In Another's Words

"The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, this you will become." James Allen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Englishman's Bed & Breakfast - Cherryfield, Maine

New Life for Cherryfield Landmark

The Archibald-Adams House, built in 1793, is one of the oldest houses in Cherryfield  and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This classic foursquare Federal home at 122 Main Street was built by Thomas Archibald in the then “modern” New English Adam style, and although this was also the style of the highway taverns of the day, this mansion was constructed as a family home and housed Archibalds, Adamses and Campbells and their Celtic-American descendents until the mid-1900s. 

Like most old houses, this one, locally known as the Adams House, underwent renovations and updates over the course of two centuries that reflected new ideas and modern technologies.  Not all these “improvements” were kind to the house.   Then in the 1990s the house fell into loving and knowledgeable hands and its original conservative post-revolutionary interior decoration was restored.  A modern country kitchen was added, fireplaces were once again exposed and the house was returned to its original colonial splendor.

It seems entirely fitting that the house is once again in the hands of a person from the British Isles, Englishman Peter Winham and his wife Kathy.  The Winhams met in England on an archeological dig and lived on the plains of South Dakota for twenty years where they worked at their profession and raised their family.  It was the desire for a change of geography that prompted them to consider moving to New England.  As a teenager, Kathy had lived in Connecticut and now, as an empty-nester, she wanted to return east.  She had little trouble selling Peter on the idea.

After a fruitless search for archeology positions, they began an Internet search for a place that would provide both a home and a living.  In the autumn of 2004 they visited the Adams House on the last day of looking at possibilities in Washington County.  The house spoke to their archeologists’ hearts and in January of 2005 they moved in with Mickey, the friendly house cat, and boxes and boxes of “stuff,” but little furniture.  Then began a crash course in period decorating and the work of creating a unique Bed and Breakfast.  

Like native Mainers, the Winhams use the side entrance and stepping into the Englishman’s B & B is like stepping back in time, with subtle differences.  The house is furnished with antiques and period pieces culled from local shops, auctions and estate sales.  Quality reproductions fill in the gaps and touches of chinoiserie, as might be found in any such stately home in a New England sea-faring village, strike just the right note of sophistication, restrained elegance and country charm.

The guest lounge originally served as the Archibald’s formal parlor and later as Judge Joseph Adams’ courtroom.  In the closet museum one can see the judge’s court log book documenting in his own handwriting what transpired there between 1819-1835.  The book has pride of place in the collection of relics on display and was reportedly found under a floorboard in the attic when the house was renovated in the 1990s.  A complete history of the house is available for perusal over a cuppa, for here in the lounge guests are also treated to tea in the English tradition. 

Officially, tea is served to guests who arrive by five o’clock, but being English, Peter can be persuaded to make tea at almost any hour.  Teas of Cherryfield is another new venture for the Winhams and dovetails nicely with the Bed and Breakfast business.  They distribute gourmet teas at wholesale and retail and serve the fresh-brewed beverage to their guests along with a variety of elegant teacakes, including the scones and Eccles cakes for which Peter’s native land is justly famous.   Being in Cherryfield, the Wild Blueberry Capitol of the World, one is not surprised to find blueberry pound cake and blueberry muffins on the teacart as well.

In the Keeping Room, guests may choose a complete English breakfast – a hearty offering of eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomato, baked beans and fried potatoes – or just about anything else they may desire.  The Winhams aim to please and “since we’re small, we can take personal care of guests preferences,” they say, thinking perhaps of customizing their service to provide just what the guest requires, including, but not limited to, catering to special diets, providing car service or taking guests to places of special interest.  They hope to develop services that will fill a niche market and are presently feeling their way along to discover just what their particular niche will be.

It could be as simple as providing a front row seat for watching bald eagles fishing on the Narraguagus River that runs behind the property.  The original twelve-over-twelve windows in the spacious guest rooms provide spectacular views of the river and in autumn and winter, eagles can often be seen perched in the bare trees waiting for supper to swim within range.   In warmer weather, both the veranda that runs around half the house and the screened gazebo out in the yard provide inviting venues for just settin’ a spell with a cup of tea and a good view.   

Especially agreeable guests might even get to see the old Post Office - now part of the proprietor’s quarters – for the Winhams are nothing if not enthusiastic about their new role as custodians of this museum quality national landmark and their new and very welcome venture in historic Cherryfield.  For more information visit on-line at and or call 207-546-2337.           


Somebodies & Nobodies - Book Review

Somebodies and Nobodies
Overcoming the Abuse of Rank
by Robert W. Fuller
211 pp Gabriola Island, BC Canada
New Society Publishers  $16.95

Reviewed by Burndett Andres

“Rankism” is the mother of all isms.  It’s children, sexism, ageism, and racism, are spawn of this most basic form of injustice – discrimination based on rank, which has given rise to all other isms.  Low rank – which manifests as weakness, vulnerability and the absence of power – marks people for abuse in much the same way that race, religion, gender and sexual orientation have long done.  Although far more pervasive, rankism may be harder to confront, for there are no obvious differences in persons, i.e. gender or skin color, to mark its victims.

In truth, as Robert W. Fuller eloquently demonstrates in Somebodies and Nobodies, nearly everyone has been a victim of rankism at one time or another in their life.  Each one of us knows what it feels like to be a “nobody” from some experience at home, at play, in school or work or in some social situation.  In the off chance that one’s own personal dignity has never been violated, we have surely witnessed some instance of  rankism that made us feel uncomfortable or perhaps we have been guilty of  “pulling rank” on someone ourselves.  When an individual gains some measure of power, he/she becomes a “somebody.”  When that somebody then impugns the natural human dignity of anyone below them in rank, rankism has occurred.  In other words, rank itself is not the problem any more than gender or race are the problem; it’s the abuse of rank that is the problem.

Fuller goes to considerable length to explain the need for rank and the legitimate uses of rank versus the abuses of rank and why rank matters in any organization from the family to the international community.  “Within each niche where it has been earned, rank has proven utility, legitimacy, and deserves our respect.”  There follows a detailed analysis of the toll rank abuse takes on personal relationships, productivity, learning, leadership and spirit.  

He explores the human hunger for recognition as identity food and the disorders that can manifest when this need is not met.  “Chronic recognition deficiencies can culminate in recognition disorders (analogous to eating disorders) that are so severe, they take the form of aggressive behavior- even war and genocide.  And once the tables are turned and former oppressors seen as “nobodies,” consciences are disengaged and anything goes.  A simple test for telling if a group of people is in the grip of evil is whether the dignity of people outside the group is completely disregarded.  Equally as dangerous as the much discussed gap between the rich and the poor is the dignity-indignity gap.” 

A closer look at Somebodies and Nobodies reveals that “recognition is not about whether we are a somebody or a nobody, but rather about whether we feel we’re taken for a somebody or a nobody.  The willingness of others to acknowledge us is a measure of their respect.  Unrecognized, we feel rejected; we’re cast as non-persons, pawns in other peoples’ employ.  Recognized, we count, we matter, we may even find ourselves in charge.”

Screenwriter Lowell Ganz (with Babaloo Mandel), Hollywood screenwriters, are credited with saying, “Nobody in America wants to be a nobody.  As a nation, as a society, we’re supposed to get somewhere.  It’s not ‘Well, my grandfather was a carpenter, my father was a carpenter and I’ll be a carpenter.’  That’s very European.  Here, everybody is supposed to reach for the brass ring.  God forbid you fail.”   Fuller explains this hunger for recognition in considerable length in a segment entitled “Up and Down the Status Ladder,” which leads unerringly to a study of “The Somebody Mystique” and the fascination in our culture with those of genius, celebrity, fame and success. 

This examination of how we’ve gotten to where we are paves the way for Fuller to present some suggestions for beginning “The Quest for Dignity.”  Any problem must be identified if it is to be understood and overcome.  Thus “rankism” is the name given to abuse of power and discrimination based on rank.  I found the section “Beyond Political Correctness” particularly insightful, wherein Fuller observes, “If moral instruction is to take hold, it must be given in a way that honors the dignity of learner and teacher alike.  Delivered with the slightest whiff of patronization, it is doomed to failure.  You can’t overcome rankism with rankism.” 

Fuller sees “an unheralded, unnamed revolution...unfolding in our midst.  Everywhere, people are becoming less willing to put up with disrespect.  And, like all revolutions, this one is about the distribution of power.”  In this case it is about the relative power of the individual and he calls it “A Dignitarian Movement.”  “The full democratic vision [of real equality for all] will remain unrealized until its motivating principle – circumscribing rank – is applied to the social institutions that shape our lives on a daily basis,” or, stated another way, until our homes and interpersonal relationships, our schools, churches, health providers and business enterprises democratize authority.

Like any grass roots revolution, it begins with the individual’s willingness and ability to win respect and safeguard personal dignity and extend that consideration to the next person.  “At first mention, the notion of Nobodies’ Liberation sounds like a joke” Fuller says.  “It appears naive and utopian to imagine that nobodies might someday join together as a group and move the world to respect their dignity.  The histories of the black and women’s movements suggest, however, that what begins in the hearts of a few as an intimation of fairness and justice can become social reality within generations.”

“One new idea is needed to fuel this movement: that discrimination based on power disparities is no more justified than that based on differences in race or gender.  One new word can ignite it: ‘rankism.’”              


Organic Blueberry Growing - Charlie Hitchings & Deb Ballam

Charlie Hitchings has been growing organic blueberries for thirty years at Spring River Farm in Cherryfield and actively cultivating them for almost a decade.  On May 10, researchers and scientists from the University of Maine Orono and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) gathered there to observe the results of his labors.  This was the first conference to be held on a grower’s fields under the aegis of The Blueberry Organic Transition Project, which seeks to establish best practices for growers of low bush blueberries who wish to move from conventional methods to organic growing methods.  

Blessed with a beautiful sunny morning, they followed Charlie over hill and dale, through woods and across streams to the barrens on a corner of his 400-acre farm, to observe his methods and results first-hand.   Any time one inserts oneself into the natural order of things, life gets complex, but Hitchings is trying to work with Mother Nature as much as possible. 

Therefore, the compost heap, that backbone of organic practices, was the first stop on the tour.   Here project leader, Frank Drummond, Professor of Insect Pest Management, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maine, began the lively questioning that Hitchings enjoyed throughout the two-hour field trip.  As might be expected, Eric Sideman, Director of Technical Services, MOFGA, also asked detailed questions about composting and made quite a study of this five-foot pile of dirt and granite dust, blueberry and other vegetable wastes, sawdust, rock phosphate, potassium sulfate and horse manure. 

Organic production requires organic rather than synthetic chemical fertilizer, and here Hitchings is abundantly aided by his wife, Deb Ballam, who keeps five horses for breeding and providing equestrian therapy for the mentally handicapped.  As a bonus, they also provide just the organic ingredient Hitchings needs for his compost heap.

The group followed a dirt road that wound onto the barrens where evidence of the past few years of drought was clearly visible.  Some spots that had been fried by the unusually hot and dry conditions have given way to grass.   Here, David Yarborough, Extension Blueberry Specialist and Professor of Horticulture had many questions relating to his fields of expertise - crop management, weed control and field cover.   Organic growing eschews the use of herbicides and the grass that moved in during the drought has subsided somewhat according to Hitchings, as a result of his mulching and weeding efforts.   The occasional application of elemental sulfur has also been found to help lower the PH of the soil and minimize grasses.   

Seanna Annis, Assistant Professor of Mycology, University of Maine, is an expert in plant pathology, mummyberry, stem blight and leaf spot diseases and throughout the ramble, she searched for signs of these problems.  One objective of organic growing is to produce strong plants that are naturally resistant to disease, but these enemies can spring up anywhere at any time as all farmers know.   

The relative benefits of burning and mowing were of great interest to all, particularly John Smagula, Professor of Horticulture at UM and an expert in physiology and culture, crop management and propagation.   Hitchings mows and burns.  He has found that a schedule of mowing and burning promotes growth and production while contributing to the control of pest infestation and disease.  Burning vegetable waste is not permitted by federal organic standards except for burning of diseased plant matter.  Since Hitchings considers burning essential for optimum results in the cultivation of low bush blueberries, he has created his own trademark brand, “Eco-Conserve,” which allows burning, but is more restrictive in other respects than the national standards for organic production.  For instance, to qualify as Eco-Conserve berries, no exotic bees may be introduced into the fields.  Instead, the grower must enhance the environment so local bees will be available to do the job of pollination.   Sprays of any kind, organic or otherwise, are also prohibited, as are “dead animal” fertilizers i.e. those that contain blood meal and/or bone meal.      

The scientists on this survey discussed insects and fertility at great length.  Hitchings’ farm provides good “bee pasture,” a varied landscape full of the materials bees require in order to thrive.  Wild bees need access to water and food, and sometimes oils, resins, leaves and mud are essential.  They also need optimal nest sites, over-wintering habitat and mating sites in order to sustain a strong population of pollinators, and flowering plants that are good pollen and nectar resources for bees must be available from early spring to late summer to insure their presence in numbers.  These flowering trees, woody shrubs and herbaceous plants serve multiple roles as wind breaks, floral resources, mating and nesting sites. 

It is estimated that only 1% of the wild blueberries grown in Maine are grown organically.  These wild blueberries are already highly prized and the present demand far exceeds the supply.  It is therefore possible for growers to get more money per quart from their fresh berry customers, as much as 20 to 50% more in Hitchings’ experience .  As the healthful properties of blueberries become more widely known, it is anticipated that the demand for organically grown blueberries will increase exponentially.  Since wild blueberries are smaller than their high-bush cousins, they have more blue skin surface per quart, making them richer in the antioxidants for which blueberries are becoming famous.  Hitchings has also compared organically grown wild blueberries with their conventionally grown brothers and finds the skin of the organic berry just a bit thicker.  This makes them easier to handle and far more flavorful. 

It is the goal of The Blueberry Organic Transition Project, now in its second year operating under a four-year grant, to add information about organic methods to their already extensive resources on wild blueberry growing.  Go to  for more information on all phases of low bush blueberry culture and to contact Frank Drummond or any of these professionals. 

Frank Drummond plans to have best practices information available for those who want to make the transition from conventional growing methods to organic methods and he’s doing it with the help of experienced growers like Charlie Hitchings who have been at it for thirty years.