Sunday, July 5, 2009

"You Cahn't Get Theyah From Heeah" – A Visit to the Pine Tree State

Every year we have a reunion of Nancy’s side of the family somewhere around the country. Given the size and dispersion of the large and growing Brown clan, there is no single place that works well for everyone, and our past annual gatherings have been in a wide variety of locations across the country.

This year the family meeting was held at the Inn by the Sea, a resort in Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland, Maine. It was a beautiful location, although unfortunately, as can be seen from the following photos taken from our room on successive mornings, the weather was not very cooperative. If anyone was watching the US Open being played on Long Island, a bit south of us, you will get the idea.

Of our four sons, only Patrick was able to make the meeting this year, but there was a good turnout from the other family members and it was good to see everyone.

Although a good deal of time was spent at the Inn, we did manage to make it up to Freeport, a bit north of Portland, one day to visit the LL Bean mothership store, as well as some of the other high-end retail outlets which are clustered around LL Bean in downtown Freeport.

Pat and I even happened to be caught in a photo which appeared on the front page of the Portland Press Herald while we were there (see two non-descript individuals on the far right of the picture, obviously not contributing to the Maine economy).

As far as food goes, one of the high points was our visit to the Two Lights Lobster Shack just a couple of miles north of the Inn – reputed to be one of the best places in Main to get lobster rolls and fried clams. We tried both and they were excellent.

Maine is Boston Red Sox country and Pat and some friends took in a game one afternoon at Hadlock field, the home of the Portland Sea Dogs, one of the Red Sox farm teams. The field even sports a mini-“Green Monster,” just like at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox theme continued that evening at our dinner at Joe’s Boathouse in South Portland.

One of the most memorable activities of the trip was a trip we took one evening on the schooner Wendameen from the Portland Harbor to Cow Island, one of the islands in Casco Bay.

There we had a proper Maine seafood dinner prepared by the folks from Rippleffect, including lobster, mussels and corn on the cob.

On Monday morning on the way to the airport we met up at Becky’s Diner, a Portland institution, with Sam Van Dam, a college classmate of mine who is an architect in Portland. It was great to see Sam after many years and the breakfast at Becky’s (especially the the grilled blueberry muffins which I tried) was fantastic.

Incidentally, the quote in the title to this post comes from a performance of “Bert & I”, collections of humorous stories reflecting traditional Maine culture and told with a Maine accent, created by the storytelling team of Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan in the 1950s and 1960s. When I was at Harvard in the 1960’s my roommate, Duncan, who was from the Boston area, introduced me to the stories. The above quote is the very Maine-esque punchline in the story “Which Way to Millinocket?", a portion of which can be heard here. A performance by Bob Bryan can be seen here.

On to Pittsburgh for next year’s family gathering!

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