June 22, 2014. I spent a sunny beautiful day in Portland starting with a visit to the Portland Museum of Art to view some works by Winslow Homer. Though he is best known as a marine landscape painter, I first heard of him back in high school when I was voraciously reading about the Civil War and saw a drawing of The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty. Now I got to see it hanging in the gallery of the Portland Museum.
Afterwards I walked through downtown pausing briefly in front of the house of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and continued to Duckfat for lunch. Duckfat have their own charcuterie and cooks their belgian style fries in duck grease. I think it taste like ordinary greasy fries and their cured meat was just passable. What really made this small restaurant recommendable was the ambience. I sat in the side bar in front of a black magnetic word-board filled with interesting thoughts by previous diners. Here’s a few I like:
After lunch I grabbed some coffee from Starbucks, a potato donut from Donut Hole, and ambled towards the Cryptozoology museum. Cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unknown animals that remain unverified by science. Creatures such as Yetis, Bigfoot, and Lake Monsters that people view as urban legends but which the museum argues that there are compelling evidence of their existence. I personally don’t believe these species are real but it was a fun visit anyway. Traveling is all about being open-minded, right?
Armed with alleged proof that Nessie exists, I drove towards the water to see a very cute lighthouse: the Portland Breakwater Light. Nicknamed the “Bug Light” because of its tiny size, it sits in a beautiful small park with a panoramic view of downtown across the harbor. It’s a nice setting for a picnic and during my visit people were flying their kites.
I left downtown and drove to Cape Elizabeth to visit Maine’s oldest functioning lighthouse, the Portland Head Light. George Washington ordered the construction of this lighthouse in 1787 and it was completed in 1791. Bordered by the Fort Williams Park on one side and the rocky coast of Maine on the other, it makes a quite photogenic scene. It is said that the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would often visit this lighthouse and was the inspiration to his poem “The Lighthouse.”
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light! …
“Sail on!” it says: “sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man neared unto man.
Just below the lighthouse, a stone marks the spot where the ship Annie C. Maguire smashed against the rocks during an 1886 Christmas eve snowstorm.
And here I bid goodbye to Portland and continued to explore more of midcoast Maine.