Well, geez I've missed you guys! I have a couple good excuses for not posting for two months. First my computer broke and it took six weeks for the shop to get around to looking at it. (Somehow during that time and since, we have gone from a one computer household to three laptops- so this should never happen again!) Second I don't know how it happened exactly, but now I don't have the photo shop (on any one of the three laptops) that allows me to downsize and crop pictures, so that they are small enough to post- so no pictures till my husband sits down with the computer and fixes it for me. Then we just took a lovely vacation and I can't wait to tell you all about it!
First we flew from Fairbanks all the way to Portland Maine, and then drove to my grandparents home, which is on Contention cove between Surry and Ellsworth; two small towns near Mt. Desert Island (think Bar Harbor). My grandparents were both born and raised in Maine, as were their parents, and their parents before them. They relocated to Oregon long enough to raise four children and then they moved back to Maine and built a home in the same location that my grampa's parents had lived since the mid nineteen hundreds. This is the second time we have traveled to Maine with our children, both times in early November, and both visits we have experienced warmer than usual temperatures. We were blessed with sixties and seventies, sun, oak leaves and hazelnuts and laden apple trees everywhere. I absolutely adore Maine. Due to the balance of seasons, the climate/growing conditions, real people, old houses, history, rural living, the woods,ocean and wild life; it is one of the few places that I think I could move to. The main drawback being it's distance from all our friends and family.
One of the clinchers for me, as far as whether we could fit in, was a trip to the Blue Hill farmer's market, where, I visited with a woman selling fresh and aged goat cheese; who not only raises goats, but is a potter (an occupation I hope to take up again someday), and her son was home schooled and also went to the Waldorf school up the road. When I hear Waldorf school; I equate that with knowing that there are like minded families with similar values and lifestyles - which, is so important when considering locations one could transplant to. As I stood in the midst of this small quaint farmer's market; admiring the products available; local maple syrup, heirloom apples and cider from wild apples, vegetables and charcuterie, and as equally important the back to our roots vendors, I looked around and wanted to shout, "I've found my tribe! You could be my people!" As I selected beets, parsnips, shallots, winter squash and salad greens to turn into dinner that night, I was just bursting with contentment and wanting to meet everyone and see their farms. I was also reminded of how much more relaxed the regulations are in Maine for making and selling your own fresh and aged cheese and cured meats, which is so much more difficult to do here - legally.
The highlight of our trip (for me and probably me only) was a guided trip inside the Carroll Family homestead on Mt. Desert Island. A generous park ranger had told my grandparents if they ever had family in town that wanted to see inside, he would show us inside the homestead, which is usually only opened for family reunions and special occasions, and he held true to his word. Let me back up a bit, The Carroll family homestead was built by my great, great, great, great grandpa; John Carroll, who moved into it with his wife and their young family in 1825. He had immigrated from Ireland in 1790. It was eventually passed on to his son, Jacob Carroll and then his son, another John Carroll, who moved out of it with his wife and family in 1917. Eventually it was given to Acadia national park and has been cared for by the park service. To this day visitors and school classes visit the homestead to get a glimpse of what rural Maine life was like. The homestead began witha 21x25 foot dwelling, with a root celar and attic.There was a hand dug well, a kitchen garden, larger vegetable fields, hay fields, a barn and a well. There were usually chickens, sheep, a milk cow or two and a horse. In 1880, they recorded seven acres of tilled land, twenty acres of pasture and meadow and fifty three acres of forest. There were paths down to the ocean as well as a view of the ocean from the yard - which is no longer there as the trees have grown up.
I have grown up fascinated by the Carroll homestead and have visited on a few occassions, but have never been there when the house was open. On this occassion, we got venture down into the root celar, as well as the main floor and even into the attic, precarious with it's rotting boards and spider webs. As you can imagine, I turned this into a homeschooling activity for the kids, with the help of a book that was written about the homestead, called Four Generations in Maine, a Carroll homestead school curriculum written for Maine classrooms, as well as a video taken of my great, great aunt and uncle speaking about life on the homestead. By the end of it all, my kids had their fill of this part of their family history - I on the other hand, can not get enough! Back to my roots, indeed!
Well, after a delightful week with my grandparents, we flew to Florida to visit with my husband's family. We were blessed with another week of warm sunny weather, seventies and eighties and humid! We divided our days between the pool, the beach and the docks, where my husband and son enthusiastically caught blue crabs to take home and eat, while Avery played on the playground with her cousins and I stared at the water entranced by the non stop wave on manitees and dolphins that passed by. We took the week of any indoor learning field trips and just spent as much time in the sun and outdoors as our skin would allow. Getting out early and coming in during the middle of the day to rest before heading back out.
After two weeks of travelling we are happy to be home. It is a winter wonderland here, all frosty and white. I am content to be home and going into winter. I want to do more crafting and baking than is possible in the next five weeks, so it is time to get organized and prioritize. I look forward to sharing pictures of our crafting and advent preparations with you! Happy baking and cooking and giving thanks week to you and yours!!