The Nezinscot River drains the Oxford Hills of Western Maine, rising out of Abbott Pond south of Rumford and running south and east to its confluence with the Androscoggin River in Turner. From Buckfield to Turner, it’s a pastoral country stream — flatwater, no current, lots of cows and farmland — until it reaches Turner, where there’s a four-mile stretch of Class II+ whitewater awaiting the eager paddler each spring. It’s a great place to learn to read whitewater and to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with those whitewater paddling strokes!
About three miles downriver from the dam in Turner, intrepid canoeists pass the Nezinscot Farm, a picturesque collection of llamas and gardens with one of Maine’s truly unique country stores. Situated on ME-117, the Nezinscot Farm Store offers organically-grown and homemade goods, along with some of the best food in south-central Maine, all of it grown organically and sustainably processed right there on the farm. This is a favorite destination of ours for weekend breakfasts, and so it was that we took our last scooter trip of the season to the Nezinscot Farm Store.
It’s always a tough call, deciding when to put the bikes up for the winter. For me, it’s a combination of temperature and weather. Once the air temperature drops below 40F, it’s just too cold to be fun riding, no matter how much you enjoy it and even with the heated grips on the Vespa. More importantly, though, as the temperature drops into the mid-30s, the possibility of black ice starts to rear its exceptionally ugly head, so — again — 40F is the cut-off.
But it’s also true that the riding season, for me, must end before the first snowstorm — at least, the first snowstorm significant enough to require the highway department to put down sand on the road. Sand and gravel are anathema to safe motorbiking, especially in the corners where it seems especially prone to gathering. The deleterious and quite horrifying impact it has on traction cannot be believed until it is experienced, but there is truly nothing like having your front tire start sliding sideways in a curve, when you’re already leaned over. Like I said — riding ends before the sand is applied! And it won’t resume until those road-cleaner brush machines have done their work in the spring! I should mention, however, that there really ARE some people who ride all winter — check out Steve Williams’ outstanding blog “Scooter In the Sticks”, as one great example: Www.scooterinthesticks.com
But anyway, with the forecast highs for the coming week remaining in the 30s and the possibility of snow on Tuesday, we regretfully decided that the time had come. What is required before putting the bikes away for the winter is to fill up the gas tank and then add a fuel stabilizer (we use marine Stabil) to protect the gas from devolving during the long winter months. Once the gas is in the tank, and the Stabil is in the gas, one must ride a few miles to mix it all together — and thus, our trip to the Nezinscot Farm.
Here is the sign that greets you as you enter the store:
The Varney family grows and makes almost everything in the store, from organic meats and vegetables to muffins and breads to wonderful sandwiches and breakfasts! Here’s a few photos to illustrate what I mean!
Note the handmade soaps and the wide variety of home-canned goods! And if you’re into homemade breads, muffins, cookies and scones, this is the place to go!
Truly, the variety of homemade and locally-sourced goods is astounding:
Upstairs is a fascinating collection of textiles and the looms upon which they are hand-woven. Here Emma is seen spinning yarn with an old-fashioned drop spindle:
Emma was kind enough to consent to being photographed for this blog by a complete and total stranger, so thanks, Emma! The Varneys offer classes here on the second floor of the store in a variety of old-time spinning and weaving techniques, using the wool from their own llamas raised on Nezinscot Farm. Here are some photos of the goods and equipment that you can view and purchase upstairs:
Https://nezinscotfarmstore.com. Taken altogether, the Nezinscot Farm Store is a one-of-a-kind place worthy of a visit from anywhere in south-central Maine! Perhaps the easiest way to find it is to turn east on ME-117 (the Turner Center Road) from ME-4, approached through Auburn from the south, or Livermore from the north. Organically- and locally-grown foods, homemade textiles and a welcoming atmosphere all conspire to make the Nezinscot Farm Store one of Maine’s truly unique destinations. And the breakfasts are to die for!
I suppose, then, it was fitting that the leaden skies were spitting snow as we pulled into the driveway, replete from our sumptuous meal but pretty well frozen from the return ride home. Now the scooters sit idle, emptied of their summer gear and quietly sipping electricity from the Battery Tender plugged into the outlet on the garage wall. I suspect it will be some time before I have occasion to make another post to this blog, so permit me to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to follow it this year. Our hope is to ride to Prince Edward Island next summer, along with more trips through Maine and northern New England. Of course, we may (like last year) get another mid-December warm spell so we can take another ride, but until the next post — happy holidays and a healthy 2017! Thanks again for your kind support of this blog!