear!” Shaggy Manes can erupt and take over a yard seemingly moments after the rain slows down and it’s hard to miss them when they do turn up.

Shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus), also known as “Lawyer’s wigs” in some small fungal circles, have cylindrical, white missile-like caps covered with white/brown scales that give the mushrooms an attractive “shaggy” appearance (as opposed to a “Scooby” appearance which is something totally different). They stand up to one foot and may erupt in impressive numbers—like 100s to 1000s–in yards and wood chip piles. Shaggies will grow for a day or two and then undergo an extreme metamorphosis.

The bottom edge of the cap turns into a black, inky like liquid. Over the next day or so the entire cap liquifies, or deliquesces, from the bottom up only leaving a thin stalk surrounded and/or covered by a black blob of goo. They go from attractive to somewhat disturbing in a matter of days. Sounds appetizing, no?

This deliquescing is the typical spore dispersal strategy for Inky Cap mushrooms (family Coprinaceae, genus Coprinus). Within its cap, Shaggy Mane gills grow close to each other like pages in a book. So close that “regular” gravity-released spore dispersal would result in most spores being stuck between gills. Instead, as the spores along the margin of a Shaggy Mane cap mature, enzymes are released to dissolve the edge of the cap. This autodigestion causes the cap border to spread, crack and peel up. In the process, the gills are separated and spores are released into the air without concern of becoming stuck between gills. Spores be free!

This dispersal method works well for Shaggy Manes as they are found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In the Americas Shags grow from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, at sea level to over 10,000 ft. Those shaggy spores really disperse!

The local, excited camp of shaggy mane observers came up with “I saw some at the transfer station!” and “There are hundreds of white mushrooms in a yard on 131. You gotta see them!” These are the fungophiles who know that while not only being attractive and repulsive, shaggy manes are downright yummy! Pick them before they deliquesce, then steam ‘em or cook with eggs (“shags and eggs” is a well-loved treat in the Palmer-Gentalen household) and feast!

“So, what are they doing here?” my neighbor John asked me as we looked at the pair of shaggy manes in his yard. “They are decomposing something,” I replied. Apparently, there had been a wood pile not too long ago right where Shags were growing. Birch chips and wood shrapnel were left there and were now being processed by these shags. Shaggy manes fit in with the classic fungus niche of decomposer, the art of turning things back into soil. Attractive, yummy and a decomposer—Shaggy Manes have got it all! How are Shaggy Manes not the state mushroom of Maine?

By October 29th all that was left of the Shaggy Manes I was watching were stalks and goo. A four-day whirlwind lesson on Shaggy Mane populations and dispersal. Just when you think mushroom season is done and gone, Shags state their presence with authority. I appreciate them even more now. See you out there!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

A ‘challenge by choice’ experience

By Laura Olds and Sophia Vigue

From October 16th to the 20th, the 8th grade students from St. George School attended a class trip to The Leadership School at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro. The Leadership School is all about “challenge by choice.” The staff there encourage kids to do things they may not do in their everyday lives. They also taught us a lot about being good leaders and peers.

Our days there were very full and we spent our time doing fun things. We did a lot of group challenges and activities for team building. We had a teacher who worked with us during the day throughout the entire week. He guided us through different team exercises, and the meanings behind them. We learned a lot about communication, collaboration, and decision-making.

There was an indoor climbing wall as well as an outdoor ropes course offered. Many students faced their fear of heights, and almost everyone did at least one climb over the week. A lot of people’s favorite part about Camp Kieve was the climbing. (The three meals and snacks we got every day were also a class favorite.) Our St. George teachers took turns being there with us for the days and overnight.

There were other schools there as well. Most classes were middle-level students, but there were a few younger grades. During the afternoon and evening there were choice activities offered to all the students, like climbing, different outdoor sports, fishing, and arts and crafts. We also did an egg drop competition, played a fun game called “Escape The Freedom,” and did a talent show where we performed a skit or dance with the students in our cabin.

“I liked the fun memories that were created,” Audrey Leavitt stated.

Liam O’Neal reminisced, “It was a great place with great food.”

“I liked it because it had a lot of challenges,” observed Sophia Mathieson.

“My favorite part was that the whole class got to hang out together,” Anna Kingsbury added.

Going to Camp Kieve was an amazing experience for our class. It was great, as this is our last year in school together. This was a way we could spend more time with each other and become closer as a whole and realize what it means to be leaders at our school. We would like to thank the staff, board members and community of St. George for providing this opportunity for us.

Olds and Vigue are 8th grade students at St. George School.

PHOTOS: St. George School staff