Thursday, November 12, 2009

One big scene and one tiny scene from Long Island

Nope, not that one. Long Island, Maine.

It's a tiny island in Casco Bay off Portland. Kittie and I opted for a mini-holiday - drove to Woburn, Massachusetts, Amtrak train ride Saturday morning from Woburn to Portland, Maine - ferry from Portland to Long Island - and a great weekend stay at The Chestnut Hill Inn.Travel in reverse via the same means was on Sunday afternoon.

Since it was weeks past Labor Day - the end of the season - tourists were gone from Long Island. We brought in our own food (told our hostess, Carol Doughty, that we'd be bringing a chicken and an axe with us on the train.) Carol gave us the run of her restaurant kitchen, the restaurant being closed, and provided some great muffins and coffee the next morning.

We walked the half mile south to South Beach (no diets involved in this one), a huge expanse of granite sand. An empty expanse. We explored until nearly dark and the landscape below is one souvenir.

The wind was blowing fiercely, the temperature in the 40s, the water (strangely) almost calm. Record high tides the night before kept us from the foremost tourist attraction (beyond beauty) of the beach, the singing sands. They were too wet to sing (apparently the sand squeaks underfoot as you walk).

Cool colors, cool weather, cool scene.

Then with the light fading, we made our way back up the gravel road to the inn. Looking down, I saw an incredible play of color and pattern in the crushed granite - can anyone guess what underlies the island? - littered with fall leaves.

Both paintings are 6 x 4 in. (15 x 10 cm) original oil on hand-made canvas panel. Unframed. Available in my Etsy store .
The weekend was filled with friendly folks. A Long Islander driving up from the ferry saw us trundling toward the inn, dragging our roller suitcases behind us. He didn't have room for us, but he could take our suitcases to the inn. We then had a liesurely walk past permanent homes and neat little summer cabins.

His sister-in-law, it turns out, was a guest at the inn, and she took Kittie for a long stroll to meet several islanders as I trekked around solo to make photos of bits and pieces of the island.

Everything jibed. Amtrak's conductor was a hoot. The restaurant waitress on Saturday was fun, even if she didn't let me have the apple pancakes (we were too late for breakfast). People on the ferry - two stops at smaller islands before the mile-long Long Island - were (a) friendly or (b) fun to watch or (c) both. Our hostess at the inn was delightful.

Rain, which had been forecast to stream down in record amounts for both Saturday and Sunday, held off until Sunday afternoon as we were (after shopping in downtown) 25 steps from the Portland Holiday Inn. There the concierge called us a taxi to get to the train home. The taxi driver gave us a life tale that was full, but punctuated with depth. Matter-of-factly, he told us of the loss to cancer of his girl friend, about his many drives from Portland to Woburn, 100 miles each way, where the Lahey Clinic did what they could and then wrote off most of the charges because the doctor hated it that she had gone.

Highs, lows, friendly people, good food, human depth, human warmth - decompression at its best.

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