LOBSTER ON THE MENU — SHARING MAINE

This will be a blog of few words —

I am back in New Jersey, still enraptured by this flawless visit in Maine with my sister and our (formerly) Toledo cousins

We were treated to five entire days of unconditional love, in Margy and Peter’s new home on Casco Bay.

At home, we were surrounded by towering pines and firs.  We found last roses (salt spray) of summer, and tasted last blueberries.

We walked among ever-burgeoning seaside goldenrod.

We were treated to memorable hikes, sentimental journeys, even kayaking the Bay among rockweed garlands (a first), in sea wind and waves.  Heaven on earth.  I’ll do this first blog post on our lobster feast — setting the scene in all ways:The three cousins - my sister, Marilyn Weitzel, Sally Lee and Margy CowgillMy Chicago sister, Marilyn Weitzel with Sally Lee and Margy Cowgill

An Ebullience of Buoys

An Ebullience of Buoys -(pronunced Bew-eez)

Maine Lobster Workboat

Maine Lobster Workboat

Parking for Dick's Lobsters

Parking for Dick’s Lobsters

Lobster Shanty

Morse Lobster Shanty

Maine Lobster Gear, Newagen

Maine Lobster Gear, Newagen

LOBSTERS

LOBSTERS

Lobsters Everywhere!

Lobsters Everywhere!

Enough Rope

Enough Rope

Bringing In the Catch

Bringing In the Catch

A Good Lobster Morning

A Good Lobster Morning

Another Catch, Same Morning

Another Catch, Same Morning

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh

Farmer-to-Table

Farmer-to-Table

NATIVE

NATIVE

First Pumpkins

First Pumpkins

First Macs of Maine

First Macs of Maine

Still Fresh Green Beans of Maine

Still Fresh Green Beans of Maine

Price of Spice in Maine

Price of Spice in Maine

Wicked Joe, Specialty of the Market

Wicked Joe, Specialty of the Market

Local, Right this way -- Market Sign

Local, Right this way — Market Sign

Crabster

Crabster

Serious Corn

Serious Corn

Sally Lee (cousin) and Peter Cowgill, host, shucking corn

Sally Lee (cousin) and Peter Cowgill, host, shucking corn

Peter and the Corn

Peter and the Corn

Margy and the Bib

Margy and the Bib

Crowning Glory

Crowning Glory

Table Ready for Feast

Table Ready for Feast

FEAST

FEAST

Cousins in the Kitchen

Cousins in the Kitchen

Maine FFisherman Painting that reminds me of Milton Avery, 21st Century Version

Maine Fisherman Painting — Milton Avery qualities — 21st Century Version

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WHAT ARE THE PINE BARRENS

Chatham Bogs, Constable Skies

Chatham Bogs, Constable Skies

A Princeton Garden Club has asked me to speak and show pictures on the Pine Barrens.  I have written my talk, with all its logistical details.  But my experience of the Pines is an idyllic region, dreamlike in beauty and Productivity.  It is currently seriously imperiled (five PIPELINES are poised to thread their way through the ‘Barrens’ as we ‘speak’, and our governor is all FOR THIS DESTRUCTION, 17-trillion gallon aquifer of America’s finest waters and acres beyond counting of flammable pines or not.)

This is a typical scene along Route 563 near Chatsworth, the Heart of the Pines.

Marilyn Schmidt, Savior and Proprietress of Buzby's General Store in Chatsowrth

Marilyn Schmidt, Savior and Proprietress of Buzby’s General Store in Chatsowrth

This is my long-time friend, Marilyn Schmidt, former scientist, former realtor, former tax assessor, author, publisher, illustrator, and keeper of the Heart of the Pines.  To learn more about the historic role of Buzby’s, which she saved in a tax sale and had named to the New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places, read John McPhee’s legendary The Pine Barrens.

Tomasello Windery Store at Smithville, above Atlantic City

Tomasello Windery Store at Smithville, above Atlantic City

The Pine Barrens even have their own winery, Tomasello’s, an outlet of which is visible from the Bakery at Smithville, near the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, where NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I go all the time for major birding experiences.

An exquisite lake is Lake Oswego, ideal for kayaking, ringed with evergreens and marvelous wild plants, right down to the water.

Here's How the Brig (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge) looked shortly after Hurricane (by any other name) Sandy!

Lake Oswego shortly after Hurricane (by any other name) Sandy

As the autumnal equinox approaches, I think of equinotical storms, not the least of which was the infamous Sandy.  Our state is still recovering.  Although the Brigantine and Lake Oswego and Scott’s Landing and Leed’s Point are very near Atlantic City, where Sandy came ashore — these are tough places, home of salt-of-the-earth people, and they were back on their feet remarkably soon.  Here are a few images that give only the slightest clue as to what the land and the people endured, from what they have recovered:

No Picnic Today,, Lake Oswego After Sandy

No Picnic Today,, Lake Oswego After Sandy

Brigantine Wildlife Refuge Closed by Hurrican Sandy

Brigantine Wildlife Refuge Closed by Hurricane Sandy

Barricade Realities, Brigantine After Sandy Chewed the Dike Road

Barricade Realities, Brigantine After Sandy Chewed the Dike Road

Foot Access Only

Foot Access Only

Raccoons Survived Sandy

Raccoons Survived Sandy

Wildlife Drive Taped Off

Wildlife Drive Taped Off

Scotts Landing Survived Sandy

Scotts Landing Survived Sandy

Scott's Landing Looking Due East

Scott’s Landing Looking Due East

We Survived Sandy - Tasha O'Neill's Traditional Christmas Picnic at Scott's Landing

We Survived Sandy – Tasha O’Neill’s Traditional Christmas Picnic at Scott’s Landing

And always a final visit to idyllic Leed’s Point, which lost many buildings, but kept its working fishing village spirit despite all.

What Remains at Leeds Point After Sandy

What Remains at Leeds Point After Sandy

One of the Signs and One of the Buildings We Lost at Leed's Point

One of the Signs and One of the Buildings We Lost at Leed’s Point

What the Pine Barrens are All About -- After the Harvest

What the Pine Barrens are All About — After the Harvest

All of this beauty survived one of the most savage storm in recorded United States history.  Only to fall, now, in 2015, to the forces of politics and greed.

“Friendship… blendship…” Hunterdon County Farm Supper at Summer’s End

Rawlyk Farm and Pond View at Evening by Jeanette Hobban

Rawlyk Farm and Pond View at Evening

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that one of the key joys of my life now is the intensity of friendship, especially among people with whom I have (1) helped save the planet, particularly wild New Jersey; and (2) birded!  Especially birded under trying conditions and won through.

Towering Joe Pye Weed, Rawlyk Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Towering Joe Pye Weed, Rawlyk Farm

You’ve read about “The Intrepids” in these ‘pages’, especially in the teeth of that Nor’easter a year ago in Island Beach – (you can search for Island Beach in Archives and re-read that adventure.) This is a night when no one needed to be intrepid — a time of exquisite fellowship, merriment — a treasured reunion, in a place significantly restored for Nature’s purposes.

Restored Outbuilding, Rawlyk Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Restored Outbuilding, Rawlyk Farm

Recently, Bill Rawlyk created a nearly impromptu farm supper on his (he is third generation) Hunterdon County farm.

Tiger Swallowtail in Heaven, Restored Rawlyk Farm, Hunterdon County

Tiger Swallowtail in Heaven, Restored Rawlyk Farm, Hunterdon County

Scott Sheldon, who had invented the role of Director of Development at D&R Greenway some years back, was in town for a rare visit.  Jeanette Hooban, my cherished ex-office mate at the same establishment, drove me out there immediately after work on a weeknight.  Unbeknownst to us, dear Mary Penney, now head of Bucks County Audubon at Honey Hollow, and her delightful, hail-fellow, well-met husband Geoff, came over after their workdays to surprise us.  Edith Rawlyk, (Bill’s very sweet mom (who used to create home-made pies, especially from blueberries of the farm, and send them in with Bill, Edith, who worked often at my side on complex logistical matters) was sitting in a wooden rocker on the porch as we arrived, smiling that smile we all cherish.  Bill’s at Open Space Institute now, merely saving the Delaware River Valley.  Jeanette brilliantly manages events for Princeton’s Senior Resource Center.

Why Preserve Grasslands, by Jeanette Hooban

Why Preserve Grasslands

As I’ve written before, we’ve all been in the trenches together.  Any moments we can snatch in these complex 21st-Century lives are beyond price.  That night with Bill and his Mom on the farm was simply magical.

Friendship Among the Grasses, by Jeanette Hooban

Friendship Among the Grasses

Summer was at peak.  Bill manages for grassland birds, not only towering flowers, but also ponds, vernal and otherwise.  Once a chicken farm, now it’s a sanctuary, for humans in our experience, as well as for the four-legged, the winged and o, what do the Indians call the snakes and the turtles?

Queen Anne's Lace Reigns at Rawlyk Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Queen Anne’s Lace Reigns at Rawlyk Farm, Punctuated by Buttonbush at the Pond

You all know my own enthusiasm for food (stretching back to having been Director of the Test Kitchen at Tested Recipe Institute, at 500 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, in my twenties).  And that my friends, including The Intrepids, share this enthusiasm.  It will give you some idea of the magnitude of these friendships, that the food, though perfection, was secondary.

Sitting on the rhododendron-surrounded bluestone terrace, catching up, while Bill grilled everything from salmon to hot dogs, sipping Scott’s wine or Geoff’s and Mary’s beer, as sun lowered and the breeze rose, was perfection.

The privilege of eating in a farm kitchen in this day age can neither be described nor measured.  Shrimp appeared and disappeared.  As did various exotic cheeses which had come from far from Hunterdon County.  Tomatoes were sliced and festooed with lively basil.  Bill has the farmer’s perfection touch with corn.  Once out there, he took something to the cornfield, which boiled the water as we picked and husked the corn.  This wasn’t quite that rural, but the foods were divine.

There was laughter.  There was rue.  There were hopes for the future, and plans for birding jaunts — it’s time to celebrate Jeanette’s autumn birthday again.

Our impromptu farm supper couldn’t have been better, and we are the richer for it, forever.

Tiger Swallowtail Where and When it Belongs, Restored Fawlyk Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Tiger Swallowtail Where and When it Belongs, Restored Fawlyk Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Truly Wild, Rawlyk Restored Flowerland

Truly Wild, Rawlyk Restored Flowerland

Wild Beauty, Pre-Supper Walk, Rawlyk Farm

Wild Beauty, Pre-Supper Walk, Rawlyk Farm

Gastronomic Idyll — Barley Sheaf Farm, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

NJWILDBEAUTY readers shared the magic of Carousel Lavender Farm, [‘in’ Mechanicsburg, PA, just east of Doylestown.] That enchanted visit was immediately followed by unexpected delights at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm,.  Located on the south side of 202 beyond Lahaska, when aiming for Doylestown, the word ‘Farm’ may be the greatest understatement, restaurant-and-setting-wise, I have encountered.       [http://www.barleysheaf.com/]

“Les Deux Carolines” – Carolyn Yoder and Carolyn Edelmann at Brunch at Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

Author, editor, Carolyn Yoder, reads us the storied past of the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, at the close of our exquisite meal.

Jeanette's Breakfast, Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

Jeanette’s Breakfast, Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

This capacious room recreates our combined favorite European experiences, especially France, but also the best of the English countryside.

Everything was flawless, especially their food, as you can see.  We were given a superbly attuned waitress, who surpassed herself with each encounter.  She heard me wonder if one could have the (complimentary) mimosa without the orange juice.  This luminous libation instantly materialized.

All afternoon, generosity was the watchword.  Graciousness abounded.  Everyone there was surrounded by excellence, granted the rarest gift of timelessness.

Barley Sheaf Farm Main Building by cfe

Barley Sheaf Farm Main Building by cfe

No, this is not the Loire Valley.  We were eating inside that white sun porch, gazing into gardens that could be Villandry in miniature.  Beyond that, a pool beckons.  Throughout the grounds, guests strolled, readying for a country wedding about to unfold.  Butterflies danced among their healthy flowers.  Photographs later revealed fish and frogs among the lotus blossoms.  No, I am not making this up.

The history of the Inn is threaded with the most famous visitors of the “New Hope Colony” of songwriters, authors, wits, the Algonquin Round Table crowd, in the heyday of that artful county in which we spent our afternoon.  We feasted in the former home of George S. Kaufman, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, including the first for a play.  Ask to read the history, as Carolyn Yoder did.  That electrifying era spun into life around us, in the stillness of the sunlit room.  It’s a boost to one’s own creativity to be there.

Barley Sheaf Farm Grounds with Pool by cfe

Barley Sheaf Farm Grounds with Pool by cfe

White arches welcome to the generous pool.

Happy Tiger Swallowtail Brunch cfe

Happy Tiger Swallowtail Brunch cfe

Ready for the Country Wedding, cfe

Ready for the Country Wedding, cfe

Contented Fish in Lotus Pond cfe

Contented Fish in Lotus Pond cfe

Can You Find the F rog, Lotus Pond, Barley Sheaf, cfe

Can You Find the F rog, Lotus Pond, Barley Sheaf, cfe

Barley Sheaf Motif on Balcony cfe

Barley Sheaf Motif on Balcony cfe

Carolyn Yoder Explores Barley Sheaf Gardens cfe

Carolyn Yoder Explores Barley Sheaf Gardens cfe

Villandry-in-Pennsylvania cfe

Villandry-in-Pennsylvania cfe

Versailles in Bucks County Pennsylvania cfe

Versailles in Bucks County Pennsylvania cfe

Idyllic Barley Sheaf Bridge cfe

Idyllic Barley Sheaf Bridge cfe

Ready to Grill, Barley Sheaf cfe

Ready to Grill, Barley Sheaf cfe

Historic Outbuilding cfe

Historic Outbuilding cfe

Timeless Dining Room, as Brunch Ends cfe

Timeless Dining Room, as Brunch Ends cfe

Contented Guests at Leisure at Barley Sheaf -- Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban cfe

Contented Guests at Leisure at Barley Sheaf — Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban cfe

I wish it were not true, that a picture is worth 10,000 words.  But the mere word, ‘timeless’, does not convince you of our idyll.  I hope you experience it in the above scenes.

One of the frequent guests, Dorothy Parker, was famous for answering her telephone (the heavy dangly black sit-on-the-table with rotary dial one) with, “What fresh hell is this?”  I am often tempted to do likewise.

At The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, though, the phrase must be revised:

“What Fresh Heaven Is This?”

“Fresh Heaven” at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, by Jeanette Hooban