October 12th, 10:55pm
Though we have been visiting Mount Desert Island for seven years now, we have been finding ourselves inundated with new information every day as we explore the nooks and crannies of this island—even basic things like learning that some of the locals actually pronounce “desert” like “dessert” (though nobody really stands by a single pronunciation with any sort of conviction).
We have been so kindly and warmly invited by locals and new friends to see a whole new dimension of the island—places that visitors and vacationers, like us in previous years, rarely have the fortune of experiencing. We have learned to give up on our devices to get us to these places and instead follow the specific of instructions given to us, like estimates of miles down a road or landmarks like old abandoned buildings or specific corners of lakes and ponds—you know, like the “old days.”
Yesterday, we visited the magical, almost-fairytale like forested property of Seal Cove residents, Brendan and Harley, where they have built and invited others to build a variety of tiny forest homes—longhouses, wigwams, and an in-progress timberhouse and yurt. Each of these homes were built from old books for reference, trial and error, and no prior carpentry experience.
Brendan grew up in a solar-powered log cabin that his Mom built before it was “cool” again—his parents part of a movement in the 70’s to buy cheap property in Maine and live off the land. He also shared a story with me about one of his first attempts at building a forest home (a Hobbit-house, actually) as an 11-year old but ran into drainage issue—I assured him he could let himself off the hook for that.
Though the structures are based on traditional Iroquois construction, Brendan and Harley’s forest homes feature some modern amenities like mini-wood stoves and Christmas lights lining the ceilings, powered by a nearby solar panel. The trails on the property lead you to the different structures that inhabit a quiet forest insulated from sharp fall breezes and sounds of traffic on roads nearby, and over forest floors blanketed with bright green mosses and to cathedral-like clearings for bonfires and camping.
The grounds are collectively maintained, built and lived on not only by Brendan and Harley, but also other extremely kind and generous folks we have had the pleasure of meeting in our short time here so far. Lucy, who we met several nights ago and only mentioned living “down the road” (humbly leaving out the coolest part—living in a wigwam), is currently a student at College of the Atlantic and shared with us the folk opera she’s currently working on. Talulah was busily working away on the structure of her future yurt with a drill and chainsaw, while Ali, a Portsmouth native and artist visiting for the long weekend, was tending to a fire in one of the properties communal spaces.
You can stay on the property via Airbnb and experience this magical world yourself—which we will share a link to shortly!