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Bill Dorrity Bill Dorrity
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Out and about in the Maine wild

January 16, 2013
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Wreath season and the Rise and Shine Caf

This week I thought about the wreath season that just passed. It is amazing the work that is required to make a balsam fir holiday wreath. I had an opportunity to go with Mike and his wife Emily early in the season to follow the process in a multi-million dollar income producing industry in Maine.

We left my home around 8 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2012. The day was going to be perfect - we were heading out in the woods! Mike drove about 15 minutes and turned onto an old dirt logging road. As we worked our way into the woods, Emily explained to me that written landowner permission is required in Maine to harvest fir tips; she showed me the permission slip.

Arriving at the perfect spot to tip, Mike stopped the truck and announced, 'Here we go!' Each put on a hunter florescent orange vest, hat and gloves, and the operation began. First they both chopped down a small spruce about six feet high and took all limbs off except for the bottom five or six. Emily said that creating poles like this would allow them to move the tips back to the truck. Mike instructed me how to take the tips from the balsam fir tree, which is very easy. If you take your arm and reach towards the trunk of the tree until the outside tip is at your elbow, simply snap the branch off at that point, about 18-20' in length. This makes the perfect tipping material to make a wonderful wreath.

Three hours later, we had collected all the tips needed for at least four days of wreath making. Emily decided that we would make a wreath right in the woods. The 12' wire ring, a roll of florist wire and tips were all we needed to start. She initially wrapped some wire on the ring; next, one 18' tip was broken into three pieces, creating what looked like a fan. She then made two wraps of wire on the wire ring to hold the tips in place. She did the same process again, except this time she placed the bunch of tips on the reverse side of those she just placed. Alternating side to side, in no time at all she had a beautiful 22' outside diameter double-sided balsam fir wreath.

We decided to decorate this wreath right there in the woods with some milk weed pods, white pine cones with just a little white pitch and some bright red wild cranberries. What a beautiful sight! This wreath is without question 100 percent made in Maine.

They gave me a ride home and I thought this wonderful day was coming to an end. Well, often some of the best times are not planned at all. I went in my home, and after a few minutes my mom, Joyce Mayer, showed up. I asked Mom if she wanted to go for lunch, and she replied with an emphatic 'yes.'

We decided on the Rise and Shine Caf located on Main Street in downtown Winterport. The owners, Leslie and David Wilson, welcomed us with smiles and conversation. Six booths and tables, four stools at the counter, all full. A group near the counter said, 'Sit here, we are just leaving - and try the haddock; it is great!' (All four of them said that almost at the same time.)

David came out from the kitchen and asked if we wanted a drink. We both requested water 'And we would like to order the haddock on the recommendation of the prior group.' It was not very long before Leslie brought our lunch to our table.

The plate was piled high with golden brown haddock, piping hot. The fries were cooked to perfection and the coleslaw was fresh and just looked perfect. The haddock was fresh, coated with the most wonderful batter I have ever had, light and cooked golden brown. We both agreed it was the best we'd ever tasted. The coleslaw was hand cut with the ingredients added each time an order was received.

Both of us had to agree this meal would easily have been over $30 for the two of us in other places, but for under $16.50 for both meals including a tip, this was a clear value. We had to concur that this little restaurant tucked away in Winterport is without question worth the visit.

We have been back many times, and every time the meal has been top quality and the service has been outstanding. This is a trip you need to make. Check them out between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Although my ventures in the Maine wild have become a little closer to home with the onset of cancer, I am enjoying meeting all of you. I am proud to say that people like Mike, Emily, David and Leslie exhibit that true entrepreneurial spirit found only in Maine.

Remember when you are out and about in the Maine wild, your safety and the safety of those with you must be your number one concern. So go out and have a great time. For suggestions for future articles or comments, please email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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