If you remember a while back I posted a little photographic journey through a residency program I did last summer. I called it a “Mid-Winterlude,” but the program, now in its second year, is actually called Hewn Oaks.
The big news is that TONIGHT is the application deadline for this summer, so get on it it you haven’t! Writers, visual and performing artists, musicians, filmmakers, craftspeople! If you live in Maine at least 50% of the year, are not in school and are 21+, you too could bask in the glory that is a sweet cabin of your own on Kezar Lake for a week.
Website and additional info here: hewnoaks.org/
You should. He’s the best longboarder in the state of Maine, and every time someone mistakes us for brothers I take it as a compliment. Pete Miller, folks! PETE MILLER.
Way too busy lately and WW&W is feeling it. Sorry for the lack of posts, getting back on it soon! Now, for your viewing pleasure, if you’ve ever read any of my stuff about mussel farming, this little ditty will show you what it actually all looks like. Go get some today and support this super sustainable family business and Portland’s working waterfront.
Wool. Wood. Whiskey. I started this blog a little more than five years ago, mostly as an outlet for my writing and as an expression of my interests — on the internet and out in the world beyond. From there it’s taken on a shape of its own design, fanning out along vast, varied and sometimes random corollaries in directions that sometimes even I can’t predict.
Recently I realized that what it’s really about is the search for a different kind of life. One that’s simple and timeless, rich and true: The Good Life. Greater minds than mine have whiled away days in the pursuit of it, seeking the same kinds of things. It’s a tradition of sorts, the idea that it’s possible to cut away all that’s unnecessary and get back-to-basics while soaking up the best things in life.
Time. Fun. Meaning. Adventure. Dirt under your fingernails. Sea salt on your skin. Freedom. Rope swings, fire pits, good hard work, epic meals, winter surfing, road trips, music in the morning, the wind in the trees.
Call it what you want — I’m convinced it’s out there, and this is my search.
Sometimes there are things that you talk about doing forever. They never really get done, maybe because what you really need is a good excuse to get out there and see them through. That’s how we were with booking a yurt out in the mountains of western Maine — obviously a good idea, but it took some sharp spurs to get us out there.
The spikes in our sides ended up being my birthday, always right at the end of March when you really want it to be spring but it usually just isn’t. Mud season. 40 degree days. These things beg for a break from reality.
This trip out to Frost Mountain Yurts was just that: a 24-hour daydream in which we had the wood stove, fire pit, porch and room for the dogs to roam around that we always fantasize about.
That all those things ringed a perfect, beautifully circular home under the trees was almost too much. Just what is it about these tiny structures that’s so neat? They’re like the house version of a Chemex: kind of unnecessary, but just so amazing to behold that you instantly want one.
The whole thing was an amazing surprise. I left the house with no idea of where we were headed, I just knew that I was surrounded by my favorite people and we were in for some fun. That I dressed to match both the color of the yurt itself and the 12-pack we picked up along the way was pure coincidence.
Yes, it was snowy, but with so many relaxation apparati around we kept warm by moving from deck chairs to fire pit to hammock and back again. The place literally has everything you could ever want, minus a peeling point break in the front yard.
Inside, old faithful waited for us, issuing a open invitation to stoke’er up and kick back under the yurt’s skylight. That alone fulfilled my one request for a birthday destination: somewhere with a wood stove.
In situations like this, it’s important to keep your energy up for maximum relaxation. Keeping plenty of chicken liver mousse and fresh, homemade bread on hand is always a good idea, but in this instance it was particularly crucial.
Initially, I was led to believe there would be skateboarding involved in the weekend, hence the worst footwear selection of all time. Apparently I forgot where I was for a minute, lost in some hallucinatory springtime day dream, because I totally forgot to even bring boots. Rookie move.
As the sun went down it was still a little cool out, even with a fire pit at our disposal. It was hard to go in though. Sitting there, white rabbiting as the wind swirled around our gully kingdom (if only for a night) made the evening.
Or was it that this guy was waiting for us inside? Pork. Shoulder. Milk. Lemon. Sage. Braise. For. Real.
We pretty much had to pry these guys out of the woods, but when they finally did come inside they did what all good dogs do: pass out with every ounce of their being, right by the fire.
The sun set. We ate food and filled the stove. Smoke puffed out the chimney and away down the valley, back toward reality. For one night, one birthday, this place was ours — and here’s to many more.
There’s just something so right about a good shed roof. Simple, versatile, great for skiing off of into deep snow and nice to look at, too.
That singular angle, it’s perfect. Cabins, modest homes, whatever — the shed roof has you covered. Then again, as long as something looks even vaguely like a cabin, I’m pretty ok with it.
It’s kind of far from the weekend for this kind of talk, I know — sorry about that, but see, there’s this thing we surfers do when we’re looking at waves but we can’t surf them. It’s called “mind surfing,” and basically just involves putting yourself there, on the face of some amazing wave that’s just out of reach. Henceforth, I’d like to introduce the notion of “mental cabining.” Pretty much the same thing, you just retreat to a cabin of the mind for bit.
A little less than 18 months ago I started writing a book. It’s about the pursuit of the good life, otherwise known in these parts as the back-to-the-land movement.
Is it still out there? Can you really achieve it? These are the things I wanted to know, and those questions have taken me all over the great state of Maine. I’ve sought out and seen second generation back-to-the-landers on homesteads, farms and everything in between (there is a difference, but where the dividing line lies is up for debate), and learned a lot about what it takes to live outside the box and away from urban areas. It’s all happening out there in plain sight and the trips I’ve made in the past year and half have helped me to form my own opinions about whether or not you can actually get away from it all in this day and age.
These shots are from my final photo trip for the book, completed last Thursday. 366 miles in one twelve hour day, up to the Blue Hill peninsula and back. If there were waves there, I’d move up in a heart beat. I’ve heard shadows of rumors about mysterious peaks poking their heads out between the offshoots of land and islands, but I’ll believe it when I see it — preferably underneath my own two feet, moving down the line at a brisk pace.
I guess I should walk the walk when it comes to voting for the best parts of life and people here in Portland. Here’s my list from the Phoenix’s Best Of (to everyone outside Maine and elsewhere around the world, the Phoenix is our local alternative weekly), VOTE HERE:
Space Gallery — I’m a little biased, my wife runs the joint.
Bubba’s — I mean come on, the light up dance floor?!
Nickelodeon — That we still have a movie theater in the center of town that does deals on Tuesdays is a minor miracle.
I guess I gotta go with the Children’s Museum, which seems cool.
Alicia Eggert — She’s legit, blowing it up around the world and we’re lucky to have her here.
Nan’l Meikeljohn — Are you kidding me? The Bearded Lady? Get a better drink it town, I dare you.
Garbage to Garden — It took a bunch of motivated kids in their 20s getting together to make city-wide compost pickup a reality in this town. They’re organized and super-professional, and yeah, composting makes you feel real good.
WoolWoodandWhiskey.com — Heard of it? Good, then vote early and vote often.
Common Ground Fair — MOFGA’s OG celebration of rural living, what’s not to like?
No Tar Sands — Tons of lost habitat and still not a real energy solution? No thanks.
Maine Huts and Trails — BOOM! Wilderness.
The Telling Room — Write it in!
I’m just going to skip all the “Best Bagel/Beer Selection” — always the same characters there.
Petite Jacqueline — Write it in, then go try it. No wait and a killer deal on a beastly amount of food.
Petite Jacqueline — Write it in again! Best burger in town by a long shot, on a fresh brioche bun, topped with Gruyere? Not THAT is a $13 hamburger? Don’t even talk to me about any of the other options.
Rosemont — Jared’s got the fer real chops (pun intended). House charcuterie and rabbit hotdogs smoked out back!
Chad Conley — The consummate local journeyman cook turned no-bullshit chef at Gather in Yarmouth. Best dude in the area to work for, and not afraid to step out on a ledge, whether that means cooking pop-up dinners or putting me in charge of coming up with specials from time-to-time.
Tandem — The best thing to happen to Portland since salt air.
Portland Farmer’s Market — We’ve got not one farmer’s market each week, but TWO. Never forget that.
Pai Men Miyake — Tired of ramen yet? I didn’t think so, me either.
I’m going to skip a bunch here, the restaurant ones are always so redundant.
CLOTHING – MEN
Portland Trading Co. – One word, er… name: KAZEEM
Allen & Walker — I’ve bought an appalling amount of stuff from those guys, the place is like a museum with reasonable prices.
Do WW&W a solid and vote here: http://contests.thephoenix.com/thebest/portland/2013/votes#City
© 2013 Wool Wood & Whiskey | Theme by Eleven Themes