Conversations with Maine

 
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Carl Little, author of many Maine art books, stands in the Ellsworth Library's downstairs gallery.

Maine’s artistic allure provides endless material for art writer

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 27, 2012, at 10:25 a.m.
“To a landscape painter, Maine is everything,” Carl Little said. The islands, the seaside towns, the deep Maine woods and the great wide ocean, the blueberry barrens and craggy shores, the play of light over woods, waters and mountains — all provide endless inspiration. But it is more than open …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Last year's Christmas party at Highland Pre-School in Hampden. The 30th year of Highland Pre-School Christmas parties will take place next week.

Tradition, community and the funny things kids say keep pre-k teacher going after 30 years

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 14, 2012, at 11:16 a.m.
Hosting Christmas parties for 30 wound-up three and four-year-olds is probably not high on many people’s holiday bucket list. But Tami Campbell is about to do it for the the 30th time in a row, and she’s as excited as ever. Campbell is the owner and director of Highland Pre-School …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Bailey Pagels, who was born prematurely on Oct. 28, is warmed by a hat knit by Phyllis Nodine. Holding her is her mother, Marcie Pagels, who travels from Cutler to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor be with Bailey as often as possible.

Stories of EMMC preemie and 75-year-old woman are knit together

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 06, 2012, at 1:55 p.m.
I have never been a knitter myself, but I have always been intrigued by how knitting seems to link women together. Certainly there is a fellowship among crafters sharing their work, but there is a connection that goes deeper than technique, into the realm of shared love. I have two …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Current students and alumni of all ages rehearsed together the morning of Saturday, Nov. 24, before their evening band performance in Hampden Academy's new Performing Arts Center.

Gala concert celebrates 70 years of grads, 200 years of history

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 29, 2012, at 2:23 p.m.
Hampden Academy’s new 900-seat performing arts center hosted an almost-full capacity crowd — the largest ever by a long shot — on Saturday, Nov. 24. It was not some hot-shot performer that drew the enthusiastic fans. It was more like a giant family reunion — one that included live performances, …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
The members of the Boyd Place Art Committee pose in front of a few works of art that they recently hung on the walls for their current exhibition. They are Jane Burger, left, Nina Jerome, LeeAnne Mallonee, Sarah Clark and Fran Clukey.

Honoring their art

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 15, 2012, at 5:40 p.m.
Three local artists, women with national-level talents and regional connections, have died within the past year. In addition to being great artists, Helen Marie Allen, Margaret Manter, and Mette Arup Watt were active community volunteers, teachers, mentors, wives and mothers. They were also friends of Boyd Place, an independent living …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
On the coast of Greenland, Ian "Greasy" Stewart (from left), Tessa Wood and Sara Carter, the crew of the Wanderbird, display their newly shorn heads after having taken part last summer in the traditional ceremony for sailors who cross the Arctic Circle for the first time.

Arctic adventure forges bonds for the Wanderbird crew

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 08, 2012, at 1:45 p.m.
In a traditional rite of passage for sailors crossing the Arctic Circle for the first time, the three young crew members of the Wanderbird, an expedition vessel based out of Belfast, Maine, took part in a “blue nose ceremony” last summer off the shores of Greenland. The ceremony includes head …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Pakistani teenager Aqsa Munir, exchange student for the 2012-13 school year, enjoyed Columbus Day weekend on the Maine coast.

At home with a Pakistani teenager

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 01, 2012, at 2:55 p.m.
When we heard that a 15-year-old Pakistani girl had been shot by extremists for publicly espousing education for girls, the news hit close to home. Our home, since Aug. 17, has included a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, here in the United States to further her education. Even before Malala Yousefzai’s shooting, …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
During the sixth annual Bangor Book Festival, a roomful of Maine-based and Maine-connected writers gathered at the Bangor Public Library to sign books last Saturday.

Maine writers explore life, celebrate books in Bangor

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 25, 2012, at 1:34 p.m.
There are those who predict the demise of books without concern. For them, Kindles and Nooks have won the evolutionary advantage. Others, like me, are loath to relinquish that feeling of substance when we hold a new book in our hands, that satisfying crinkle of a turning page, that evocative …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Jean Camuso, five peaks shy of completing all 67 of New England's 4,000-footers, stands at the almost-summit of Saddleback Mountain in a surprise October blizzard last week.

October blizzard with a peak-bagging friend

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 18, 2012, at 1:11 p.m.
Since the computer world has co-opted the term “friend,” I’d like to set the record straight on friendship. A real-world friend calls you to join her for a cup of tea. She herds your escaped goats back home with a carrot. She shares her favorite bit of calming maternal advice: …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Geologist Harold Borns in his office at the University of Maine. In front of him on his desk sits one of his proudest accomplishments: Maine's Ice Age Trail, Downeast ecotourism trail map.

84-year-old professor still deep in ice and glaciers

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 11, 2012, at 1:08 p.m.
Flowing north from the Kukri Hills of Victoria Land on the continent of Antarctica, there is a glacier named after geologist Harold “Hal” Borns. Last week I met with 84-year-old professor Borns in his office at the University of Maine. Well before our three-hour chat was done, it was clear …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Children on school vacation enjoy the beach in Toubab Diallo, a town about an hour south of the capital city of Dakar.

Senegal offers amazing journey, new name

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 04, 2012, at 3:57 p.m.
I told a friend of mine that I was going to spend a week in Senegal, a small country on the westernmost edge of Africa. The news sparked a vivid memory for him. He had spent six months in Sierra Leone long ago, but his first experience on African soil …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Science teacher Steve Ressel holding a blue-tongued skink in College of the Atlantic's zoology lab.

One summer of lizards that changed a life

By Robin Clifford Wood on Sept. 20, 2012, at 2:34 p.m.
In the course of interviewing people for this column, I have discovered that many life histories include a pivotal event that changes everything. I recently heard a particularly unusual “pivotal event” from Steve Ressel, who has been teaching science at College of the Atlantic for nearly 20 years. The glorious …
Conversations with Maine
Dick and Barbie Willis take in some well-needed relaxation after Dick's four days in Eastern Maine Medical Center's ICU, after a stroke on a roadless island and a LifeFlight rescue.

From airlift to flight home, Mainers support stroke victim and family

By Robin Clifford Wood on Sept. 12, 2012, at 5:50 p.m.
A couple of weeks ago, my household went into crisis management mode. While vacationing on an island off the coast of Mount Desert, my husband’s erstwhile healthy uncle was airlifted to Eastern Maine Medical Center. Uncle Dick had woken up feeling a bit “off” one morning on that roadless little …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Swan's Island

Swan’s Island not for everyone, just right for a few

By Robin Clifford Wood on Sept. 06, 2012, at 7:26 p.m.
“Swan’s Island is not for everyone.” So opens an essay about Swan’s Island written several decades ago by Peg Bailey, a Swan’s Island real estate agent. Most Swan’s Islanders would agree that Peg’s dubious-sounding promotion remains largely true. The year-round population stands at about 332, a quirky combination of lifetime …
Stephen Hand, Andrew Holt and Dustin Ramsay, three participants of this year's Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program, relax after a swim at Grand Falls, one of the highlights of their nine-day trek through Baxter State Park in August.

Teen’s outdoor leadership bodes well for Maine’s environmental future

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 23, 2012, at 2:51 p.m.
The average age of Baxter State Park users is rising, but those older folks who love the park won’t be able to take care of it forever. That is why the Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program hopes to attract young people who will be stewards of Maine’s outdoors into the …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Donna Wiegle of Swan's Island.

Year-round resident makes life work on Swan’s Island

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 09, 2012, at 4:29 p.m.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows more about the people and places of Swan’s Island than Donna Wiegle, even though she didn’t become a year-round resident until 2002. Maybe it’s because she provides health care at the local clinic. Maybe it’s because Donna has been writer and …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Thom Hope stands in the kitchen of the home he built for himself in the 1980s. The tile set into the stone wall came from Portugal and has been dated back to the 1600s.  Thom and a friend rescued the tile from an old building in Portugal, just before it was taken down by a wrecking ball.

Curiosity key to life of artist, physician

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 26, 2012, at 1:15 p.m.
Thomas Hope is a painter who has had a gallery showing in Spain. He is a sculptor; he does carpentry, brickwork and stonework; he plays piano and guitar and composes music; and he is fluent in three languages, having lived abroad for many years. He designed several houses, including the …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Josh Gray with his deckhand, Ozzie, sit in front the boat that Gray built for his water taxi business, a branch of the Newman and Gray boat building company.

Boat builder finds his calling back home on Great Cranberry Island

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 12, 2012, at 12:25 p.m.
Last Friday I hopped on a boat manned by Josh Gray and his deckhand, a 7-year-old lab named Ozzie. Gray is the captain of “The Cadillac,” a 26-foot water taxi with a lobster boat hull that he built three years ago at the Newman and …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
Ralph Ostlund stands outside his New Sweden home with a restored 1939 truck, a gift from his son.

New Sweden 89-year-old looks back, and looks ahead

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 05, 2012, at 3:51 p.m.
When I asked around about someone interesting to interview in New Sweden, Ralph Ostlund’s name came up — retired potato farmer, avid dancer and cross-country skier, world traveler, citizen of the year, irrepressibly energetic 89-year-old. Ostlund had never heard of me when I called to ask if I could visit …
CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE
People of all ages dress in traditional Swedish clothing for the 2012 New Sweden Midsummer Festival.

A visit to New Sweden sweeps visitor up in the spirit of time and place

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 28, 2012, at 11:42 a.m.
Nearly 30 years ago when I was a teacher in New Hampshire, I met a young woman with an intriguing background. Lisa’s northern Maine hometown sounded like a place of almost mythic remoteness. The fact that she had 106 first cousins only added to the mystique. Our lives overlapped again …
 
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