Conversations with Maine

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 …
Solitude on the Maine coast in the summer.

Loving our Maine summer, despite the rats in the pantry

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 26, 2014, at 6:09 p.m.
I have never worried much about those little scratchings and scurryings that I occasionally hear from my bed on a summer night. It’s all part of the peaceful soundtrack of summer in Maine. “There goes some cute furry thing, living its little life,” I think to myself, smiling. Last week, …
Rebeckah Perry sings the national anthem for a Portland Sea Dogs game in 2010.

Star-Spangled Banner opens ballparks for Presque Isle woman

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 01, 2014, at 7:45 a.m.
Rebeckah Perry sings the national anthem like it’s her job, because, well, it is. At least, it’s one of her jobs. She’s quick to tell you that her primary job is being a mom to her two young daughters. She also gives a lot of music lessons, and she just …
The Birch Tree Theater at Windover Art Center in June in Newburgh.

A family’s ties from National Geographic to art in a barn

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 19, 2014, at 1:41 p.m.
“The most satisfying journey is one that is shared.” So wrote award-winning National Geographic photographer and writer Thomas J. Abercrombie, who died at the age of 75 in 2006. Last week I sat in a barn at a well-used art table, surrounded by a variety of whimsical artworks that cover …
Philomena Keller Baker (left) and Kathryn Olmstead (right) worked together on the book about Philomena's remarkable memoir of living through World War II and beyond.  They got together last week to talk about their shared project and the inspirations behind the work that they did together.

Maine woman who survived World War II as a child honors her mother

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 04, 2014, at 7:04 a.m.
Everybody has a story to tell. Some stories are deeply moving, thought-provoking, or even life-changing. Sadly, as generations age and die, most of those stories disappear into a fog of forgetting and remain untold. Not so with Philomena Keller Baker, who will celebrate her 80th birthday in a couple of …
Participants in the Wood family's ice cream blind taste test fill out their assessment forms at a recent event.

California ice cream gets blind taste test in Maine

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 19, 2014, at 11:36 a.m.
A couple of weeks ago, an old college friend asked if I’d like him to send me some free ice cream made by his new company. Is this a trick question? A few days later, eight pints of premium chocolate and vanilla ice cream arrived from California in a FedEx …
Jane Sumner, daughter of Maine artist Arthur Thompson, looks at one of her father's artworks hanging at the Boyd Place Gallery in Bangor.

Maine artist’s daughter adds back story to canvas

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 06, 2014, at 2:56 p.m.
Hey everybody — do you know that you have lifetime free admission to a local art gallery? Thanks to Boyd Place’s ambitious art committee, the Boyd Place Gallery has just hung another terrific exhibition, as it does three times a year. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 …

Readers respond to ‘My mother’s choice to die’

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 28, 2014, at 2:24 p.m.
Last month I wrote a column titled, “ My mother’s choice to die.” I was nervous about it — first, because I’d never published anything quite so personal; second, because I thought the idea of making active choices at the end of life might go against some people’s beliefs. The …
Connie Carter, founder of Operation Breaking Stereotypes, at an event in Orono in this file photo.

Maine native forges ties by breaking stereotypes

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 08, 2014, at 12:30 p.m.
It isn’t so strange to imagine a bunch of Maine high school students taking a class trip to New York City, but it might sound strange to hear that the trip will mean attending school with and living in the homes of a bunch of inner city teenagers. And it …
Mary Lawrence Clifford, mother of columnist Robin Clifford Wood, died at her home on March 15, 2014.

My mother’s choice to die

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 25, 2014, at 1:39 p.m.
The story I’d like to tell today did not take place in Maine. Since it is a story about dying, however, the lessons are universal. I haven’t published for about a month because I went to New York to be with my parents when my mother’s health took a sudden …
Jeanette Beaton, 94, of Bangor, has traveled to 105 different places around the world.  She attended the Iditarod in Alaska for the eighth time in 2011.

94-year-old globetrotter recalls 105 journeys

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 25, 2014, at 4:23 p.m.
Jeanette Beaton, born in Moscow, Maine, in 1919, has visited all 50 states plus more than 50 provinces, territories, islands and countries around the world. Her specialty is northern climes. She has attended Alaska’s Iditarod eight times, spent the night at Sweden’s Icehotel, ridden the Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow, Russia, …
Mark Hathaway, survivor of "locked-in syndrome," sits in his Litchfield home in this February 2014 photo.

Maine native hopes to inspire, educate after surviving coma, ‘locked-in syndrome’

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 11, 2014, at 5:27 a.m.
In September 1980, a sudden, devastating illness left 24-year-old Mark Hathaway in a coma for six weeks. After regaining consciousness, Mark spent another six weeks fully aware of his surroundings but unable to move, blink or even breathe for himself. And yet, he’ll tell you how fortunate he feels to …
Travis Baker, playwright of award winning "One Blue Tarp," at his home in Orono.

Playwright’s award-winning Maine play comes to Penobscot Theatre

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 28, 2014, at 12:45 p.m.
Travis Baker may be from away, but he has made diligent efforts to understand the essence of his new home state. In his award-winning play “One Blue Tarp,” which has its world premiere at Penobscot Theatre this week, he seeks to represent an authentic Maine: its people, culture and conflicts. …
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