>Thuya Gardens, a little Cranberry (island) and a lot of fog.

>It’s Sunday morning here in the harbor off of Little Cranberry Island, just two miles south of North East Harbor on Mt. Desert Island.  We had spent only one night in NEH, as beautiful as it is, because the cell coverage was just terrible and the mooring prices had jumped from $30 to $40 per night in just one year.  There is a very nice lady that comes around in her skiff to collect and she said that transient boat traffic is way down and that she is hearing plenty about the rate increase from repeat visitors.  Based on hearing that I decided to speak to the harbor master about the increase and did so, in the very nicest of ways.  However he wasn’t receptive and actually quite defensive.  I guess I wasn’t the only one to say something.  We will see what happens next year.

We just love NEH and plan to visit again although for shorter times than in the past if the rates stay high.  The harbor is located on the southern end of Mt Desert Island, is quite protected and lined with many ever-so-wonderful homes.  It’s certainly the most high end of the waterfront areas on the island, and lives up to it’s reputation as catering to the Palm Beach in the Winter and North East in the Summer set.  These are the most high end of snowbirds for sure. 
One of the reasons for the pathetic cell coverage, aside from what is probably a NIMBA approach with too much money fighting the cell towers, is due to the fact that the land rises up sharply on all sides of the harbor so that the views are quite dramatic.  On the eastern shore is, what once was a private estate with gardens that were designed by a long time summer resident who left his modest home and expansive gardens to the residents of NEH upon his death in the 20s.  This is where having well heeled residents in the area come in as it’s clearly not the $5 suggested donation that keeps these extensive gardens in shape after all of these years.  It’s clearly countless hours of volunteers and generous benefactors that make such gardens flourish.  
They have a terrific website for Thuya gardens as well as the other gardens in town, the Asticou Azalea gardens, also an amazing spot to visit.  Of particular note on the site is the slide show which is worth checking out of both gardens on their home page. 
As you make your way from their dock (so how many gardens have their own dock?) there is a very well groomed “trail” that heads up the several hundred foot vertical rise to the gardens.   
Along the way there are several lookout points with expansive views of the harbor below. 
In no particular order, here are some photos of the gardens, perhaps not as good as those on their site slide show, but current and mine. 
There is a riot of color at ever turn.  What an amazing place. Clearly the cool conditions favor beautiful gardens.  They don’t experience the blistering August heat that we get in New Jersey and the fog certainly helps as well.  More about fog in a bit.  
They have nicely planned out walking paths carefully raked into geometric patterns each morning it would seem. 
Not much to say except, what a lovely place. 
I was particularly struck by this moss garden.  Lots of water needed here to keep this looking good.  Actually, the woodland around the gardens are carpeted with moss like this if perhaps a bit less artfully arranged.
No garden is complete without a gazebo, or perhaps several to sit in.   Actually, this one was a wishing well with water that was so clear you could hardly tell that it was filled at all.  I expect that it was fed by a spring. 
After our garden tour we decided it was time to “get out of Dodge” and decided on going to Little Cranberry Island nearby.   As we motored over the fog began to come and go.  As this photo shows, it can roll in at a moment’s notice.  For a while it was almost completely clear but after we picked up a mooring off of the town landing it came down like cotton wool.
Fog is funny in that it hardly ever persists over land for long but on the water the visibility can be measured in feet, and the silence is almost total.  And when you hear sounds, it’s very difficult to determine where it’s coming from as the sound echoes off of the fog.  That’s one of the main reasons that navigating in the fog is so unsettling.   “I hear a boat!  Where is that sound coming from?”  Glad that we have radar. 
We went ashore for a walk on Cranberry and enjoyed the local scenery.  This Congregational Church was very pretty.
The Catholics don’t seem to be quite as well funded but the building is very nice.  Not the same as in our town where the opposite is the case. 
On the waterfront there are a few small galleries showing the work of local artists.  This building has been here for many years and we were told that when the winter storms come up the waves come up from under the building and pop up the floor making quite a mess.   However, as tenacious as the independent islanders are inclined to be, they just get out the nails and pound the floor back into place.  It’s refreshing to hear about such things in a country where everyone seems to be looking to someone else to fix things for them it doesn’t go quite right.  Flood insurance here means shoring up the floor with more timbers an nails.  Very refreshing.  
There’s a very nice pottery gallery run by two women that live here year round, making pottery all winter and selling it in the summer.  Brenda was very taken by their work and purchased a number of clay buttons to  make into a bracelet.   Their work is really quite nice as is witnessed by their website for Kaitlyn Duggan, the potter.  She came to the island several years ago, married a lobsterman and has made Cranberry her home. 
She has even personalized an old granite pile in the harbor with one of her urns.  Very ephemeral in the fog.  If  it’s an advertisement for her work, it’s subtle and in very good taste. 
While the month of July wasn’t foggy at all, the last few days have more than made up for it and today is likely to be the same.   View?  Hard to tell as you can’t see more than about 100′.  However, a side benefit of all of this moisture in the air is that you can grow a garden most anywhere as this “moss garden” in the corner of the building on the dock attests. 
Actually, this is the front door of a lovely little seasonal restaurant on the island that does a brisk business in the evenings, served by ferries from both North East and South West Harbors.  As the food is quite upscale, they draw heavily from off island folks and seem to do very well. We took time to enjoy a beer at the bar along with an order of steamed mussels before heading out into the fog to return to Pandora, dinner and a movie. 
Well, Brenda’s reminding me that I am being antisocial and should wrap this up now.   I hope to have coverage, and more posts in the next few days.  That’s all for now. 

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