Snippets

04/12/2007

Fine Dining in Maine

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 6:36 pm

On a Friday afternoon my husband, Greg, and I cut out of work early and headed toward Moosehead Lake for the week end. June weather in Maine is often disappointing, but this day was glorious. Greg emphasized that he would like to stop at a fine dining spot for dinner on the drive up to Greenville. I wondered where there could possibly be elegant dining on the back roads in the middle of Maine, but I didn’t want to spoil his vision. I slipped a couple of beers into a cooler with some crackers and cheese and tucked it in the back seat of the van – just in case we chose to stop during the 3 hour drive.

We passed one restaurant – a log cabin with a Budweiser sign in a window that had probably never been washed. A couple of men drinking beer on the front porch scrutinized us as we slowed down to check it out. At another restaurant there weren’t any cars in the parking lot – just motorcycles and trucks equipped with gun racks. It was too early to stop anyway. Most places we passed were mom & pop stores with sandwiches for sale.

Eventually we came upon a rest area with picnic tables next to a lake and pulled off the road, ready for a stretch. The spring foliage was brand new, all soft yellow-green in color making it hard to tell one shrub from the next. A cabin across the cove surrounded by newly cut grass stood upside down on the glassy surface of the lake. Everything glowed perfection.
Thinking we were alone, I opened the back of the van, grabbed the two beers, and handed one to Greg. “Let’s stay for awhile!” I said.

It felt like stepping into a Monet painting as we walked down to the edge of the lake. When I looked up at Greg he was standing in front of me holding a small, white velvet covered box which he opened to reveal a lovely pair of sparkly blue earrings. It was the month of our 35th wedding anniversary. The moment could not have been lovelier or more romantic! I was touched by his plans to make it so beautiful, and I was sure he could not have imagined how wonderful it would turn out to be.

But we were not alone. Spring in Maine is also Black Fly season! Suddenly a cloud of the tiny infamous little buggers swarmed us and started their fine dining experience!

Our romantic looks turned to let’s get out of here fast expressions. For a half hour, as we drove the winding roads, we squashed black flies that had invited themselves into the open door of the van while we were down by the lake.

We dined on meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and a glass of wine that evening inside The Black Frog restaurant. I wore the lovely earrings as we watched the sparkly water of Moosehead Lake.

***

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No Fish Story

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 4:04 pm

There was a time when I could tell the difference between a Brown trout, a Brookie, a Rainbow and a Lake trout. I never fished for anything but mackerel in the Atlantic Ocean a few times, but I had the privilege of working for David A. Footer, a famous taxidermist of cold water fish, a fishing guide, and wildlife artist. If you have ever been to the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine, you have undoubtedly seen one of the fish he painted and mounted.

Dave taught me more about fish than I ever expected to learn. He said their brilliant colors change within minutes – even seconds – after being caught. I guess my color would change fast if I were held under water indefinitely. He also explained, “They are just like women – there ain’t a straight line on ’em!”

Dave’s wife Polly, whom he has adored since high school, has managed the business – bookkeeping, customer service, marketing, etc, etc, etc. – all the while raising seven children. Dave and Polly’s daughter, Julie, (a photo taken by her appeared in the MW January 2007 Newsletter) is learning the office skills from her mom along with her regular tasks of skinning fish and sculpting forms. I am fortunate and thrilled to have her volunteering here at Maine Warmers as an intern a few days each week.

I told Julie recently that whenever I am racing around at 90 miles an hour (not in the car) to accomplish a myriad of tasks, I remember her father’s measured pace and try to slow down. But Julie said that her mother was the one running 90 miles an hour behind the scenes for all those years.

I admire Dave for his knowledge of wildlife and his patience and attitude toward life in general. Dave designed his studio as he did other things – by thinking first and not rushing. The studio had large windows on the north side – natural light with no glare from the sun. Twenty years ago the room contained shelves with fish skins mounted on sculpted forms, neatly lined up according to the type of fish, and ready to be painted and restored to their natural beautiful colors. A tape player with an assortment of books on tape and a boom box tuned to Maine Public Radio were constant fixtures in the room. We listened to one of Dave’s favorite books on tape – a biography of Vincent van Gogh – which encouraged and inspired him.

Today, Dave spends more time painting pictures of fish in their natural surroundings than painting on them, mounting, or restoring them. He is now into his seventies, but if you ever talked with him you’d think he was 40. The first day I walked into his studio to work I saw a hand written sign on the workbench where I mixed paints each day. Three words spoke volumes about Dave. The sign read, “Enthusiasm is everything.”

Read more about David A. Footer

To sign up for Maine Warmers Newsletter go to Maine Warmers. Their heat packs – especially the Moose and Black Bear – make comforting get well gifts for hunters or outdoor enthusiasts.

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