Local Outing


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We went Smiling Hill this weekend, picked some pumpkins, petted a goat or two and took a ton of photos.  Beautiful fall day and adorable kid? It’s hard not to.

Since we last came in the spring, the petting zoo goats have gotten a lot chubbier and LMC’s gotten more independent. She wanted to be wherever the bigger kids (3-5 year-olds) were: climbing on the trains and planes, driving the John Deere-a-saurus, riding the mini tractors, going down from the top of the tall slides. She also wanted no help in carrying her pumpkins of choice. Is it any surprise that we’ve switched to the booster seat from the high chair at home? This girl is ready for her seat at the table.

With the pumpkins brought home and her costume finished last night (she’s gonna be so cute!!), we’re all ready for Halloween here. The only thing left to do is pick out the kind of takeout we want for Friday night (a Cleaver Halloween tradition).

Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch or Halloween tradition? When I was a kid in California it was Stanly Lane for pumpkins every year and my mom would sew whatever incredibly complex costume I desired that year (as chosen from the back of the Simplicity or McCall’s pattern book at JoAnn’s) including full renaissance dress. I figure this is probably my last year before LMC has an opinion about what she wants to be for Halloween (maybe one more?) so I’m trying to make it a good one.

Me-Mades: Minoru Jacket, Lamina Sweater

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Little Miss Cleaver is, for the most part, a pretty good eater and if there’s one thing she loves to eat above else it’s fruit (unless it’s honeydew melon, because she ain’t having none of that).

She is, however, somewhat picky about the quality and seasonality of her fruit. Watermelon in July – gimme more! Watermelon in a fruit salad in September – no way. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that her favorite outings seem to be our PYO trips, because fruit fresh off the plant? Nothing better than that!

And I tend to agree, our annual Ricker Hill trip is always one of my favorite days of the year. Beautiful views, fresh fruit, apple cider doughnuts, and Steinbeck gets to come too? And this year they even added a hard cider tasting room.

Its was unseasonably warm this year, but everyone still had a great time (even Mr. Cleaver, who we forgot to get in front of the camera!), but I think LMC had the best time of all!

PS – check out the photos from last year, my little one has gotten so big!

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The Cumberland County Fair.

I love the Fair, and I feel like Cumberland County gets somewhat unfairly maligned locally when compared to the earthier Common Ground and more grand-scale Fryeburg Fairs (both of which I also enjoy).

I’ve never been into fairs for the midway or the rides that take up a big portion of the fairground real estate (though I do enjoy a good cheese fry and bit of fried dough), instead for me,  it’s all about the animals and the opportunity to see folks showing off their passions, be it raising rabbits, ox-pulling, quilting, or pie-making and Cumberland excels at this as much as any other fair I’ve been too. It’s also the closest, which certainly doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a 1 1/2-year old in tow and may need to make a quick exit when the tired grumpies strike.

But LMC was enamored with the whole fair affair, and held up for an impressive 3+ hours. And there was a lot to take in in those 3 hours: we saw animals, listened to a favorite local bluegrass band (Tricky Britches), watched 4-H-ers guiding sheep through an obstacle course, visited a petting zoo, tried our hand at train-car pushing, and caught the first part of a junior rodeo.

The feeling that I get again and again is, while this is a fun little jaunt for me and my family, this is a big showcase for the presenters and worth all the pomp and circumstance they can muster, even if it means that almost every major event starts with another rendition of the National Anthem.

So here’s to you young lady who taught us all about the Argente Brun Rabbit, and the kindly gentleman who explained his concerns the effect vacuum tapping technology may have maple trees. Here’s to you Channel 13 Chief Meteorologist Charlie Lopresti and your 990 pound pumpkin. Here’s to you cow-wrestling teenagers and the veteran who played Johnny Cash songs on his harmonica to the goats. And here’s to you 4-Hers who rocked the obstacle course and especially the ones who had to life their sheep over every obstacle – the Fair is yours, thanks for letting my family visit, we’ll see you next year!

Beech Hill Preserve

Beech Hill Preserve

Beech Hill Preserve

Beech Hill Preserve

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Beech Hill Preserve

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Olson House

Christina and Alvaro

Olson House

Olson House

Olson House

Christina's Garden

Alvaro's Hops

Olson House

I think we saved the best for last. On our way back out of the Midcoast, we made two lovely stops on a beautifully sunny day.

First up was the Beech Hill Preserve in Rockland, which doubles as a working organic wild blueberry farm. This spot was recommended by a coworker of mine, and has some stunning views. It’s also far less trafficked than Mount Battie, thanks to the fact that you have to do a (rather gentle, if you’re not carrying a toddler on your hip) hike up to the top.

Finally we stopped at the Olson House in Cushing. Here I’m glad that Mr. Cleaver had me do some reading up on the Olson’s and Andrew Wyeth’s relationship with them. Without context, the Olson House is nice, if a bit dull, as it’s basically an old empty farmhouse. With context, the place has a lot of resonance.

I mostly read the 1982 book by Betsy Wyeth, Christina’s World, and the first chapter of Richard Meryman’s 2013 Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait, both of which I found helpful. We also picked up Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World and The Olson House at the Farnsworth gift shop. I haven’t read it yet, but according to Mr. Cleaver, it tells more about the history of the house, in particular what happened after siblings Alvaro and Christina died.

After wandering the house and grounds, including a visit to the A. Wyeth and Olson graves, we drove back to Thomaston for a nice lunch at a local cafe, then it was back on the road and back home.

Beech Hill Preserve, Rockland
Olson House, Cushing
Thomaston Cafe, Thomaston

View from Mt. Battie

On top of Mt. Battie

View of Camden from Mt. Batty

Up High

Parenting on the Edge

Stone Tower on Mt. Battie

Mt. Battie

Mt. Battie

Laite Beach

Laite Beach

Farnsworth Museum

Flowers at Farnsworth

Farnsworth Museum

Farnsworth Museum

Farnsworth

Day two of our trip took us to see two different kinds of beautiful sights, 1) the stunning views of Camden from the peak of Mount Battie (fortunately very accessible by car) in Camden Hills State Park where we got LMC the first stamp in her Maine State Parks Passport, and 2) the American art at the Farnsworth Art Museum.

The Farnsworth is known for its collection of paintings from all three generations of the Wyeths, N.C., Andrew and Jamie. Mr. Cleaver is a huge Andrew Wyeth fan (I’m most partial to the more fantastical to N.C. myself, but enjoy them all), which was a big part of our decision to visit the area, and the Farnsworth collection, particularly of Andrew Wyeth studies and paintings did not disappoint. I was particularly struck by the 1982 work Adrift.

The day as a whole, made me itchy to do some painting again, which I haven’t touched in far too long. (So many art forms, so little time).

Camden Hills State  Park/Mt. Battie, Camden
Laite Memorial Beach Park, Camden
Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland

Moody's Diner

Lunch At Moody'sDiner

Lunch at Moody's Diner

French Fries at Moody's Diner

4 Berry Pie at Moody's Diner

Rockland Public Landing

Rockland Public Landing

Rockland Public Landing

Clementine

Clementine

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Clementine

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Whale's Tooth

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This past week, the Cleaver’s packed up and headed off the Midcoast for our first vacation since LMC’s arrival in our lives. We set our sights on the Rockland/Camden area, about 2 hours north of Portland, and with reservations for a cottage and the loosest of to-see lists, we set off on our grand adventure.

The trip provided us with some stunning views, some additions to the fabric stash, good food (THAT PIE!!), and some much-needed down time

Moody’s Diner, Waldboro
Rockland Public Landing
Clementine, Rockland
Whale’s Tooth Pub, Lincolnville
Lincolnville Beach
Pine Grove Cottages, Lincolnville

Splash Pad

Splash Pad

Splash Pad

Splash Pad

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LMC is not a child lacking for new experiences, because it is so much fun seeing your child experience something for the first time. It’s so easy to forget how amazing things are and how much we, as grownups, take for granted. I took LMC for a walk around the block today sans stroller and she literally stopped to smell every flower, and collect every loose stick, rock, and acorn. When do we lose that and how can we get some of it back?

By the end of the day, Mr. Cleaver and I are exhausted, LMC definitely wears us out (in a good way). But I think it was less than 5 minutes out of the Wildlife Park parking lot that she crashed in the car seat, so it’s safe to say that we wear her out too. We’ve spent a lot of time cramming activity into the short time period that is summer weekends in Maine, and we’ve made a valiant effort, but I have to remind myself that it’s okay if we won’t get to everything on the list and that a walk around the block has as much to show us as a walk around an wild animal park, if you take the time to look.

I’ve been seeing a bit of theme in the blogosphere, that we’ve all gotten so busy. Guilty as charged. I, for one, don’t handle down-time all that well, it’s a skill that I sorely need to develop. But it may just be that I’ve got the best instructor right in front of me, because who knows how to live more in the moment than a toddler?

Portland Splash Pad
LL Bean KidsFEST
Maine Wildlife Park

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