Maine


Hendrick's Head
Photo by Just-Us-3 used under a Creative Commons license.

Geoffrey Wolff, The Edge of Maine (National Geographic, 2005).
A light stew of travelogue, memoir and history of the coast of Maine, focused mostly on the mid-coast north and south of Bath, where Wolff recently moved after years of visiting the state. Topics include: sailing in fog in the Gulf of Maine; the ill-fated Popham Colony of 1607; tensions between year-round residents, wealthy visitors and absentee landowners; ship-building; Seguin lighthouse; the secrets of lobsters; and the nineteenth-century trade in Kennebec River ice. Wolff doesn’t develop any of these topics enough to make you an expert, but he doesn’t bore, either.

Here is a bio of Wolff. The New York Times ran this brief note about Wolff earlier this year, and this article by Francine Prose about Wolff and his brother, Tobias Wolff, in 1989. Ann Geracimos (The Washington Times) calls the book a more conventional but no less enticing homage to the coast of Maine. Ann Patchett found it riveting. Jennifer found a copy in Blue Hill, Maine, and says it precisely described where she was standing. Here is The Friends of Seguin Island Lighthouse Website. And Snopes debunks a funny story about a nautical encounter that appears in the book.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

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Dawn on the farm
Photo by Richard Robles used under a Creative Commons license.

Terry Silber, A Small Farm in Maine (Houghton Mifflin, 1988).
In the early 1970s, Terry and Mark Silber escaped from their workaday life in Boston to a farmhouse between the villages of Buckfield and Sumner, Maine — north and a little west of Lewiston, and miles from the coast.  Like many weekend gardeners, they planted more than they could eat, and started to sell their produce at a farmer’s market.  Unlike many most gardeners, they decided to abandon their city lives and move to Hedgehog Hill Farm full-time, and to try to support themselves through farming.  To make it work, they grew a retail operation, specializing in seedlings, herbs, and dried flowers.  This is the story of their farm and their business.

Hedgehog Hill Farm’s website is here, though Mark Silber closed it as a business in 2006 (.pdf).  Terry Silber passed away in 2003. AnnMarie (nee Paulukonis — see below) recommends the book to people starting a homebased business. Here is a recommendation from aletheia.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

VIKING SAT-NAV
Photo by Niffty used under a Creative Commons license.

Calvin Trillin, Runestruck (Little, Brown, 1977).
When two gas station attendants find what appears to be a Viking runestone while clamming, a (fictional) small Maine town goes agog with Viking enthusiasm. Berryville is set to lay claim to be the site of America’s first Nordic colonists, although there are some skeptics, too. A comic novel, including some fine faux country-music lyrics.

Little about Runestruck on the web, but there is much Trilliniana. Here is Wikipedia’s entry about Calvin Trillin. Sue Russell wrote this entry about him for the St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Dave Weich interviewed Trillin for Powells. Here is an appearance on Charlie Rose.

Buy this book at Amazon.com.