Conversations with Maine


Bidding goodbye to Conversations with Maine

By Robin Clifford Wood, Special to the BDN on Sept. 12, 2015, at 7:50 a.m.
Editor’s Note: Bangor Daily News columnist Robin Clifford Wood has decided that it’s time to move on from her column, Conversations with Maine. Robin has taken us into the lives and homes of Mainers for five years, showing us the connections between people, their communities and their passions. As she …

Thorndike woodworker devoted to sustainability

By Robin Clifford Wood, Special to the BDN on Sept. 05, 2015, at 2:52 p.m.
Kenneth Copp is a man who feels driven to discover the truest path to right living and to responsibly use Earth’s natural resources …
John Jemison, founder of the Orono Community Garden, carries a bunch of recently harvested garlic to the food gathering area behind Orono's senior center.  The garlic would become part of that week's food delivery to local senior citizens.

Orono community garden a model to emulate

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 15, 2015, at 3:12 p.m.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a quiet garden plot was transformed into a bustling, multi-generational, community-service project behind the senior center in Orono. A dozen or so volunteers, some of them in wheelchairs, showed up to harvest onions, squash, garlic and beans and prepare them for delivery. They filled 57 …
The last of Glendarragh Farm's 2014 crop hangs in an old restored barn on the property of owners Lorie and Patrick Costigan.

Maine’s only lavender farm carries scents of history

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 04, 2015, at 5:59 a.m.
The scent of lavender permeates the lives of the Costigan family. Whether at their Appleton farm called Glendarragh or browsing their retail store in Camden, that soft, heady, complex, tantalizing aroma of various lavenders weaves its tendrils around your imagination. This aromatic herb has a long history in human civilization. …
Chris and Jill Packard, on their backyard farm in Hampden.

Hampden family’s DIY-energy undaunted by challenges

By Robin Cifford Wood on June 21, 2015, at 6:02 a.m.
The most recent surprise Chris and Jill Packard confronted on their 3-acre homestead in Hampden came from their new Ancona ducks. “They are very messy. They get a mouthful of food, walk over to their water, shake their heads around and spew food all over the place,” Chris told me …
Jennifer Sapiel Neptune (right) poses with Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis at his inauguration ceremony in 2014.  Jennifer created the headdress, collar and cuffs by hand, a reproduction of Penobscot artifacts from 1870 that are part of the collection at Orono's Hudson Museum.

Anthropologist artist brings Penobscot artifact to life

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 05, 2015, at 1:44 p.m.
Jennifer Sapiel Neptune — artist, anthropologist, educator and member of the Penobscot Nation — has integrated her myriad skills to intertwine the past and the present, giving life to the future of her community. Her most recent reproduction from Penobscot history was a ceremonial headdress, cuffs and a collar, hand-decorated …
One of the illustrations that will appear in the book, "Believe in Miracles," a collaboration by Joyce Pomeroy, owner/operator of the Last Stop Horse Rescue; Susan Mullaney, director of marketing and communications for the University of Maine Alumni Association; and artist Deb Lindsay.

Stories from Last Stop Horse Rescue to become a book

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 23, 2015, at 12:50 p.m.
From a small farm in remote Prentiss, one woman’s gentle devotion to animals is reverberating in widening circles of hope across the state and beyond, benefiting multiple species, including humans. The first part of my report on the Last Stop Horse Rescue introduced the extraordinary relationship between owner Joyce Pomeroy …
Joyce Pomeroy, of Last Stop Horse Rescue, gets some love from her furry friend, Denali.

Inside the Last Stop Horse Rescue in Prentiss

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 09, 2015, at 7:02 a.m.
Joyce Pomeroy lives alone on a 20-acre farm in Prentiss. Well, not exactly alone. Her resident family includes 28 horses; six cats; three dogs, one of them blind; a dwarf goat named Sophie; and Annabelle, the orphaned lamb. You might think that sounds like chaos, but it is quite the …
Eddie Harrow, retired pulmonologist and skilled woodcarver, works on a large woodcarving project in his home workshop in Dedham.

From the Bronx to medicine to Maine woodworker

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 25, 2015, at 6:43 a.m.
Scenes of potato harvests, clam digging, woods and wildlife are the themes of Eddie Harrow’s woodworking. The Dedham resident’s intricate carvings have been displayed across the area in places including Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Pediatric Cancer Center, the Brewer Community School, the Penobscot Courthouse, and Congregation Beth-El. But behind the …
Robert Sypitkowski, who went from a career in theater design to a career as an environmental engineer, talked about his international work on water systems for regions in crisis last week at his home in Bangor. He will be a guest speaker at the HOPE festival in Orono on April 25.

International volunteer from Bangor to speak at HOPE fest

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 07, 2015, at 5:08 p.m.
Ten years ago in April 2005, Robert Sypitkowski was granted a six-month leave of absence from his job at the Department of Environmental Protection to assist in water system and sanitation improvements in Indonesia, in a region that had been devastated the December before by the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami. …

24-year-old ski director calls Mt. Abram a second home, place to aid young skiers

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 24, 2015, at 8 p.m.
While most of us are longing for winter to end, there are some who relish every snowy weekend. For me, a passion for downhill skiing is a long-forgotten part of youth. Early this month, however, the 24-year-old director of the Mt. Abram ski race program reminded me of that passion …
Robin Clifford Wood

Senior housing volunteer finds outlets for art throughout life

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 10, 2015, at 6:16 p.m.
In most cases, I know where my columns are headed before I begin. Then there are the surprises that take me to entirely unexpected destinations. I met with Cheryl Beitzel last week to talk with her about her volunteer work teaching crafts to residents at the Phillips-Strickland House in Bangor. …
In this recent photo, Beth Haines, part of the family at Fisher Farm in Winterport, prepares a hot lunch in the kitchen of the cabin that she and Dennis Fisher built for themselves and their daughter.

‘Learn to value what you have’: Maine couple choose farm life, have no regrets

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 24, 2015, at 5:44 p.m.
I have known Dennis Fisher and Beth Haines since my family purchased a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share at Fisher Farm in 2011. That also was the year that Dennis and Beth’s daughter Jane was born. So I’ve been witness to the growth and blooming of more than flowers and vegetables …
Seen is a view of the coast near the town of Howth, Ireland.

The Irish are generous with their stories

By Robin Clifford Wood, Special to the BDN on Jan. 27, 2015, at 12:42 p.m.
It has been a week since I returned from Ireland, but a part of me is still lingering in Irish time, waking up in the pre-dawn light, sleepy by 8 or 9 in the evening. Ireland’s influence promises to linger much longer in other ways. First, there was the transformative …
Mary Lawrence Clifford, mother of columnist Robin Clifford Wood, died at her home on March 15, 2014.

End of the year thoughts about the end of life

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 30, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
Here we are at the end of 2014, and you can feel that familiar buzz of hopeful anticipation. A new year is about to begin, and who doesn’t love to celebrate a new beginning, a new birth? But December 31 isn’t only about beginnings. It is a place to recognize …
Rolfe Richter, a Passamaquoddy flute player and flute maker from Perry, Maine, holds one of his handmade wooden flutes.

Passamaquoddy musician lets each flute “tell its own story”

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 16, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
Rolfe Richter is a 45-year-old Passamaquoddy musician whose flute music led to our meeting about a year ago at the annual Maine Indian Basketmakers sale at the Collins Center in Orono. Rolfe, who is from Perry, is a quiet man. If he hadn’t picked up one of his handmade wooden …
Katie and Allen Schaffer sit together on a fish bench, one of many unique artistic touches in the Bangor home, which they have fully renovated together.

Bangor couple’s creative home highlights bacon and eggs

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 11, 2014, at 7:48 a.m.
It surprises people who meet Katie and Allen Schaffer that they have only been together for about nine years. “People think we’ve been together forever,” said Katie. Perhaps that’s because they both seem to have endless reserves of energy when it comes to creative endeavors, and they both love to …
Bob Tweedie of Westfield sits at the desk where he spent about seven years writing the book "Events."

Westfield man’s stories bring history to life

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 21, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.
Tired of robocalls and negative political ads? I have an antidote. Get yourself a copy of “Events,” Bob Tweedie’s self-published book of stories about life in Maine and beyond. It may restore your enthusiasm — if not for politics, perhaps for human nature. “You’ve got to write this stuff down!” …
Bruce Brown tries out the sail on his handmade boat for the first time, off the dock at the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine.

Retired pediatrician turns to boatbuilding

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 07, 2014, at 5:05 p.m.
Long journey or lawn chair, work or play, I hope everybody got to enjoy the outdoors during that exquisite stretch of September days. My favorite day of the bunch was when I traveled to the coast for the first launching of the Lydia Bailey, a wooden boat built by retired …
Meghan Ireland, 7, and her dog Tanner, who "rehabilitated" Meghan from her fear of canines.

Hampden ‘dog whisperer’ applies passion, teaching skills to help daughter overcome fear of canines

By Robin Clifford Wood on Sept. 09, 2014, at 4:31 p.m.
Some theorize that the domestication of dogs goes back 32,000 years. That idea won’t surprise lifetime dog owners, but for mother and educator Julie Ireland, the special bond between dogs and humans was a recent revelation, and it has changed her life. “You should meet Julie Ireland,” a friend of …