Maine Equals Lobster

The Great American Road Trip With LOBSTER

Rockland, ME
Lobster boat off coast of Maine

Destination: Maine

Book: The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw

And don’t forget your musical accompaniment over at Music Road, where Kerry Dexter will introduce you to a Maine fiddler and a list of “storytellers in song” that hail from Maine.

If only somebody would make lobster ice cream. Oh, come on…it would be slightly sweet, and a beautiful pink color. I think it is a great idea. But then I think lobster anything is a great idea. When I went on a road trip in Maine, I was in lobster heaven.

We sat in a shack at the end of a wooden pier and ate broiled lobster dinners with baked potatoes and corn on the cob. We had lobster salad served on fine china in a glass-enclosed sun porch or lobster rolls from McDonald’s for lunch. When I did not see them on the breakfast menu, I asked for a special  lobster omelet for breakfast, and got one–no problem.

I also wanted to see the lobster boats and learn more about how they are caught and processed. On our road trip through Maine, we took pictures of lobster traps and fishing nets and boats of every kind. When we left Acadia National Park, we even visited the lobster museum and hatchery just outside Bar Harbor. It is called the Mt. Desert Oceanarium, which caused us to drive right past–because, of course, we were looking for LOBSTER. (Sorry, I just checked and it was not presently open, and no word when it is reopening. That is a shame, because it is a great attraction for kids.)

And when Maine come up on the schedule for our Great American Road Trip, and needed a piece of travel literature that sets the stage for a visit to Maine…of course I thought of Lobster–The Lobster Chronicles, a book about a woman lobster fisher, Linda Greenlaw.

Memories came flooding back. Northern Maine in general has its own character–gray weathered buildings, bookstores in every town no matter how small, historic markers commemorating some of American’s earliest history.

Isle au Haut Lighthouse
Isle au Haut Lighthouse

As I read this travel book about life on the speck of an island called Isle au Haut, I heard the rhythm of the sea. Greenlaw’s sentences reflect the shushing of water against the shore.  Except, that is, when she gets angry and her rhythm quickens. Then she chooses harsher words and creates in the reader the frustrations she feels. Her chosen career provides plenty of frustration. She and her father pull in empty traps for days at a time. “Changing the water in the traps,” she calls it. Off islanders impinge on the fishing territory, and the local lobster fishermen’s association–all twelve of them– can’t bring themselves to do anything about it.

She would like to find a husband and start a family, but on this island of forty-seven permanent residents, the single men are either related to her or gay. She describes her people, “whose family tree is rooted firmly in granite, spruce and salt on both maternal and paternal sides.”  Although Greenlaw turned down the opportunity to go to law school, she clearly excels at communication.

In The Lobster Chronicles, you will learn a great deal about lobster and lobster fishing, but you will also learn a lot about Greenlaw, who is open and honest and down to earth. Life on the small island struck me as similar to  life in a small town–arguments that erupt over strange things and keep going for generations; jealousies and mutual caring in equal portions.

Because the lobster season runs May to December, Greenlaw has a lot of time to write. Her first book,The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey(2000), talks about her life as the first female captain of an swordboat, ( ocean fishing) That life became part of the movie, The Perfect Storm. She has also written mysteries (2007 and 2008) and with her mother, wrote a cookbook, Recipes from a Very Small Island. As far as I know, they did not include a recipe for lobster ice cream.

Maine, like all the states we visit, can present different faces in different places.  What is your favorite part of Maine? What means Maine to you? For Kerry Dexter, at Music Road, it means music. Kerry is part of the Great American Road trip with the music to go along with the visit to Maine. Please join the Road Trip conversation. (And please remember that any shopping you do through my Amazon links, gives me a few cents to buy books and rent movies to share with you.)

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

9 thoughts on “Maine Equals Lobster

  1. Thanks for reminding me of that book. I always intended to read it, then it slipped off my radar. I have actually been to the area you describe, not Ile au Haut, but North Haven. My first boyfriend’s family had a home on the island. Life there must be similar to our little town of Wellfleet, since people with money have second homes here and lifestyles that are so different from those of lobstermen, or, in our case shellfishermen.
    .-= Alexandra hopes you will read blog ..Of Sandwiches and Recession … =-.

  2. The history of lobster fascinates me as it was once the “poor man’s steak.” Now it’s a delicacy. I also wouldn’t mind trying lobster ice cream.
    .-= Alisa Bowman hopes you will read blog ..How to Resolve Power Struggles with Your Inlaws =-.

  3. I love Maine. We spent summers there when I was a kid and it’s where we went on our honeymoon. I haven’t read this book, but I did read the cookbook she did with her mom and loved it.

  4. When this California girl lived in Boston for a year, I ventured to Maine with my then boyfriend, now husband. We visited Booth Bay Harbor and ate lots of lobster.

    Do they still have “blue laws” where it is against the law to buy alcohol on Sunday?

  5. I’ve read the first book, too, and you make this one sound worth looking for. I have spent some time in Maine, and where I stay most in Ireland is a place where many work on the waters too, so always interesting to learn more of that. had to laugh at your description of greenlaw’s marriage situation as it brought to mind a song from the irish tradition which tells story of a woman faced with a similiar problem. it’s called johnny be fair. do you know of it?
    .-= Kerry Dexter hopes you will read blog ..Music of Maine: Lissa Schneckenburger =-.

  6. Oh, once again you have made me desire to go to yet another place!! (Also, to run out and read another book)…I do so want to read this book and visit Maine. The East Coast fascinates me- I’ve only been to a couple states on that side and I enjoyed them immensely.

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