June 20, 2010
Sometimes you find a place that takes the hustle out of the bustle and presents itself as an authentic travel destination without fanfare. Deer Isle/Stonington is such a place with its rolling hills, Penobscot Bay vistas and the unpretentious nature of a community that has been around for more than 250 years and will probably be around for 250 more.
The gateway to Deer Isle is a suspension bridge that was originally built in 1939. Its two narrow lanes rise up over Eggemoggin Reach and deposit you onto an island that has not been overrun with t-shirt shops and gift shops with the latest mass-produced souvenirs from China, but with family run businesses and products made by local craftsmen.
On a recent day trip with my wife and 7-year-old son, we set out to poke around the area. The first stop was Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies on Sunshine Road in Deer Isle. On this day the road lived up to its name as the sun shone brightly and temperatures were in the low 80s with a comfortable sea breeze to keep us refreshed.
So what is Nervous Nellie’s? If you guessed that it’s a place that makes tasty homemade jams and jellies, you’re right; but it’s also a working art studio/sculpture garden. Started about 25 years ago by Anne Beerits, creator of the jams and Peter Beerits, creator of the art, Nervous Nellie’s is an attraction you must see to appreciate. It is a place that takes quite literally the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” as Peter’s sculptures have been cleverly cobbled together with scrap metal, old car parts and just about anything else he could masterfully manipulate into whimsical characters that are scattered about the grounds.
We started by visiting the “Grail Castle” in the woods next to the Jelly Kitchen. Outside the 10-foot wooden walls, knights stand guard. Inside the king and his court dine on a long table as they feast their eyes on the damsels that would make any tin man’s heart skip a beat.
We wandered from the woods to the Wild West with a visit to the saloon to witness the hand-carved mannequins playing poker. Next door you could linger with a game of checkers on the front porch of Red’s Lounge, or visit the old general store.
Our last stop before departing this world of whimsy, was the Mountainville Café, where we sampled delectable jams and purchased one of the unique Maine Float Rope door mats. These colorful ropes were once used by lobstermen to tie their traps together. Now the rope has been woven into colorfully creative door mats that are sure to be a conversation starter in your home.
Nervous Nellie’s makes for a fun little detour where you can spend 45 minutes so and return home to tell you friends about for years to come.
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