August 2014 Newsletter


peppersGreetings from the Harraseeket Inn!  As summer ends and fall begins, we treasure  the last of these warm golden days and celebrate the homegrown bounty harvested from our farms and gardens.  Each year I watch the summer run from Freeport to Fort Kent on the long commute between home and work.  There's a two week lag (and three hundred miles) between the two Maine towns, so the seasons lengthen and shorten with each trip. In Fort Kent there's a sign outside the town office that usually sports an anti-drug and alcohol message aimed at the young folk, and as I drove past it recently it read: "Life at its best is nothing.  Chill Sober." I was still mulling this brain twister over when I passed a large draft horse grazing in an unfenced field near the edge of the road. Distracted by the words on that sign, I almost didn't recognize a moose when I saw one. When the Maine Mooseimage finally registered I backed up and snapped this photo of a Fort Kent cow moose. Hopefully she'll be more careful about where she chooses to dine when hunting season starts. It's not uncommon to see Maine moose in odd places.  Once, at dusk, I saw a moose standing in someone's back yard gazing through the window, mesmerized by the TV screen flashing within. I still wonder what the reaction of the homeowner might have been had he or she turned to see that great long nose pressed against the glass. Only in Maine...


Loon on Northern Lake

Speaking of life at its best, I can honestly say that while vacationing in Labrador recently I experienced a few days of "life at its best".  One evening while kayaking at sunset (chilling sober) I stopped paddling and just drifted. The sun was setting, the wind had died down and I had an entire sixty mile long lake to myself until a raft of eighteen loons swam up, first to check me out and then to drift along and grace me with the most extraordinary wilderness concert in the finest "surround sound" ever created. This was a once in a lifetime experience.  If you've never heard the song of the loon, this link is an excellent introduction. We all choose different places to vacation and I have always been haunted by Labrador. Long before going there in the early nineties to run a four hundred mile sled dog race, my mother use to play guitar and sing us kids a story about Labrador and a sailor named Jack being swallowed by a whale. The tale is similar to that of Jonah and the whale or Maine's own Burt Down Deep-Water Man, the last of Robert McKloskey's marvelous children's books. (All Maine children grow up listening to McKloskey stories: One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, Make Way for Ducklings...classics, each and every one.)  Apparently whales swallowed a fair share of sailors in song and story. Thelyrics to the song my mother sang went something like this: 


Burt Dow Jack was every inch a sailor,

Five and twenty years a whaler,

Jack was every inch a sailor,

He was born upon the bright blue sea.


When Jack grew up to be a man,

He went to the Labrador,

He fished in Indian Harbor,

Where his father fished before.

On his returning in the fog,

He met a heavy gale,

And Jack was swept into the sea

And swallowed by a whale. 


Labrador is north of the 54th parallel.  When I finally drove up the "frontier road" in 1991, "The Great Land" was buried beneath four or five feet of snow and the temp was 30 below. I should've gotten my fill during the Labrador 400 sled dog race but instead I bought a remote cabin and return every year.  Maine is a great state to live and vacation in, but Labrador is wild. Wild is knowing you can step out the cabin door, shoulder a pack and walk clear to Ungava Bay without crossing a road or seeing another person.  Wild is the lacing of wolf and caribou tracks along the shore, and a night sky so clear and dark  a thousand distant galaxies spangle stardust across infinity. Wild is a place where eighteen loons surround your kayak at sunset and sing the concert of the wilderness. The only visiting bear this year was a small sow with two cubs who avoided the cabin and the raspberry patch in front of it while we were there. I expect as soon as she heard the float plane depart for more southern climes, she and her little ones were padding down the cabin path to feast on those berries.  


appleMeanwhile, way down south in Maine, it's apple picking time.There are fine memories to be made with children in an apple orchard, sampling the varieties, picking the biggest and best apples or watching cider being made. Most Maine orchards are located in beautiful areas, and many offer heritage varieties. The Maine Pomological Society has provided a list of orchards in the state that offer a wide variety of apples and experiences.  What could be any more "Maine" than a generous wedge of warm apple pie served with a slice of sharp Vermont Cheddar and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream?  Speaking of pie, Thanksgiving is on the horizon.  We've posted our Thanksgiving Grand Buffet menu on line and are already taking reservations (in fact we're almost sold out) at 1-800-342-6423.  And yes, there will be pumpkin pie!!!


harbor sceneMaine's fall foliage is predicted to be spectacular this year.  We're already seeing quite a bit of color up in Fort Kent and here in Freeport there's no mistaking the early signs of autumn.  Frosty nights and golden days all ablaze are on the way. Check out the official fall foliage website to track the best color and plan on taking a scenic drive along the coast or in the mountains.  There are many hiking trails close by the inn, two of the best being Bradbury Mountain and Wolfe's Neck Woods State Parks both within an easy drive of the inn.  We'd be happy to pack you a picnic lunch for any of your adventures. 


**Upcoming Events, Special Offers and Exciting Announcements!**


*We were recently honored to be voted one of the 8 "most delicious" farm-to-table hotels in the world!  Many thanks to our dedicated farmers and growers, fishermen and women and our talented chefs for their contributions to this award.  


*16th Annual Freeport Fall Festival is being held October 4&5, 2014  Food, crafts, music and the famous Chowdah Challenge!  Don't miss out on the fun and great food!


*Harvest on the Harbor October 22 thru 25th.  Executive Chef Troy Mains has been creating a dazzling presentation for this event; this is always a dazzling weekend highlighting the talents of some of the greatest culinary artists in the state of Maine.


*Double Voucher Days!  Mark these dates on your calendar; your trivia vouchers will be worth DOUBLE on these dates for lodging only, two night minimum:  January 19 through February 25, 2015.  Come cuddle by the fireside and treat yourself to a winter getaway!


Last month's trivia question asked what the name "Harraseeket" means, and while our brochure states that it's American Indian dialect for "River of Many Fish", this word is probably a mish mash of mispronunciations and misinterpretations dating back to the 1600's, but we'll stick with the name and meaning that was handed down over the centuries.  This month's trivia question is for all you Robert McKloskey fans:  How did Maine's Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man, get out of the stomach of the whale that swallowed him?  All correct answers win a voucher worth $5. toward food or lodging on your next visit and from all the correct answers a grand prize winner will be drawn who will win dinner for two in the Maine Harvest Dining Room or Broad Arrow Tavern.  You may use twelve vouchers at one time, up to a $60. value.  Good luck and we hope to see you soon!

Best regards,

Penny Gray

The Gray family

northern lights
Northern Lights from Bailey Island, Maine, September 2014     Victoria Clemons photo