IMG_5447Face it…Maine is a pretty special place. This weekend truly exemplified what makes Maine so special…it’s about friends and home-grown healthy fun, and why I love it here so much, especially in the Fall.

It started out on Friday when my friend Stan (from Massachusetts) posted on Facebook that he’d be coming up my way on Saturday on a microbrewery tour, and could we get together? So I arranged to meet him in Freeport (home of IMG_5440LL Beans) at the Maine Beer Company to sample their offerings. They make about a dozen different beers, all quite good and with some character. We connected there and had a nice hour or so tasting their beers and discussing the merits of each, then we came back to my rented camp for dinner. Along the way, my old buddy Ron called….Ron was the GM for a river company I worked for many years ago, and I had not had the opportunity to connect with him this visit, so I asked if he wanted to join Stan and me for dinner. He agreed, and after stopping along the way to fish for striped bass at a great spot along the roadside, he showed up at my place a few hours later.

Meanwhile, we got back to the camp and I heated up some home made seafood chowder I had made the day before, using fresh local ingredients (Maine scallops, Maine clams, Maine lobster, codfish pieces from off the Maine coast. Maine-grown veggies…) and some steaks that I had bought at a local farmer’s market. These were locally grown, naturally fed and without any hormones or injections. And delicious.

After a great dinner and wonderful conversation, Ron headed home and Stan and I played a few hands of cribbage (a card game that is played very widely here in Maine). Then we called it a night and he crashed on the couch.

The next morning, after cooking up a great breakfast of organic eggs (from Maine) and maple sausage that I bought at a local food store that grows, butchers and sells its own meat, Stan hit the road to continue his microbrewery tour, and Ron called me to see if he could connect up for a trip to the next town where they  are having a Pumpkin Festival.

IMG_5450The Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest is a great affair…this was my first visit…and Ron and I had a blast walking around looking at the monstrous pumpkins (the biggest was about 1800 pounds), and watching the ‘pumpkin hurl’ where they tossed smaller, 10 lb orbs out into the ocean using a catapult. Then they fired up the “Big 10 Inch”, a huge steam powered cannon that shot a 10 pound pumpkin about 5000 feet out into the ocean. IMG_5446It was truly impressive, with local radio host Don Kerrigan announcing the event. I worked with Don back in college, although I’m sure he has no recollection so I didn’t go up and say hello…but the connection reminded me of my roots.

Afterwards, Ron headed off to do some chores, and I went off to the home of my friends Roger and Marsha, IMG_5458where I promised to help them make some cider. While I was out in the back yard IMG_5486picking apples with their antique fruit picker, my friends Kevin and Juliette stopped by to pitch in. Soon, the six of us were harvesting bushels of apples from their trees, and using their small tractor to bring them up to the garage where the apple press was prepared. My friends Mark and Dee were there, so the eight of us went to work…some chopping apples, some grinding the pieces into the press, then manually crushing them and collecting the cider (delicious), and afterwards we split up the product, and headed home.

Today, Kevin, Juliette, Marsha, hopefully Roger, and I are off to a special fishing spot that Kevin and I know about to catch smallmouth Bass and enjoy Columbus Day and celebrate the Fall.

This captures what I love about Maine: friendship, active lifestyles, some silly fun (pumpkin cannons??) and just an overall celebration of the good things in life.


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