Although Pauline Cooke of Castine has been in this country only 4½ years, there can be little doubt she already has made a tremendous difference in the lives of others, especially those in need along the Blue Hill peninsula.
After hearing a talk a couple years ago about the need to keep the Tree of Life Food Pantry in Blue Hill well-stocked, Pauline told me she decided to do something “to help them get through the winter.”
Last summer, with her husband and a few friends, Pauline hosted the first, free, Castine English Garden Party at her home and, through donations only, raised nearly $6,000.
With that success and the lessons learned from it, Pauline will be host to her second Castine English Garden Party from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at her home and gardens, “The 10th Tee,” 17 Wadsworth Cove Road in Castine.
The event is, again, free.
“We try not to make an admission charge,” Pauline told me in her distinctively English way. “We have only donation cups on tables.
“It’s just too much for a family to have to pay” a set amount per person, she explained, adding, “we want people to come and enjoy” the event.
And while Pauline is the driving force behind this fundraiser, she gets terrific help from husband Rufus, fellow Englishwoman Sylvia Carter, North Carolina transplant and Castine newcomer Carol Adams and Castine resident Al Chelette, along with other church and community members.
“Pauline really does 99 percent of the work,” Carol told me.
“I think she’s been baking for the last six months. She has stuff stored in people’s freezers everywhere, and the last two days before the party, it’s a flurry of activity.”
In fact, Pauline e-mailed Monday to report “we will be making Devon Cream … to go with the scones. It’s a 3-day process, so keep your fingers crossed.”
Devon Cream, known as English clotted cream, is thick with a yellowish tint and is absolutely delicious.
The Cookes have rented, bought and borrowed tents and chairs, and this year hope to comfortably accommodate all who attend.
“Last year we weren’t prepared for the demand,” Pauline admitted of the number who turned out.
“People were queuing up, and we just wanted to get them served as best we could. This year, we’re better organized.”
The fundraiser will offer several other activities, Pauline said, including “darts in the breezeway, croquet on the front garden and bocce on the other side” of the house, which overlooks the Castine Golf Club, hence the title “The 10th Tee.”
Family arrived from Great Britain, not only to help with the event but also bringing “a suitcase full of things” to add to the silent auction.
Puppet Nasruddin and his friend, Richard Merrill of Brooksville, will attend so folks can see what they are bidding on in Nasruddin’s offer of a private performance for the highest bidder.
Other auction items include creative consultations from Barbara Joy Hare, a photographic package from Marian Gonsalves, a wooden kayak, a new variety of day lilies, golf balls from St. Andrews in Scotland and a granite bench.
The barbershop quartet Essex Street Junction and the Castine Town Band will perform, and you can bid on baseballs autographed by Dustin Pedroia and Jeremy Hermida.
But, for many people, the focus will be the authentic British tea, teacakes, scones, clotted cream and other treats Pauline has prepared.
For information, visit www.englishgardenparty.com.
In the course of preparing this column, I also spoke with Rusty Roberts of Blue Hill, current manager of the Tree of Life Food Pantry and the one who gave that talk Pauline responded to.
Rusty told me “we have 1,070 names” on the pantry registry who are residents of the eight towns it serves.
While the number of people regularly using the pantry in the colder months can range from 220 to 289, this summer, perhaps because it has been such a good growing season, it’s about 142.
Another reason Rusty believes the number has dropped is that “we opened our own minifarmers market, with donated veggies,” which has been a real success.
If you cannot attend the Castine English Garden Party, but want to support this organization, send a tax-deductible donation to Tree of Life Food Pantry, P.O. Box 2900, Blue Hill, 04614.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.