We take many things for granted. Like access to a grocery store. But how do you get fresh food when you spend two weeks on an island in Maine that is accessible only by boat?
The island market is charming in its way. Where else does the owner stand behind the counter all day, chatting pleasantly to customers? Where else can you run a tab for snacks and sodas, kept using a calculator and pencil? But the store doesn't pretend to be anything but a convenience store.
Fortunately, a few farmers have responded with creative solutions. This summer, a boat from Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport has been coming to the island on Saturday mornings. I smile every time I see the name of the operation - "Lettuce by Land, Carrots by Sea."
They sell an array of fresh produce, eggs, meat and bakery goods.
Much as I was charmed by the farm boat, I hope it doesn't put the island's farm stand out of business. The farm stand runs on an honor system, with a lock box for money.
Island friends are generous with food from their gardens and freezers. I find this particularly remarkable because we see them briefly and only once a year. A neighbor gave us fresh carrots. A childhood friend of my husband's gave us a pound of frozen haddock, caught in a deep-sea fishing trip. Another friend gave us a giant zucchini, two onions, garlic, basil and potatoes. We also collected windfall apples from around his Macintosh tree, which we quickly transformed into apple crisp.
Of course, we had to eat lobsters. The waters around the island are bright with lobster buoys marking the location of traps. Our friend down the road is retired teacher turned lobsterman. He takes orders for live lobsters two to three days ahead of time, available for pickup in a drywall bucket.
Life is sweet eating local.