Yes, it was the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens that drew us to Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor this past weekend, but we found the Christmas light show to be only a part of the attraction.
One of our favorite haunts in the harbor is the 1901 footbridge that connects the western and eastern sides of town. It’s renowned as being the longest wooden footbridge in the USA. And so as my guy settled in to watch a football game before heading off to the gardens, I set off to stretch my legs, the bridge being only a block or so from our “front” door.
We’d booked a brief stay at The Harborage Inn, where our wee room was quiet and comfortable and we especially loved the pillows! Huh? I’ve become a bit of a pillow connoisseur in recent months–well, not really, but I know what I like and what I don’t and I wanted to take the pillows from our room home. But my mom would be proud for I refrained from stuffing them into our bag.
Standing on the bridge, I could look north (or was it south for so confused do I get when I’m on one of Maine’s coastal fingers), and see our “place” and its dock, the last in line.
Halfway across the bridge sits the bridge house, which has served many functions from bridge tender’s house to art gallery, and it’s accompanied with rumors of a prominent position during Prohibition when rum was smuggled through a trap door. This weekend its only activity was to provide a Christmas postcard look.
Actually, much of the town was decked out in Christmas finery. Greens and reds and golds and a variety of other colors defined this seaside locale.
But . . . others had their own display to share, including a non-breeding loon who spent some time by the bridge.
Though I stood still, it was in constant motion like the waves that surrounded it.
There was a reason–feeding time! The water shallow, a crab was captured in a flash.
And then played with–dunk . . .
toss about with a happy face, . . .
dunk again, . . .
grab, . . .
let hang out of the mouth much like a teenager does a mouth guard, . . .
toss in the water one more time, . . .
and then swallow. Notice the bulge in the loon’s neck? And the glow of the sun on its bill?
A final gulp and the crab was completely consumed. A meal complete.
Finally, back across the footbridge I walked and near the shore the pigeons drew my attention. Okay, so they are pigeons. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they are rather exotic.
And curious. And colorful. Pay attention to the colors. They provided a foreshadowing of what was to come.
On Main Street another exotic, aka invasive, caught my attention by its song–that of the Eastern Starling. But those colors–again a sheen and pattern to admire.
There were more traditional colors on display everywhere for this is a season that Boothbay has embraced.
Back at the room, my guy was ready to depart for our next destination, but he had his radio and ear buds ready so he could listen to the Patriots football game.
We’d no sooner stepped onto the property of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens when I heard him exclaim. Apparently the Patriots lost on a play gone afoul, but you would have thought it was the end of the world. Despite that, he quickly turned his attention to New England’s brightest and most colorful display.
We arrived for the 4pm entry so we could watch the world transform before our eyes.
The sun set as we moved from one section of the garden to another, remembering along the way our past visits in warmer months. Typically in summer and early autumn our eyes were drawn to the display of colors from foot to hip, but on this evening, it was from foot to sky that we needed to note.
With every minute that passed, the scene changed and we were grateful to our friend Marita for the suggestion to arrive at 4 and watch the transformation.
Silhouetted trees and iced reflections enhanced the experience.
We were wowed by the fact that over 650,000 light bulbs had been strung to create such a scene. How? When? Who? We learned the next morning from a local gentleman with a handlebar mustache who pulled up a chair to join us for a chat before our breakfast arrived at a local bakery that volunteers help, the process begins months prior, and the locals are invited to attend for free one night before the event opens to the public. 650,000 bulbs. My hardware guy tried to fathom that sale.
In the twilight, beauty shown.
But it was in the darkness that magic beset the scene. And even though we moved among thousands of people, we managed to find spots to ponder the glory.
Our initial journey lasted about an hour and then we spent an hour more circling about again, revisiting favorite spots before taking our leave.
If you go, note where you park! Yes, that’s a warning. We thought we’d walked further to the entrance than we had. Thank goodness we remembered a few key features about our parking spot. Periodically, we did press the key fob as we looked for familiar lights to come on. At last . . . success.
The next morning found us up and out early, again enjoying the footbridge, though it was a bit slippery with frost.
I walked across, but my guy chose to run. Can you see his breath?
And yet again, it was the pigeons that pulled me in. Notice the color of those neck feathers.
And the need to puff up in an attempt to keep the cold at bay.
I’m always amazed how birds can transform from their skinny selves to plump renditions in an effort to keep heat in and stay warm.
Again, those neck colors. Don’t they remind you of the nighttime display?
And then I found them reiterated in the rocks below.
I could have stayed on the footbridge forever (perhaps I should move into the bridge house), but at last I moved off. Not before, however, marveling at the lobster buoy decoration that marks the bridge’s center.
And the town reflected upon the calm water.
My walk continued along water and some town roads. And I had to chuckle for though I wasn’t haunting my usual neck of the woods, old friends still made themselves known.
I did note some differences. In the woods, a red squirrel chooses rocks or downed trees or sawed off tree trunks upon which to dine. Beside the water, apparently any railing will do.
The mergansers seemed to have arrived not too long before us for just a week or so ago I saw a large flock of them on Kezar Lake in Lovell. Was the middle one getting the last laugh in my honor?
And then there was a crow who shouted, “Har, har, har,” over and over again. And I heard a woman respond to him and thought he must be a regular. He seemed soooo black in this town of so many other colors. But apparently he had his own colorful character to maintain.
Colors. Everywhere. Into. The. Focal. Point. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Gardens Aglow. Worth a visit. Just remember, it’s more than the gardens. And even more than I noted. Boothbay Aglow.