Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Maine-Fog And Sunny Days

For a week now, we have had wonderful house guests here in Maine—and together we shared “mercurial Maine”—in other words, sunny days interspersed with incredible fog.  So we did what vacationers in Maine do—hike and swim on the sunny days and explore on the foggy—and eat on all of them!!!

On a foggy day, we went over to Southwest Harbor and went to Beal’s Lobster Pound—a true Maine lobster pound.

The boats come in and unload their great stacks of lobster traps—it is a dangerous career—and not paying very well, now—with the big crates pulled into the docks by cranes.

The lobsters will be sorted, some to go by truck to New York, Boston and other waiting restaurants

And some to stay right there at Beal’s and other local lobster pounds to be cooked up for shore dinners.

We ate our meal there, inside the giant screened porch—I usually like to eat outside at the pounds, but the fog was mixed with rain, so it was just too wet and cold. 

Afterwards, of course, we cleaned up as you always do at the pounds. 

On the next day, which was unbelievable sunny (mercurial Maine!), we went for a special tour of the Rockefeller Garden.  What a beautiful spot it is!  There are several amazing gardens on Mount Desert Island—private ones, and ones open to the public such as the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden, but the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden is the most beautiful—in its own way—of them all.  Approached through the deep shade of spruces and firs and guarded by fantastic oriental antiques, some as old as 500 years B.C., it is suddenly “there,” after going from the shade of the forest, through a gate, and into a blaze of colour in the sunshine—pink gravel paths bordered by clematis and delphinium and hollyhocks and poppies and veronicas and dahlias and lilies and every flower you can imagine

So beautiful—such an amazing gift to the country on the part of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as is so much of Acadia National Park.

Of course, afterwards, we went to the Jordon Pond House for tea and popovers—piping hot with butter and Jordon Pond House strawberry jam.

Now that I have shown you pictures of the things our houseguests and we did together, I will give you some helpful hints for being a houseguest—although my guests this last week are perfect and never need any hints!

Rules for being a good houseguest

Arrive when you are supposed to and leave the same—although your host may ask you to stay longer, this is probably hyperbole, and should not be seriously considered.

Always be on time for all planned activities and meals—and remember, you are a guest, and you should never ask for any changes in room assignments or food prepared.

Unless, and sometimes even if, the house in which you are staying is just crawling with “help,” keep your room neat, make your bed upon leaving it every morning (before you go to breakfast!) And help both before and after meals.  You will know very quickly if you are not supposed to do this; usually, today, you are.

When there is help, always leave (with your host or hostess) a sizeable tip for him/ her/ them.  Remember, you are adding to their load.  This tip is based on how long you are there and how much they do for you—for instance, are they doing your laundry while you are there?  Are they serving breakfasts at several times allowing you to sleep in? And so on.

For some reason, people tend to go to bed earlier in the country.  Follow the example if your host and hostess and toddle off when they do.  If you are used to staying up later, you can always read. 

Arrive with a house present—again, in size in relation to the length of your stay.  If you feel you should have done more, you can always add to it in a “sent” present after you leave.  Good house presents are things that can be enjoyed by everyone while you are there, such as wine or cheese; fruit or snacks; really, any kind of food so long as you don’t expect the foods to be served while you are there.  The meals will have already been planned, and unless you have sent your offering ahead, they may not be able to include it right then.  Flowers are nice, or after you leave and know what their house is like, something special for that house.  Fun—but not too serious—writing paper or really nice telephone pads—especially with matching pens—are always appreciated.  Things for the bar such as a really nice set of glasses, cocktail napkins (if they have the help to iron them!) Or an ice bucket are always liked, as is something for the table once you know what their table is like.  Remember, when you gasp at the price of really nice things, a hotel would have been a lot more.

If you are invited to go with them on their plane, remember, never, never, unless asked, sit in the forward seats facing the front of the plane.  Those are reserved for the owners of the plane.  Obviously, this rule pertains to larger planes with seats facing each other.  The same goes for the seats around the open deck of a large boat.  They may give you these seats, but do not assume them.  Just as important, never be late for a ride on a plane or in a boat—never.

The moment you get home, write that bread-and-butter letter.  Right away!!!!!

I hope you had fun.  Xoxoxoxoxo Leta