Rock that Beach

IMG_1602 (800x633)

Both Hampton Beach and Salisbury Beach live up to their names in spades, with miles of walkable beach with hardly a speck of seaweed to smoosh your foot upon. No shells or sea glass either. Cottages line the beach and while Hampton Beach provides a mini Wildwood, NJ along the street, Salisbury offers the requisite cheesy liquor stores, fried dough and pizza joints.

The main drag by Hampton Beach

The main drag by Hampton Beach

Remember this Coppertone sign?

Remember this Coppertone sign?

Newburyport proved a lovely surprise and only a ten minute drive down Rte 1. Located on the Merrimack River, it is welcoming to boaters, walkers, shoppers and diners. The attractive waterfront is easy to enjoy; the younger set taking selfies and the older crowd wishing they could.IMG_1538 (800x600)

closed at 8pm but looks like a good place

Well if that isn't Not Your Average Joe's across the street

Well if that isn’t Not Your Average Joe’s across the street

On our must-do list was fried clams at Woodman’s of Essex, MA and lobster pizza at Atlantic Pizza Co. in Rockport, oh and find a beach with sea glass.

Bonus finds were the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Russell Farms, Crane Beach, Halibut Point Park and great sea glass at Loblolly Cove in Rockport. On our way in to Rockport we’d scoped out two likely sea glass beaches; Pebble and Loblolly. Pebble lived up to the name; loaded with smooth multi-sized rocks and pebbles large and small. Nary a shard of glass nor an unbroken shell. But I knew I’d hit pay dirt, aka sea glass heaven, at Loblolly. A man about our age was walking the beach, head bent down and I figured he lived nearby and knew the beach offered something to beach combers.

Loblolly Cove, Rockport

Loblolly Cove, Rockport

He asked what I was looking for and his response was, “I beat you to it.” So you think. He told me that he’d “mined this beach” for years, using the glass to fill lamp bases and other containers to give as gifts. The corner would be the best spot. We started at the corner and worked our way around through the larger rocks with pockets of coarse sand nestled in between, every spot with sea glass. I added a new color to my collection; yellow.

On the site of former ship building company

On the site of former ship building company

Russ says, "we had one of those."  The old geezer!

Russ says, “we had one of those.” The old geezer!

 

101 yrs old- Woodman's is on the "list" of things to do b4 you die

101 yrs old- Woodman’s is on the “list” of things to do before you die

Russ and his farm

Russ and his farm

oh ya soooo good

oh ya soooo good

careful now, rung by rung

careful now, rung by rung

This talented mother hen made her way slowly down the ladder. The farm offered PYO and the raspberries we picked tasted divine.
The day after our sojourn to Essex and Ipswich Massachusetts we visited Rockport. You can check the link above for why we loved it so much the first time. You won’t be surprised to hear we had to have another lobster pizza! Nor that one of us visited Beadles Bead Shop. :-)

Lobster loaded pizza at Atlantic Pizza Company

Lobster loaded pizza at Atlantic Pizza Company

A luscious lunch followed by irresistible ice cream didn’t pile on guilt because the next stop was Halibut Point Park, the site of a former granite quarry. The visitor center was closed for repairs so we didn’t get the full scoop on dates, process or volume. From the looks of it, the cut granite was hauled down to the water and loaded on a schooner or barge to be delivered throughout New England.

Granite quarry at Halibut Point Park

Granite quarry at Halibut Point Park.  This is only one half of it.

 

Is she longing for the sea?

Is she longing for the sea?

the arch has been invented!

the arch has been invented!

Saturday the temp hit 87 and we joined hundreds of other escapees at, can you believe it?? The beach!! Yep, loaded with beach gear, what little we have, we spent 2 ½ hours at Salisbury State Beach. The state park campground there has 481 sites and is so popular that even 5 mos ago booking a week’s stay wasn’t possible.IMG_1598 (800x593) Luckily our site at Pines Camping less than two miles up the road is mostly moderate shade and that allows the air conditioning to take the morning off and work like crazy in the afternoon. Monday, Annie and crew would head NW away from the coast to…??

site 136A Pines Camping

Our site 136A Pines Camping

 

 

Farewell tour aboard Ortolan, our special lady

ease her in

Ease her in

Apologize for the over-used saying, but you know it; the one about the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life being the day of purchase and then, the day she is sold. One of us is happier now than the other and yet still sad. The vehicle that brought us safely to such wonderful places, that helped us meet so many people (many we still are in touch with); how can we ever forget her?

I don’t need to repeat the early days of excitement, nor will I lay the blame solely at Bob Bitchin’s seafaring feet for it was his first-ever East Coast Cruising Seminar held in Mystic, CT that spurred us on. But Bob does expect some blame from those who have cast off the lines and ventured out farther than the nearest sandbar.  So Bob, you get to share the blame with Russ’s Mom and Dad who raised their three kids with boats, boating and more boating!

After a long winter’s nap which was really more like an important dermatologist visit, Ms Ortolan emerged from the Maine Cat cocoon on a beautiful June day (low winds too!).

two police, boat, trailer/mast, worker, us and others behind

The convoy: two police cars, boat, trailer/mast, worker, us and others behind

Within a week she was on deposit and with words like “immaculate” used to describe her, the new owners-to-be endeared themselves to us. As things worked out; hey life must go on even when you have a new toy, she was still ours until July 6 when we’d seal the deal with moolah and mushy hugging.

Russ desperately wanted to be aboard on Father’s Day (for more reasons than the obvious) for the start of a short (measured in miles) trip to South Freeport, ME tucked up into the northern corner of Casco Bay. After time on the mooring at Broad Cove to “take care of things”, we needed to get her closer to Portland for the arrival of her new “sail her like crazy” owners! “ :-)

The logistics were staggering and I am not sure if you can stand to hear about it but I feel like I need to tell you so you can be amazed at how we pulled it off! The short version then: find marina with protected moorings near Portland and book a ball for a week, find nearby RV park for one night July 5 so Annie can be staged, confirm with Duck Puddle that they do have a place for Annie to be for two weeks while we are on Ms Ortolan (ohhh I can feel the jealous vibes now). When we first booked Duck Puddle we knew that July 2 would be the end for any site available to us, other than a spot to dry camp. Leaving the RV and moving onto the boat was the perfect solution and we could check on things once we got to the marina and our car.

Pretty field flowers and butterfly next to our site.

Pretty field flowers and butterfly next to our site.

very close upIn the middle of all this, which took a few days, we had a few boat things to fix; you know, the stuff that craps out at the year five mark or decides to make your life tough once the boat goes on deposit. The UPS man got to know us really well and we got so tight that he even dropped off packages right at our site!

In between major nasty weather events we made our way from Bremen to South Freeport via Boothbay Harbor.

Windjammers into BBH

Windjammers sail in Boothbay Harbor

looking across from our anchorage

Looking across from our anchorage

S/v Bowdoin 88'- built in Castine 1920 for Arctic explorer Adm Donald MacMillan

S/v Bowdoin 88′- built in Castine 1920 for Arctic explorer Adm Donald MacMillan

A few hours south of Boothbay is Casco Bay where we’d spent the greater part of a week last August. Shortly past Eagle Island the engines took a break and we unfurled the screecher one last time for a slow 4kt sail up toward the Haraseekett River and South Freeport.Peary home closer up

Our first mooring was right at the entrance, but then we moved in from the nosebleed section. The shot below is looking out toward the entrance to the protected mooring field.

Pound of Tea Is- second from left

Pound of Tea Island- second from left

With some time to kill before the big day we checked out the local donut shops, Cape Elizabeth, and got back to Dolphin Marina and Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner. Mr Fixit remained busy and once in a while needed a break.

Holy Donut- made with potato flour!

Holy Donut- made with potato flour! Their claim to fame is a chocolate glazed sea salt donut. Excellent!

 

Sinfully delicious- a Holy Donut

sinfully delicious- a Holy Donut

 

dining with an ocean view

dining with an ocean view

un oh, a long line, but it moved along

un oh, a long line, but it moved along

 

 

they copied us!!!

Pod to pod: they copied us!!!

 

Buck Naked's over the top margarita

Buck Naked’s over the top margarita. Even seafood lovers need ribs!

 

borrowed bosun's seat

Borrowed bosun’s seat from a couple we met who live nearby. Question is- did it work out?

Which did we see first- the chick or the egg?

When the sign is out; the eggs are in!

When the sign is out; the eggs are in!

Along the road we often take between Nobleboro and Bremen sits a house with an inviting sign.

We stopped and got to talking with the couple who live there, raising chickens, sheep and growing veggies. So many homes seem to do some version of this, including lobstering and selling massive mounds of firewood.

And yes, we have the answer to, “why did the chicken cross the road?” In this case it’s because the road cuts through the 20-plus acres and for some reason the owners put the chicken ranch across the road from the house. Mostly I think the reason is that the other hens and the rooster gang up on one and she needs to flee fast!

The chicken Ranch

The chicken Ranch sits across the road from the house

 

chicks cross road; stops traffic

chicks cross road; stop traffic

We learned that chickens can do a hard molt or a soft molt. Soft is losing and re-growing feathers a few at a time, while hard molt means they get bare-naked no feathers, feel very uncomfortable and need plenty of protein to get those new feathers re-grown quickly.

Rhode Island Red chick- sooo sweet!

Rhode Island Red chick- sooo sweet!

Cute chick, but we needed eggs and it’s been a long time since we’d eaten farm fresh eggs. The blue ones are laid by Aracaunas; they have noticeable feather tufts near their ears, and no tail.

The variety pack is always what you get

The variety pack is always what you get

These are all a solid orange; the Aracauna yolk is the deepest orange one at bottom right. Difference in taste? You bet. If you can get fresh eggs locally; do it.

Regular grocery store eggs are never this orange

Regular grocery store eggs are never this orange

 

 

 

 

Out and About Along the Mid-Coast

We have a date! A launch date that is: Thursday June 4 at noon at the Pine St launching ramp in Waldoboro. Maine Cat wanted us to bring Ms. Ortolan down river to the mooring at Broad Cove so we would get to watch the process from factory pickup, along Rte 32 (often marked “Frost Heave”) to the all-tide launch ramp. The tide range would be 11 ft that day!! The other day on our way to Friendship to sight-see and beach-comb we stopped to scope out the ramp. High tide coincides with launch time; excellent planning!

Low tide at the launch ramp

Low tide at the launch ramp

Too late I thought to mark where we are. Find the red dot for Nobleboro; below it and south of Rte 1 is Pemaquid Pond (not labeled) we are near the top on the right hand shore.

Mid-Coast: Brunswick through Penobscot Bay

Mid-Coast: Brunswick through Penobscot Bay

Over the past month we’ve had time for sightseeing, hiking, checking out the local egg selections and lobster offerings. We’ve enjoyed a front row seat for a wedding and reception at the campground; decidedly low-budget but everyone was enjoying the warm sunny day. Those who could, came with their campers for the night.

Fort Edgecomb on Sheepscot River by Wiscasset

Fort Edgecomb on Sheepscot River by Wiscasset

We brought a picnic lunch and were happy to find picnic tables overlooking the bluff-perfect.

Sheepscot River- no vessel would get past the fort

Sheepscot River- no vessel would get past the fort

 

The best around!

The best around!

 

first of the season- he or she?

first of the season- he or she?

Aboca Beads sits on Main St Damariscotta along with an inviting selection of shops, cafes, barber shops, salons, and a fantastic book store that is up for sale. Naturally I had to visit the bead shop and then we walked around, coming upon a small lobster shack selling a variety of lobster items and fresh ones for $9/lb. As high as that price is, it was less than the $10.49 we’d seen and passed on at another place.

But for our money we got lobster learned. I never thought about it, but the larger claw can be on either side so lobsters can be left or right-handed as well as soft or hard and male or female.

 

Caution- LOW ceiling

Caution- LOW ceiling

While I hit the bead shop Russ ducked into this barber shop; formerly the customs house many years ago when this waterfront space was only a large dock overlooking the harbor between Damariscotta and Newcastle. In another incarnation it operated as a seafood market and the owners poured concrete, which raised the floor. A small eatery then came along, flooring added, so now anyone over 6 ft tall needs to stoop and grab a chair fast.

Complicated bottle return at Hannaford

Complicated bottle return at Hannaford

 

All this for returns at 5 to 15 cents each??

All this for returns at 5 to 15 cents each??

 

The campground (surprisingly) does not recycle but we always have plenty to recycle and wanted to find place to take it.

Maine is serious about recycling (or keeping the roadsides clean) and levies a 15 cent deposit on wine and hard booze. We generally don’t bother with returning bottles, just recycle them with all the rest.

But get a load of the lengthy return  process that one smart company talked Hannaford into. Buy a special bag, get a card, bring your bag in, and days later when your returns are processed you get credit for the bag cost and the bottle deposits. I think that’s the simple explanation. If you only have a few bottles, you can see customer service to get a smaller bag.  The other option is taking your bottles to a redemption center and wait in line. We are collecting our returnables and will  visit a center before we leave here. The store provides bins for other plastic, glass and paper items so we bring a bag every trip.

Whaleback Shell Midden- exposed shells after artifact digging

Whaleback Shell Midden- exposed shells after artifact digging

 

Larger shell midden across the river

Larger shell midden across the river

 

lobster traps recycling

lobster traps recycled into unique seating

 

Lobster club at Happy Clam

Lobster club at Happy Clam

After visiting Port Clyde and the Marshall Point Lighthouse, we needed lunch! Tenant’s Harbor, a few miles away in the direction we needed to go, offered one dining option and we took it. Russ chose the Lobster Club and I must say, from the tiny nibble I was allowed, it was darn tasty!

 

The  Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta

The Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta

Rising Tide felt just like Foodworks in Old Saybrook and even more so like the Middlebury, VT Natural Foods Co-op; the only thing missing was Benj, Lily and a busy deli counter!

Motorhome Annie’s musical selections: XM 7 Seventies, Blue Man Group. From the iDevice: MeccaLily’s Breath of Life album, Norah Jones

Port Clyde and Marshall Pt Lighthouse- May 25

Low tide at Port Clyde

Low tide at Port Clyde

The area we are in is called Maine’s mid-coast. I am not sure why but Port Clyde seems to be a very well-known place even though it lacks the bustle and plethora of shops of Boothbay Harbor or the cultural scene of Rockland. Maybe that’s the charm. :-)

When I was a very much younger child I visited Port Clyde (along with other Maine locations) with Mom and Dad, so I was curious to see what might be recognizable, or not. I recalled tall docks with lobster traps (and I guess back then the traps were wood?), a few shops and a green building.

Ferry to Monhegan Island departs from Port Clyde

Ferry to Monhegan Island departs from Port Clyde

Seaglass was lying around waiting for us to pick up those precious pieces; a few even looked old and were properly smoothed by sand and water.

Linda Bean’s Lobster Traps called to us. What the heck are those you say? I’d been seeing ads in the paper for Linda Bean’s café; was this a Bean of THE L.L. Bean fame? Ah yuh, sure was. We wandered into the most inviting and practically only shop in town, the Port Clyde General Store and yes, it was green.  and Linda Bean'sRoughly equal parts grocery, café, and gift shop, the upstairs contained a small art gallery. On the wall leading up I stopped to admire Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World”, one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. It depicts a woman lying on the ground in a treeless, mostly tawny grass field, looking up at a gray house on the horizon; a barn and various other small outbuildings are near the house. I’m sure you know this painting; if I do then anyone would! ( my reason for mentioning this painting will become clear later)
So back to lobster traps; not the type the lobsters crawl into, but edible ones that less creative preparers term lobster ravioli! They scored extremely high on our list of favorite lobster ravs; the filling really was nearly all lobster.

Delightful reading all over the package

Delightful reading all over the package

Linda Bean's Edible Lobster Traps

Linda Bean’s Edible Lobster Traps

 

 

The Marshal Point Lighthouse sits on the point; dare I suggest it’s called Marshall Point? Just a couple miles south of Port Clyde. As you can see the lighthouse and keeper’s house were separate and back in the day the walkway was covered. This must have been one of the cushier outposts; not on a rocky god-forsaken island, pleasant living accommodations and a not horribly tall lighthouse to manage.

Marshall Pt Lighthouse- 1832

Marshall Pt Lighthouse- constructed 1832

Forrest Gump fans may recall this walkway.

Forrest Gump fans may recall this walkway.

The house and kitchen addition are now a (free) museum with easy on the eyes displays of local industry, mainly lobstering and quarrying. Family history is important too and we got a huge kick out of seeing our name many times.

How clever is this display of a family tree?

How clever is this display of a family tree?

In late 80's we found and drove around Rackliff Island

In late 80’s we found and drove around Rackliff Island

Our ancestors were very advanced!

Our ancestors were very advanced!

Part of the extensive genealogy research that Russ’s dad compiled, was finding Rackliff Island, located between Rockland and Tenant’s Harbor. I’d remembered that years ago (BB- before Benj) we drove up to spend a few days near Ogunquit, staying at a motel in Wells. The drive to Rackliff Island had to have been long and sans GPS- imagine! But we found it by asking around once we got to Thomaston and drove over a short causeway to a pine tree forested island with a few homes and many lots for sale.

Are these “Rackliff”s related to William Rackliff (Rackleff) or to Russell William Rackliffe? Not sure, but we have enough data to continue the research should the urge overcome us.

One room contained genealogy and notebooks full of local info.. and a gorgeous water view

One room contained genealogy and notebooks full of local info.. and a gorgeous water view

Also in this room sat a table and on it a notebook with pictures and info about the locale filming of the tiny scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest (but Tom’s brother Jim really did the scene) during his coast to coast run, arrives in Maine. Inspired, we watched the movie that night. Near the end is a scene where Jenny approaches her childhood home which is now dilapidated and loaded with bad memories. She begins throwing rocks at it, then collapses on the ground, a la “Christina’s World”. I didn’t make the connection at the time, but a fleeting sense of recognition poked my subconscious.

When we checked it out, wow did that movie have even more historical nods than we’d caught. Savannah, of course was the setting for Forrest on the bench but although the story is set in Alabama I wasn’t sure that the filming happened there. Russ (who has more time and a better, faster iPhone) is our resident researcher and asked me to guess where most of the movie was filmed (the town, Forrest’s home, etc) and digging deep…   I answered, Beaufort, SC! The look he gave me- astounded and amazed!! Eyes could not have been wider- how did you know? Oh just a WAG, but an educated one- hey we’ve been through there more than once. This was just days after I correctly named the location (Wrightsville Beach, NC) of another movie. But I’ve digressed.

Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” was indeed the model for that scene and when you see them side by side; it’s uncanny. Do you think that painting hung for easy viewing at the General Store on purpose? I do. The painting location was Cushing, which is across the St George River from Port Clyde; very local.

Motorhome Annie’s recent musical selections: XM 59 Willie’s Roadhouse, XM 17 James Taylor.

From the iDevice: Kingston Trio, Solid Ground album by Izzy Bradburn, Patsy Cline, Spyro Gyra (formed in the late 1970’s in Buffalo, NY)

Ladies and Gents- Start Your Alewives!

Please don't think I am imitating an alewife!

Please don’t think I am imitating an alewife!

I admit to much-liking the small towns around us; the smaller, older homes, many with plaques proclaiming a pre-1800 date. But when I recall that winter comes in a big way to the northeast, not to mention that the recent epic winter remains a topic of conversation, Maine never makes the list of possible states where we’ll settle down.

Y’all might think the place you live is interesting, maybe even unique, or the birthplace of some well-known person, but I ask you, does your town have an alewife ladder???

Is this thing, 1) a ladder for the tavern-owner’s wife to use to escape drunken brawls; 2) a ladder that leads to the hold in a fisherman’s boat; or 3) a man-made method that allows alewives to migrate to fresh water when a dam blocks their way? Ok that was easy.

But what is an alewife?

They are an anadromous type of herring or shad, which means they live in saltwater but return to fresh water to spawn. They are ten to sixteen inches long; the front of the body is deep and larger than other fish found in the same waters, and its common name is said to come from comparison with a corpulent female tavern keeper. Adult alewives are preferred bait for the spring lobster fishery in Maine, but are typically eaten in smoked form, if at all. Years ago they were salted, packed in barrels and shipped to the West Indies and, more recently they were filleted, pickled and shipped widely as a specialty food. Think I’d pass.

We routinely pick up all the local free newspapers available and for two days over the holiday weekend, the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Festival would be in full swing. With fresh doughnuts available in the mornings, how could we resist?

We always seek out yummy doughnuts- have you noticed ?

We always seek out yummy doughnuts- have you noticed ?

Damariscotta Mills, located in the Towns of Nobleboro and Newcastle (north of Rte 1 as opposed to south, where we are), was settled in 1729. A double sawmill was built at the head of the falls between fresh water Damariscotta Lake and the tidal headwaters of the Damariscotta River. Great for the town but lousy for the alewives who couldn’t make their annual migration to fresh water. The legislature said “tut, tut, let those alewives pass” but not until 1807 did the towns construct the ladder and a very basic one at that.

Today’s ladder, which is undergoing an extensive restoration since 2007, rises 42 feet from the bay to the lake. It is composed of 76 resting pools separated by weirs that each rise 8-10 inches. Many have wire covers to keep the seagulls from catching an easy meal. More than one half million will ascend the ladder to spawn.

The upper Lower section of ladder

The upper Lower section of ladder

View from group of people in prior photo, looking left up the ladder

View from group of people in prior photo, looking left up the ladder

The fish ladder touches on private property- good or not?

The fish ladder touches on private property- good or not?

The alewives enter the Damariscotta River in late April and get to the ladder in early May. They wait patiently, coloring the water dark, for their turn to navigate up which, even with the ladder, isn’t easy and only the strongest are successful. Once in the lake each female produces 60,000 – 100,000 eggs which hatch in 3-6 days. Seaward migration occurs between July and November. The juveniles descend the ladder in large schools, typically backing down rather than swimming head first. Now, that I’d like to see.

The fresh water lake at the top

The fresh water lake at the top

The fish are still harvested here, starting the second week of May, and sold as lobster bait which helps the Maine lobster industry in the spring when other fresh bait is scarce.

Harvesting begins second week of May- lots of scooping.

Harvesting begins second week of May- lots of scooping.

The festival offered activities and food for all ages, especially the kids. We didn’t hang around long as Port Clyde called out so we missed the poetry reading and music. A woman who lives nearby wrote a bluegrass style song, “Journey to the Lake”; one line goes, “Hungry osprey are waiting to greet them and the eagles’ circling over the bay.” Not only do the fish need strength, they need luck.

osprey enjoy alewives too

osprey enjoy alewives too

A flock of seagulls hung out (it being low tide when we were there) in the shallows before the ladder area, trying their best to snag a treat.

Gulls try hard to snag a fish

Gulls try hard to snag a fish

 

 

Cats and more cats

Fast moving multi-hull

Fast moving multi-hull

Do you find the origin of words fascinating, or least interesting? I do. Find myself delving into word origins more and more; and hey it’s easy these days. How about this word: “catamaran”? The other night Russ and I tossed around some possible countries of origin and you might be doing the same right now …but we didn’t get it right. Try this: India.

You can check it yourself but here’s the Cliff Notes version: In and around India, vessels which looked to be nothing more than one or two lightweight pieces of wood tied together, were called Kattumarams in the Tamil language. (Tamil is one of 22 languages of India and one of the oldest surviving classical languages in the world). The word meant literally, “tied wood” (from kaṭṭu “to tie” and maram “wood, tree”). When English visitors encountered the swift and stable boats used by the Polynesians two widely spaced canoe-type vessels tied together, the same term was applied and thus today we have catamarans, or “cats” for short.

The same day of the catamaran word history tour, we drove down to lovely Wiscasset then lunched at Mine Oyster in Boothbay Harbor. I walked into only one shop in Boothbay Harbor (yes, I am feeling just fine) where local crafts and other interesting Maine items are sold. One book cover caught my eye; a stunning photo of a Maine Coon cat. Ah yes, the Coon Cat.

Captivating Coon Cat

Captivating Coon Cat

I smiled because if you Google that or do any search for Maine Cat, guess what comes up first? Yep, the Maine Coon Cat, which we never investigated, probably because we were too focused on that Maine Cat catamaran.

That same evening, there we sat at our tiny dinette table, sipping our Happy Hour libations and minding our own business. We sat inside because thanks to a cold front, the day was chilly, chilly and windy, windy. You get the picture. Our window looks out toward…….. not much, just open space, a barn, a few trees (one fallen) and grassy tent sites beyond. Movement caught my eye and I saw what looked like large, furry cat-like creatures; two of them.

He and she Maine Coon Cats

He and she Maine Coon Cats- taken through window so as not to scare them off

We know next to nothing about cats….. but we do love the ones our family and friends have and share such wonderful photos of!! :-) More research was in order and you can just call us your nomadic research assistants for all we routinely Google; most of it we don’t trouble you with!

Russ gets their keen attention

Russ gets their keen attention when he steps outside

Maine Coons are quite special; known as “gentle giants”, they are the largest domesticated cat breed in the U.S. and are now one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.  One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, especially native to Maine where they are the official state cat. Can you believe, a Maine Coon cat won the first North American Cat Show in 1895? Intelligent, excellent hunters with long fuzzy/bushy tails and medium to long hair, the one feature that assures you that you are indeed staring at a Coon cat is their slightly tufted ears. Look carefully at their ears in the above photo: see?

In the photo below you get a good look at the female’s tail. How do I know that she’s the female? At first I just labeled the light-colored one the female, but then …. well Spring IS here and love is in the air. :-)

Pardon me sir; I take the front seat.

Pardon me sir; I take the front seat.

Now about that name; two folk tales seem to be the most popular, with the more ordinary one (naturally) being the more likely. My favorite goes like this: in 1793 when Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, tried to escape from France (probably to her relatives in Quebec :-) ) she brought her beloved Turkish Angora cats with her. She never made it, but her cats – with their nine lives- made it to the Wiscasset shore (weren’t we just there?) where they bred with the local short-haired cats and thus today- oh wait-people who first saw the new version must have seen dark-colored ones and though, “raccoon”. Romantic and all but not very likely.

The generally accepted theory among breeders also involves ships and the sea; perhaps not as boring as I led you believe. A seafaring trading ship Captain, Charles R. Coon often put into port in New England and his brave many-lived long-haired cats traveled with him. In classic literature what happens when a ship stops at a port? The sailors rush to the taverns, eager for brews and wenches. This wild abandon activity would surely include the cats aboard, eager to get away from a ship that offers not one speck of decent kitty litter! When the local population noticed cats similar to the ship’s long-haired cats with a touch of ‘common’, they called these felines “Coon’s Cats”. Take your pick, find another or make up your own story; but if you have a better one, you’d better share.  P.S. I gave Captain Coon the middle initial “R”.