Thursday, January 29, 2009


So far we've been blessed (?) with an honest-to-gosh Maine winter, the kind the locals are saying they remember from way back when. Yesterday dumped another foot of snow onto the foot or more we already had, and along with the snow came window-rattling gales and sleet. Today, though, is sparkly brilliant gorgeous, well into the 20s. I wish we could get out for some x-country skiing, but Rob isn't back until tonight.

Still, Willa, Maisie and I got out to shovel a path to the driveway and show off the mountain of plowed snow in our front yard.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

News in a Small Town

The following items actually appeared in the weekly paper here:

Nonny, known to be the state's oldest cow at 21 years, died recently.

And a woman wrote a column in which she asked if anyone would like to split an order of Guinea hens with her, since they must be ordered in a minimum of thirty, and she doesn't want that many herself.

A new project for a new era

I'm very proud to announce that my Rachel (she is much more than a friend or collaborator or fellow poet or doula or whatever...she's just another category altogether) and I have launched a new project, Starting Today: poems for the first 100 days. Every day for the next 100 days we will post a new poem by a contemporary American poet—a poem written for and during the first 100 days of this new administration. Check it out. It's pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Living here

Mostly we feel like we haven't even had a chance to start living here yet--it took awhile for our stuff to arrive and for us to unpack, and then Rob was on the road for so long, and then his dad died, and now he'll be gone again, and we had that rough snap of subzero temperatures, and switched Willa's school schedule a week after it started, and on and on. We really just want to settle into a routine, to settle in.

But occasionally I have glimpses of small town Maine life here that are so sweet, and I did want to share a bit of that.

For one thing, seemingly no one locks their doors, car or home or otherwise, which I can't get used to (though I will say that not locking one's car door does save precious seconds when running errands in the freezing cold!).

Everyone you pass smiles or nods or waves or otherwise acknowledges one another, whether walking or driving. I can't get used to that either.

The lady at the dry cleaner (the only one in town) and the guy at the cafe that makes amazing wraps and everyone else basically knows everyone who comes into their shop by first name.

It is unbelievably quiet almost all of the time, and the stars and moon are incredibly bright and clear.

Today I met a woman, a yoga teacher/doula mom from Massachusetts, and she's going to teach me how to knit. Because, as she said, I'm the first person she's met in Belfast who does NOT know how to knit. She makes amazing wool pants for her 18 month old. I'm going to try a scarf. I'm very excited.

Our good friend Nicolle, who lives next door with her son Leo and is a homebirth activist and filmmaker, comes over every few days with baked goods: maple scones, a vegan pie. We watched the inauguration together and she brought really good kale.

Something about Belfast makes a person want to make things with their hands, makes a person want to knit and bake and grow food. Once we finally get settled in, I am really looking forward to some cross stitch by the woodstove.

There's also a cheesemaking workshop offered in a nearby town, where in two days I could be making my own chevre and feta from scratch, and a rug hooking workshop I'm also really hoping to take.

Oh, and the cohousing group in town has bought their land and is moving forward, and has plans to try to build a pathway from the land (150+ acres), which is 3 miles out of town, into the downtown, so that, as the organizer said, "the kids could ride ponies into town." Because she and her family just bought two Shetland ponies, which they'd share.

Can you imagine Willa riding a Shetland pony into town?!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Joseph Day Morris, 1940-2009

Rob's dad died. Rob was his only family, and will be heading out to Ohio later this week.

Here he is with Willa last summer when we visited him on our way to Maine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talk about "rusticating"!

Our lovely rented home has no bathtub in the part we're staying in, and Willa vastly prefers a bath over a shower, so I came back to what is becoming my mantra for our time here: What would Maine homesteaders do? And I went searching (online) for an old-fashioned galvanized washtub. No plastic. No parts. Just a steel tub that I hoped would be big enough for a kid.

It came today. It worked really well.

(Maine has always been a place where people "from away" came to get back to nature--the first waves of tourists who came up to hunt and fish with traditional Maine Guides were called "rusticators." Hence, my post title.)

Also today: received a Chanukah gift from Aunt D'vora, who sent the much-requested Colorforms set of Willa's dreams. Willa, who has not been known for her talents at representational art, made this on her first-ever Colorforms try:

I was super-impressed, I must say. And then we had to put all those teeny tiny vinyl pieces away.

Rob's in Louisiana, comes home Thursday. I can't wait for a full week with every member of our family in the same place! It's been, let's see, about three weeks since that happened.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pancakes the way they should be

During the lovely snowfall we're having here today, I made blueberry pancakes.
Almost all the ingredients came from right here in Maine, and I bought them at the co-op which is a few blocks away. And of course it's almost all organic.

The butter is made fresh daily in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
The spelt flour was grown and milled through the Crown of Maine cooperative.
The eggs were laid and collected at a farm up the road (don't have the name of the farm here, but it's right near town).
The blueberries were grown and packed at Blue Barrens Farm in Columbia, Maine.
The (sea) salt came from Marshfield. I don't actually know where that is in Maine, but c'mon--the salt is local!
And we topped them off with maple syrup from Kinney's Sugarhouse in Knox, which is just a few miles away.


The views out the back of our house

The sunrise over the bay we can see from our bed every morning.

Our "backyard" in winter.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

One--no, two--more amazing things

Last night as we walked home in the freezing cold from the kabbalat shabbat, Willa said, out of the blue, "Every night when I go to sleep, I think to myself, I am in the universe. And every morning when I wake up, I look out the window and think quietly to myself, I am in the universe."

And tonight there is a full moon, as clear as anything, over the bay, casting light across the water, all of which we can see perfectly from our windows.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our first (incredible) Friday in Belfast

It's been a sort of amazing day.

After we picked up Willa from her Montessori school this morning, we all went to a winter farmer's market held twice monthly during the off-season and bought amazing goat cheese and Vietnamese vegan curry and salsa and fresh pasta, all of which was grown and handmade within miles of where we live, and which we bought from the makers themselves. The chevre is the best we've ever had. Yum.

And at this exact moment, Willa is snug in bed while I type this and Rob is out at a men's group organized by another homebirth dad we've met before, a homesteader, and the group is held at the Morningstar Midwifery offices where I'll be helping out, and where we were earlier today for our first prenatal, which was lovely and low-key, much more about chatting and catching up than anything medical, which is the way it should be. (Maine's state slogan, for those of you who don't know, is "the way life should be." Indeed.)

All my physical stuff is fine--I'm not even anemic, which is sort of amazing, and everything else seems perfectly normal. I'm measuring slightly big for my dates, which is typical for me, and my blood pressure and all that are fine, and the baby's heartbeat was heard. We have another appointment in three weeks. The great thing about homebirth prenatal care (well, one of the great things), especially for a woman expecting her third baby, is that there really isn't much to do or say if things are going well, but it doesn't make for the most exciting reports. Sorry about that!

I meet again with the midwives next week under my other guise as an assistant, hoping to help out in whatever ways they need me to learn more about what they do and be of use.

And we're already meeting so many new folks to interview for my sabbatical project, the oral history of the new back-to-the-land movement here. We were talking about with the midwives about a guy we hope to interview and Ellie whipped out some photos of the recent homebirth of his first daughter, and then found photos of the guy himself as a little kid at the homebirth of one of his younger siblings! As she flipped through the photo album, it was like an alternative phonebook for the town--"oh, here's the woman who runs the craft store, and here's the folks who own the pizza place," etc.

Then after the prenatal we went to a kabbalat shabbat (sabbath celebration) that happened to be held in town through this cool, progressive synagogue in Rockland (about 40 mins away) that holds different events for its members all over the area. The couple whose house it was live 3 blocks away, literally, and are really nice--the wife is from Queens, and I felt right at ease with her right away. All the people there, who included a librarian who lives on an island with about 400 other people and has a 2 yr old, were extremely amazing. One couple, the wife is Jewish and the husband is a former surfer and they live off the grid and have their own organic fish farm and greenhouse. People were asked by the rabbi to share their thoughts about the week and it was very beautiful, ranging from someone who was worried about the war to someone who was happy they went skiing for the first time this winter. Willa said she was thinking about the baby which of course got a big aww. I said how grateful I am to be here and started crying. Sadly, we had to leave early to get Willa to bed and Rob to his men's group--it's quite the social whirlwind here! But we hope to get together with a lot of these people again and exchanged info.

Oh, and sometimes this group has "shabbat in the wild" which is at the home of a couple who was there tonight and apparently involves chanting in a yurt and trekking through the woods by moonlight!

All of which is to say, Belfast in our first week is exactly as we hoped it would be.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year from Maine!

We made it! We're all here! Although right now we're split up, since Rob, Willa and Maisie are in Belfast and I'm down in Freeport teaching at Stonecoast. But tomorrow, barring bad weather (which is indeed predicated, of course), I'll be headed up to Belfast, too, and then we will all be there in our new place, and awaiting the arrival of the truck with our stuff on it.

We'll also have our own Belfast phone number soon (woo-hoo!), so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, we all had a lovely visit with Margy in Brunswick, and now I'm having a wonderful residency at Stonecoast, Willa's started at Cornerspring Montessori, and Rob is busy getting things settled and visiting with the amazing friends we already have in town before he jets off for the Deep South next week (he's working for Louisiana State U.). Louisiana should be quite a change from Maine, and he just got here! Ah, well. By end of January, we should have all our Maine stuff in Maine, all of us together in one house, and everything starting to feel like a new, normal life...just in time for the joys of a Maine February.

And guess what? Two of the Belfast "fab four," a group of women poets in town, are at Stonecoast, and they've invited me to read with them in February, so they can introduce to me further to the town. (Although Rob and I are not sure there's anyone left there that we don't already know!) I'm really honored and touched to be asked to join these amazing women and to be welcomed into the community, and the poetry community, in this way. See how magical Belfast is?!

Pictures of the house and our family altogether to follow...