Christina’s World

We stayed in Camden longer than planned so we could go see the Olson farm that captivated Andrew Wyeth and was the setting for Christina’s World. Inspiration for this painting came when Wyeth, standing in an upstairs window, saw Christina crawling across the field. (Internet photo)

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“The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless,” he wrote. “If in some small way I have been able in paint to make the viewer sense that her world may be limited physically but by no means spiritually, then I have achieved what I set out to do.”  – Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth spent many hours at the Olson farm where Christina and her brother Alvaro lived. Despite a degenerative muscular condition that left her unable to walk or use her hands, Christina was a formidable personality that fascinated Andrew. The house is large and sparse, echoing the feeling that Wyeth captured in over 300 paintings of the Olsons, their home, and the land.

Olson House

Window and Shells Inside

Shells in Window Outside

“In the portraits of that house, the windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost. To me, each window is a different part of Christina’s life.”

Per his wishes, Andrew Wyeth is buried near Christina in the family burial ground not far from the house.

 

Penobscot Marine Museum

We’d heard good things about the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport just north of Camden, and it turned out to be an interesting place to spend a dreary day. Housed in several buidings, it tells the stories of maritime businesses and merchant sea captains that made their homes and fortunes here.  History, art, and interactive exhibits wove a fascinating tale of life on the sea.

Penobscot Marine Museum

Ten percent of the nations merchant sea captains hailed from Searsport in the 19th century, and boat building was a booming business. More recently, controversy erupted when it became apparent that the waters that supplied the fishermen’s livelihood were being overfished. It was finally decided to follow the lead that lobstermen had already employed: throw back the smallest, the biggest, and egg bearing females. Spawning areas were declared off-limits and recovery is underway.

Fishermens gear

Ship models

The museum houses an impressive collection of James and Thomas Buttersworth paintings that attract visitors from all over the world.

Andrew and Betsy Wyeth

Andrew and Betsy Wyeth spent their summers in Maine, where artist and landscape merged and melded. The Olson farm is here, inspiration for over 300 paintings, including Christina’s World. The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland began collecting Wyeth’s work early on, and currently has a special exhibition in honor of his 100th birthday. One of the featured paintings is his 1963 tempera, Her Room, with over a dozen studies displayed around the room that demonstrate his remarkable expertise as a draftsman. We were so enamored with the exhibition that we’ve extended our visit here so we can tour the Olson house on Wednesday. (Apologies for the blue/green glare seen on the painting below.)

Her Room
Her Room1963

Her Room 1

 

 

Olson House
Olson House, 1966

Olson House 1

 

Goodbye, My Love Study
Goodbye, My Love Study2008   Goodbye, My Love was Andrew Wyeth’s last painting.

 

Lee and Mike

Yesterday we met our friend Lee in a coffee shop in Damariscotta before attending the Unitarian service just around the corner. The topic, “Toward a New Understanding of Being Male” was thoughtful and thought provoking.

Lee and Mike
One of the nicest things about traveling is being able to spend time with friends we don’t often see.

Lee’s imaginative artwork fills their home that’s perched over an art gallery and overlooks the bay.

The Gardens
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens offered acres of beautiful and varied landscapes to explore.

 

Labyrinth
Guests are invited to remove their shoes and walk the Reflexology Labyrinth
Children's Garden
Lee playing in the Children’s Garden

J & R

 

Stone wall
New England is a land with plenty of rocks, thanks to the retreating glaciers thousands of years ago. Settlers cleared the land for pastures and fields, leaving 240,000 miles of stone walls scattered throughout New England – about the same distance from the earth to the moon! This wall is probably 200 years old.
Fog Moving In
As we headed to Boothbay Harbor for afternoon refreshments, the fog and tide moved in.

 

 

Sally, the dreamer

Sally and Bill

Sally and I have been friends since 1975 when we both worked at the local newspaper in Skaneateles NY. She and Bill now call Maine home, and today they treated us to lobster at their favorite haunt. Broad Cove Marine Service is a wharf where you buy the cooked lobster, but bring the rest in your picnic basket.

Broad Cove Marine Service (BCMS)

With Sally and friends
Their daughter, Heather and her son Nate joined us for the best lobster we’ve ever tasted.

View of the Bay

Sorting lobsters
While we were there, a lobster boat arrived and we watched them sort and unload.
Lobsters up close
I was struck by the wonderful colors of these amazing creatures.

We’re not ashamed to admit that following our leisurely lobster lunch with Sally et al, we went directly to a lobster dinner sponsored by our campground owners.

Lobster setup (1)

Russ cooking

Dinner!

This past year Sally has taken to writing poetry and is currently working on her second volume.  Opus 89 is her latest offering:

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Katahdin – Russ’ version

1st look at Katahdin
First look at Katahdin
6 a.m. line
6 a.m. the next morning

After leaving Janie at Chimney Pond, I had 2353 feet of elevation gain in 2.2 miles to the summit and 5 hours to make the round trip. Sounded doable. With no sit down breaks, sipping water from my camel-back and only 20 minutes celebrating at the summit, it just barely happened. Rock scrambling, loose rock on steep slide areas made progress, at times, painfully slow, knowing we had to get off the mountain before full darkness.

Saddle Trail
Looking back on Janie’s campsite from the top of the Saddle slide. This leg alone took an hour and 40 minutes, and it wasn’t much faster going down.
Russ at the top
At the top of Baxter Peak, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, fulfilling a long time ambition of mine.
Knife Edge
View of the infamous Knife Edge

Scale of Katahdin

 

Katahdin – Janie’s version

Chimney Pond Trail Sign
The Chimney Pond Trail:  “Strenuous and rocky. 1425 elevation gain in 3.3 miles”

Every once in a while I need to remind myself that mountain climbing just isn’t my thing. It was a beautiful day at Baxter State Park, with another one promised for the following day. Russ was itching to climb Katahdin, but I wasn’t too keen on his going it alone. Hiking part way up with him on the Chimney Pond Trail seemed reasonable.  I’d wait while he summited, and we’d hike back out together. Besides, there was talk of nice views from Chimney Pond, and sometimes it’s worth putting your head down and doing the hard work to get there.

Wilderness Warning

Moose print
What we think was a fresh moose print was the closest we came to seeing the real thing.
Russ feeling fresh
Russ feeling fresh on one of the amazing bridges along the Chimney Pond Trail
View from Chimney Pond
Chimney Pond Campground, enveloped in the arms of Katahdin.
View from the shelter
View from the shelter that was my base camp for the day.  Time passed quickly as I explored the campground, chatted with other hikers, took a nap, wrote in my journal, and listened to a podcast.

We left Chimney Pond with just enough time to get out before dark. Our day had started at 4:15 a.m. and when we got home, we took a quick shower, downed a couple of Advil for dinner and were in bed by 8:30.

Morning on the way to Katahdin
Morning on Togue Pond (as seen from the comfort of the road)