Monday, August 30, 2010

The Last Summer Weekend, Part 1 of 3: The Union Fair

This weekend was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Filled with family, friends, amazing food, amazing music, and natural beauty. I will describe my adventures in detail in three installments: The Union Fair, The Cow Island Concert, and a picnic on Horsehead Island.

SO: The Union Fair. The fair has been held in Union annually since 1869, and started as an agricultural and livestock centered event. Every year when my cousins and I were little, we and our fathers would pile into my uncle's wood-paneled station wagon and trundle the twenty minutes inland to Union, windows down, "oldies" blaring from the tinny speakers. We purchased tickets for rides and spent hours going on the ferris wheel and the mini-dragon roller coaster, getting lost in the house of mirrors (where I shed many tears), screaming through the haunted house ride, and clambering through the house of fun. We got sick on cotton candy, sno-cones, and hot dogs, and spent far too much money playing games involving popping balloons, shooting targets, and smashing pop-up gophers. Some of my most vivid memories of being little come from the fair, such as watching tractor-pulls and demolition derbies, eating blueberry pies, and returning one year to find that I was finally tall enough for the bumper cars.

While most of my memories revolve around the amusement park aspect, the Union Fair has a rich agricultural history. The fair gives awards to the best vegetables ranging from zucchini to coriander, and hosts vendors of wooden-crafts and knitwear, as well as devoting an entire field to barns where farmers can exhibit their prize farm animals.

Ben and I went this year with a full backpack: my Nikon d80, Ben's flipHD video camera, sandwiches, a notebook, and plenty of nostalgia. We parked and out of excitement I thanked a woman who had done nothing for us. We arrived earlier than most people, so the fair looked like a ghost-land: empty and creepy beyond belief. Here are a few eerie shots:

Ben in front of a ride called "A Bear Affair."

Our first stop was a game vendor, where I popped two balloons with darts and won a lime green flourescent horse, which I named Gladys after the woman who manned the dart station. She kindly obliged when I asked if I could take her picture. Here she is with her namesake:

And Gladys the horse proceeded to ride around in the side-pocket of my backpack for the rest of the day:

After we won Gladys, Ben and I went to check out the animals because the rides didn't open up until one. So off we trotted to the vendor's stalls and the barns. We saw belted galloways cows, chickens, roosters, turkeys, alpacas...and all of them prize winning. There was a majestic turkey and a fuzzy alpaca I particularly liked:

We then met the star of the Union Fair, Ray. Ray makes fudge and candy and wears a hat that says "Ray's Candyland." When I asked if I could take his picture, he said "last time someone asked to take my picture I ended up in a book! Do you know Joyce Tenneson?" Yes, in fact, I do, I told him, and I was going to her house for dinner that very night! She put him in her book Amazing Men. Ben has footage of Ray telling us about how he "died" when he was in first grade after getting hit by an oil truck and dragged along the road 300 yards. I hope to post that footage soon because it was pretty amazing. So here's Ray:

Of course we had no choice but to go on the rides once they opened. Rather, I should say ride singular, because the only one we weren't completely terrified of was the ferris wheel. Here is the ride we wouldn't be caught dead on:

And here is our safer alternative:

And the Amazing view from the top:

Our Union Fair excursion ended with a Maine Wine Tasting. We sat near the wine tasting tent and watched carriage races. I wanted to bet on the horses but that was after my fifth taste of wine and Ben had to good sense not to let me....

It was such a strange day, because mixed in with all the childhood memories of how I remembered the fair was the reality-- people selling confederate flags, signs and booths all over the place for the tea-party candidate running for governor in Maine, and now that I'm older I saw the true grunge of the rides and games. However, I also saw farmers proud of their harvests, I saw families thrilled to be at the fair, and I had a wonderful time taking pictures of the proud people who worked there. I'll put up more portraits in a post in a little while, because I think you readers are probably ready for this to end.

Despite the strangeness, I think the Union Fair was one of my favorite days of the whole summer. Ben and I were so open to adventures and to anything that presented itself, which made every moment surprising and so much fun.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my weekend.

Necessary quotation:
"In Maine
we are glad to be part of a land
that remains so beautiful under its green skin
of woods and open fields, that is glitteringly
bordered by thousands of miles
of breaking waves, and that is lovely,
too, with an unbroken tradition
of concerns, with the kind, enduring grace
of its neighborliness.
-Kate Barnes

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bullet Points

NEWS: I just bought a new lens. I'm beyond excited. I think it's going to be amazing, but I'll let you know when it comes.

PLANS: I'm going to the Union Fair tomorrow with my amazing cousin Ben (who's visiting for the week while he learns to SCUBA dive) so I hope to have some interesting photos for you guys. And I go back to Colby in a week for my senior year...YIKES.

EVENTS: The world renown photographer Joyce Tenneson used me as a model today (excerpt from her bio: "Tenneson's work has been shown in over 150 exhibitions worldwide, and is part of numerous private and museum collections. Her photographs have appeared on countless covers for magazines such as: Time, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Premiere, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine," also named one of the top ten women photographers in the world by Time Magazine). She's very close friends with my mom and she's giving the portrait as a gift...pretty awesome. She's working with the photographer Elisabeth Nordeng Aanes (who has shot amazing spreads for Norweigan fashion mags) and putting on a workshop for Norweigan women this week, so I'll model for them again on Monday. Should have some cool portraits of myself. So that my grandchildren will know I once wasn't old and wrinkly.

SOOOOOO that's my news. Here are a few pictures to tide you over until the barrage of pictures from the Union Fair. I'm beyond excited...Ben and Andrew and Alison (his siblings, my cousins) and I used to go with our dads every year when we were little...ah, those were the days. Nostalgia can be a powerful drug.


Lincolnville, ME.

See-through ferry.

Lincolnville Beach from the ferry terminal.

Fisherman on the dock.

Docking the Ferry.

Necessary Quotation:
"I think I understand, Wille."
"Oh shit," Willie said, "You never understand anybody that loves you."
-Earnest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Reading List

Those of you who know me well know that I'm obsessed with books. I can't stop reading, I get sucked into books and totally addicted to them. I dive into a good one and sometimes read it in less than a day because I just can't put it down... On that note, I've put together a list of the best books I've read this summer. I'm in the middle of two right now, but I'm going to wait until I've finished them to recommend them to you, though I'm pretty sure one of them is going to continue to be amazing.

The Children's Book
, A.S. Bayat.
This book is about several families at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It is hands down the best book I have read in years, maybe one of the best books I have EVER read. If that's not saying something, I don't know what is, because I cannot give higher praise. It is beautifully written; playful, kind, honest, heart-breaking, and riveting. Being addicted to this one was difficult because it's about 800 pages long, but it was so worth it, and a treat that it didn't end too soon. Read this. It's pretty heavy though, so be warned. And if you don't like it, don't tell me.

The Great World Spin, Colum McCann.
Thanks to my dear friend Casey Brock-Wilson, I read this book recently. Great read, the story of several lives in NYC in the 1970s. He tells the story through many different voices, an impressive feat because all of the characters really hold their own, and the writing style is fluid and yet differs from character to character. Well done, an enjoyable read. It seemed slightly cliched, but over-all I liked it.

Philip Caputo.
A book about illegal immigrants and ranchers in Southern Arizona, right on the Mexican border. Examines the history of the region as well as the struggle surrounding the border through a novel whose action continues to build until the very end. Great book, highly recommend it. Caputo is a great writer.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
, Steig Larsson.
Duh. Who didn't read the third installment to find out what happens to Lisbeth?

The Fifth Woman, Henning Mankell.
Henning Mankell was the great Swedish mystery writer before Steig Larsson's trilogy. It's a creepy story, intense and absorbing. Definitely deserve to be's also interesting because you see that Larsson actually borrowed a lot from Mankell in terms of style and themes...check it out.

Spies Of The Balkans
, Alan Furst.
I LOVE Alan Furst. Great historical spy thrillers, and because I'm such a history geek (and a nerd in general) I really love it. Read anything by Furst. But this is his latest, and I really, really liked it.

Free-Range Chickens, Simon Rich.
An hilarious book of sketches that he wrote, such as "If Adults Were Subjected to the Same Humiliations as Children" and "A Conversation Between All the Monsters in My Closet When I was Seven." I was crying I was laughing so hard. Thanks to Alison Weisgall for the tip.

Last Man On The Mountain
, Jennifer Jordan.
Not the greatest in terms of concise writing, but an awesome account of the mountain climber Dudley Wolfe, who grew up in Rockport, Maine, and was the first man to die Climbing K2 in 1939. Fascinating.

A Summer Collection

Since I have a lot of pictures floating around that I didn't write full posts on, I figured I might as well share a few with you guys. These are from various excursions and adventures throughout the summer, hope you enjoy :) More to come as this wonderful month winds down...

Beech Hill view, looking west.

Black-eyed Susans.

Beech Hill carriage house-- used to host daily teas in the 1800s.

Beech Hill view looking east.

Cousters (cousin-sisters). Self-timer action.

A pollinating bumble-bee.

Glamour shot, boat style.

Good American boys...


Matching kitty!

Island life.

The whale skull (with complete skeleton that you can't quite see) that Keith's dad found on Greens.

Sleeping porch view sunset.

Camden Church steeple at sunset.

The old Rockport Elementary School, left to decay.

Rosie-dawg mid-frisbee catch!

Impala puppy.

Necessary Quotation:
"To bless this region, its vendages, and those
Who call it home: though one cannot always
Remember exactly why one has been happy,
There is no forgetting that one was."
-W.H. Auden, Good-bye to the Mezzogiorno

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vinalhaven, Maine and Greens Island

When I was sixteen years old, I became friends with the wild souls my age who lived on Vinalhaven, a beautiful island off the coast. Many of them live on Greens Island, a 400 acre heaven across from Carver's Harbor. The place is magical-- no electricity, no cars, no noise (and when you're sixteen, not having any parents there is pretty awesome too). Greens is a fairy world-- moss growing everywhere, the surf crashing on perfectly rounded rocks, the sun dappling through the trees. I hadn't been out there in two years, so when my friend Keith sent me a message wondering what I was up to, I happily took him up on his offer to visit and happily ventured across the bay.

I took the 8:45 ferry and was on VH by 10. Keith came to get me and we went over to Surf Side restaurant, a local haunt where other members of the VH crew were eating: Matty, Miles, Brady, Oakley, and Josie. It was so wonderful to see them all (though I missed those who were absent), and to see how they've grown up, to hear about the awesome things they're doing in their adventurous lives. It made me wonder how different I seemed to them. I certainly know I've changed (not fundamentally, don't worry) and I wonder how apparent that is to people who haven't seen me in a while.

After breakfast Keith and I ventured to Carver's market where we got the most amazing peaches I've had in a while. We then tried to go swimming but Booth's quarry was closed so instead we took his "Trusty Steed" (a 13 ft skiff with an outboard) over to Greens. His family's house out there is amazing; I realized that I said "amazing" too many times while I was over there, but there are few others words to describe Greens. It simply takes your breath away. The sun beats down on the grasses of the padded down paths that wind through the wind-stripped trees, the bugs buzz in the blackberry bushes, the cold water swoops in to cover the rocks that line the shore. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be friends with people who are wonderful enough to appreciate the magic of the absence of a super-connected life.

Keith and I lay on the warm rocks at Easter Egg Beach, aptly named because each rock is about the size and shape of an egg! Even the bigger ones are all perfectly round, or at least ovular. The only not-stellar part of the day was when I slipped on a slimy rock and landed on my knee cap on another rock. It's a pretty gnarly cut...and I think I bruised the bone because I can't put weight on my leg when it's bent. So hopefully that heals itself up nice and soon, though I AM very excited for the scar it turns into. Nothing like a Greens Island scar, of which I already have many :)

I miss Greens already. Going out there made me nostalgic for past summers but also made me realize that things progress and people grow up (however slightly) and we all continue on our way. And that's fine, that's good. That's how it should be. I alighted off the return ferry content with my own life and in love with those beautiful islands.

Huge thank you to crew for the warm welcome and to Keith for hanging out with me and showing me around his side of Greens that I hadn't been to before. Best reconnection ever :)

Now for pictures!
The man of the hour, Keith Drury.

The door to the Drury residence.

Easter Egg Beach.

Boiler Point.

Keith getting the backpack from the trunk.

Graffiti-ed, abandoned truck on Vinalhaven.

Gulls flying off a roof after Brady set off a fire-cracker. Nice.

Ferry-boat ferry-boat ferry-boat.

Industry spewing into Rockland Harbor.

Ferry terminal.

Thoughts: Sometimes I think it's strange how people at school don't see this side of me-- the girl who obsessively sails and explores and basically lives outside all summer. It's built into my core. I'm glad I have this blog and some pictures to make it a more continuous part of my life, even when I'm land-locked at school.

Necessary quotation:
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding