This weekend I had the good fortune to spend four days in Deer Isle, Maine at Haystack Mountain School of Craft. While their summer program draws from a national and international clientele, the Open Door session held each Columbus Day weekend is for Maine residents only. Nearly 100 folks from around the state devote themselves to a long weekend of making glass, clay, fiber, paper, metal, wood or writing.
The participants come from around the state and it is always refreshing for me to get a different perspective of Portland in relation to other cities and towns in the state.
From my bead making classmate, a native of Bangor, approximately 20 years old:
“So Portland is like an hour from here, right?”
Um. No. It’s four hours.
From my twenty-something teacher’s assistant who moved to Portland from Sugarloaf:
“Portland isn’t a real city. It’s a city with training wheels. It’s the perfect first urban experience for people who don’t like cities.”
From the guy in metals who moved to Down East years ago from the West Coast:
“Portland? Haven’t been there yet.”
Hearing all this helps me get off my Portland high horse. Spending four days out of the city also recharged my batteries. I will need my energy to fight off the onslaught of tourists next weekend when hundreds of folks descend into Portland for the first annual Harvest on the Harbor, a celebration of Maine food and wine. While people in mid-coast may have not made it to Portland yet, folks in the mid-Atlantic states are snapping up their $350 tickets to spend three days here to indulge their foodie fetishes by attending workshops on smoked seafood, artisinal cheeses and wine pairing.
Conceived of as an off-season tourist draw, the event gives folks a chance to rub shoulders with honoree Sam Hayward, the chef at Maine’s most notorious restaurant, Fore Street. A James Beard award winning chef, Hayward continues to draw national media attention for his innovative dishes and commitment to local food.
For me, the event means there is a snowball’s chance in hell that I will get an almond croissant on Saturday at Hayward’s bread shop, Standard Baking.