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Day 101 – Monday, January 16, 2012

“Urchin Virgins and The Spreading Of The Sand”

The one-hundredth day on the most northeastern island lighthouse in the US has come and gone without incident, or fanfare.  It was however below zero, and last night I added a scarf, gloves, jacket and hat to my already layered overnight ensemble of hearty threads.  Morning sea smoke wafted across the relatively calm ocean as I now realize it usually does when it’s this cold.

Today I was hoping that Adam and a couple of other able bodies would arrive on island around 1pm with the new and state-of-the-art pellet stove aboard his Boston Whaler.  He did not disappoint.  (Thanks again to Richard Knight for retrieving it from Brewer). The challenge of this operation would be in getting this just short of 300 lb. piece of engineering over to the Keeper’s House as the sixty-yard inclined section of the cross-island catwalk remained sheeted in ice from the weekend.  The tractor would surely be stretched for sufficient traction to make the ascent. The spreading of bucketed sand, creative weight distribution and a great deal of perseverance allowed us to deliver it safely and undamaged shortly over an hour later.



This is the first time I donned my NEOS studded overshoes from 32north, the same Maine-based company that makes Stabil-icers and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with their performance.  They are a wonderful product and if you live with snow and ice you should get a pair.  The stove now sits in the very center of the living room floor awaiting the un-installation of the earlier attempt and the installation of this top-line Harman, which I am hoping we can accomplish later in the week.  Evergreen Hearth and Home (Brewer and Ellsworth, Maine) has so graciously donated this to the project, and offered to send their chief technician out to the island to make sure it’s done right.  He may even spend the night.  I feel warmer already.

After a tour of the tower, grounds and the Keeper’s House the four of us boarded Adam’s boat for the final hauling of his five lobster traps (the limit a Maine resident can have for personal use without a commercial license), which were laying on the bottom of the roughly 10 fathom deep western passage that allows for one of the two ways to enter the Cutler harbor, on either side of the island.  Well there were four traps anyway, with the fifth being spotted banged up and thrown upon the rocky ledges of the southern side of the island, having most likely been relocated there in the last storm.  It will probably stay there for a while.  The “fishing” season has been over for a few weeks and there were unfortunately no lobster stragglers to be had for “suppah”.  There were however a couple of good sized Monkfish, one brown (“Machias Monk“) and the other one a surprising yellow (“Marilyn Monk“).  They lived to see another day…and really?!!  Stuff looks like this?!!  Indeed we live in a world filled with truly amazing creatures.  (Click on them and you will be equally wide-eyed).



Monkfish are often referred to as “the poor man’s lobster” and are especially prevalent in the northwest Atlantic. They are known as “all-mouth”, as the fish is mostly head… and the head is mostly mouth.  They ambush their prey by using their highly modified first dorsal fin as an angling apparatus to lure small fishes towards almost-certain, and almost-always a swift and “swallowed-whole” demise.  To learn more about them go here:

This is also the season for urchin diving, a decidedly insane way to make a living contending with frigid waters, frequently fierce seas, and vexing currents.  It is not uncommon to have deaths each year.

Urchins currently fetch about $2.50 a pound, boat price, and are primarily shipped to the Asian market where their roe, or uni is considered a prize delicacy.

The third trap we hauled held a good sized one and Adam promptly and artfully turned it upside down on the ledge of the helm, and cut it with his fishing knife opening up it’s inner riches.  He scooped the orange gelatinous goo out with a finger and into his palm and we all threw off our cold-weather gloves and slopped it into our mouths.  It was the first time for Kyle, who has just moved here from Texas, and for me.  Slightly reminiscent of caviar, with an oyster-like finish and a chaser of salty sea, I am no longer an “urchin virgin”.  I will partake in their peculiar pleasure again.




Here’s a link to a recent area story on the urchin industry should you wish to learn more:

Adam also brought me two new 1,500 watt heaters from Tim and Kathy, some miscellaneous provisions (as I get off the island less and less), a Maine state flag, took with him a few bags of garbage as that is always an island issue, and threw in a large chocolate chip cookie from A2Z, his and Joanie’s convenience store and the only game in town.  Once again I rely on the generosity and kindness of the people around me.  Thanks Adam Meyer, Arnie Salvesen and Kyle Karnes.






On a random note, I just found out today about the cruise ship capsize and while surely saddening for many reasons, I was struck by the surreal nature of this shot, saddled between two lighthouse sentries.  I am sure they played a key ,role in the survival of those that swam to shore and safety, as lighthouses have for thousands of years.




Lastly, we are starting to take reservations to stay at Little River during the 2012 season.  I suspect it will fill up fast and would urge anyone that is considering this once-in-a-lifetime getaway to move quickly, as we have thousands now following the Endeavor project.   Understand this is not a classic B&B holiday– you are responsible for bringing your food and linens (although I might make you a lobster dinner) – but there is not a more magical and enchanting experience I know of even if just for a couple of days, and this is true for kids and adults alike.  To learn more please go to the Friends of Little River link, and yes barring a yet-determined week or two, I will be your Keeper.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and “Liking” us on Facebook, doing what you can to support The Lighthouse Endeavor (as we still need help), and sending me your thoughtful comments and emails.  Nod to MLK.  I’ll leave you with my “Smoke Of The Day” shot from this morning.  Pics get bigger when you click on them.  I’ll leave the Light on.  Good Enuf.


8 Responses to “Day 101 – Monday, January 16, 2012”

  1. Joe Dowling says:

    I am still looking forward to you posts each day. My friend and former cohort, Ray Graham, is affiliated with “Evergreen”. Good Man he is. Hope you got to meet him. So sorry to hear about Celia. I knew her from having Nick in clas at WA and Kristina ran on my cross country team.

    Cheers to you! Stay warm!

  2. Ronaele Marie says:

    Felicitations and Happy New Year – am following your blogs and very intrigued and heartened at your dedication! Hope the new pellet stove brings you much needed warmth and coziness!
    I’d moved to Washington County in 1972 but hadn’t wandered much beyond Milbridge until 1982 when I discovered Cutler! I spent much of that summer at Bog Brook Cove visiting the puffins, whale watching and being treated to cold bean sandwiches on lobster runs. I also had the amazing opportunity to be the “chef in residence” for a whale watch group at what was then “The Little River Lodge” (I think it’s a private residence now).
    Life took me to Mt. Desert Island for the next 14 years and now I’m living just south of Portland, but Cutler and it’s beautiful village and harbor continues to hold the dearest place in my heart.
    I look forward to reading about your trials and adventures! Stay safe and warm! Ronaele

    • Bill Kitchen says:

      ronaele, thanks for checking in and following. finest greetings to you too. yes, it’s a private residence now, but for sale! please come up and visit, at least for one of our open houses. please let me know when you do!

  3. KYLE KARNES says:

    Hey Billy its Kyle, just wanted to let you know I had an amazing time the other day out there! My mother and I would love to come out soon, as well as looking forward to hanging out for the Pats game! hope you make it out for that. Also if I don’t talk to ya between now and then Happy bday!

  4. Tim Harrison says:

    A great big thank you is due to the volunteers who helped on that bitter cold day to get the wood pellet stove out to the lighthouse. It could not have been done without their help.
    Thank you Adam, Kyle and Arnie, you are the best!!!

  5. Dave says:

    We observed the same sea smoke from our living room on the 16. It looked as though the sea was on fire. Glad to hear that Adam and friends were so helpful. We can’t wait to hear about the difference you will notice from the new stove. So good to know that you will finally get the warmth you so badly need.

  6. Jerry Metz says:

    Monkfish is “the poor man’s lobster?” Yuck! I hope I never get that poor!


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