If you exit off of 95 right past Maine’s mighty capital of Augusta on to a little highway we call 3, it will run you into the rolling hills of Palermo. Maine. In stark contrast to the bustling metropolis of the fabled Palermo in the old world, this one here in Maine is home to about 15o0 or so. And quite quaint. The city center’ish is denoted with a United States Post Office, a flower shop, and a meager statue of what most likely denotes a storied founder. I’m certain it briefs you with a past of how he traveled the pond only to find himself shipwrecked in Maine’s bayou surrounded by a local Indigenous population. I assume he then hiked himself inland, trekking across landforms of past dreams. Long story short, (because it’s fake and is not actually what this blog is about) when he awoke he found himself laying in what is now Palermo, Maine.
If you happen upon this cute little spot you could stop in the Palermo Historical Society to get the real jist of the origination. Or, your better option, is to make an effort to bump into Caroline (the aforementioned famous Christine’s mother.) Caroline is by all accounts the liveliest member of the community. While she juggles her plethora of craft projects, some involving old fashioned power tools and others involving plain ole broken glass, she volunteers downtown at the Historical Society and other town organizations. And as an aside, if you are in town August 15th for the official Palermo Days parade you can see both floats Caroline is making for this special occasion.
This past weekend my wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to her picturesque estate to help with miscellaneous projects and partake in a classic surf and turf dinner. We walked the grounds smelling and consuming any and all ripe fruits and vegetables while peering at the transformative animal kingdom of magical insects. We took in the grandeur and supreme melody of the country as Caroline offered a recent story of catching baby trout in a seasonal brook that babels its way though the grounds. I was exceptionally taken by how natural everything grew and harmonized with one another, as if to say, they were all working together instead of competing for resources. Appropriate shade was provided from parental trees to mature hastas that easily spanned three feet in diameter and walking paths wandered through cascading willows. After our enchanting stroll we enjoyed some fresh muscles, tuna, and cucumbers marinated in vinegar to fuel up for the onset of afternoon chores.
While there was some heavy lifting involved (a 500 pound antique cast iron wood burning stove) our teamwork mentality and superb direction made short work of the chores which was capped off by the erection and eye leveling fence work. And so, to project an official amount of joy and accomplishment, we drank. A collection of local beer, Rosé, and whiskey were spread around the table to accompany the bag of salty potato chips and friendly game of cards.
With dinner scheduled at 6, a mere hour away, the cribbage game reached a natural half time and the group began to perform a dance of preparation. Zucchini stuffed with a sauted mushroom and crab mix was on first and filled the room with an aroma tour-de-force only to be followed by a symphony of the shucking of corn. The room was immediately transformed and then with the lighting of the grill the performance annexed a new stage.
Fire. Smoke. Machismo. With the grill in close proximity to the fire pit the outdoor stage carried elements of both comfort and excitement, while back at stage one the lobsters were getting ready to take their final bath. The night was really coming together.
With the table set in full Americana; steaks, corn, and cucumbers were passed around to accompany lively conversation and more drinks. Surf and turf was off to a running start (please picture moseying cattle here) only to be quickly followed by a bottom feeding delicacy in prime soft shell season; lobster. Now this is my kind of dinner! But, if you ask Hank, surf and turf can take many different forms. One worth remarking was the event where he and some friends went fishing and as a back up plan packed hotdogs for the off chance of not catching a proper dinner. As luck would have it, dinner was indeed caught and the turf in this equation (my guess, pork) was consumed right along side. Either way, in both circumstances the food really comes secondary to, good friends, and great conversations.
Thank you Caroline, for a fantastic day!
Take a look at some of what my camera caught.