First things first: The opening page of Robert Mitchell’s Around Boothbay Harbor calendar is a newsy letter. How many calendars begin with a letter? That’s just one way Mitchell’s calendars are unique. The stunning pictures he selects for each month’s page are the work of a photographer who travels the region on land and water, season by season, year after year, to capture views both vast and intimate. They are a very personal look at the place he calls home and, as he writes, “an alternative to the birds and lizards calendars.”
This year’s letter is more hopeful than the last. It offers a glimpse into the challenges everyone, including Mitchell and his family, has faced, but looks forward “with cautious optimism” to healing and happier times. Instead of a family photo – a hallmark of previous calendars – he accompanies the letter with a portrait of a new addition to “the Mitchell crew:” the cutest, curliest puppy imaginable. What could be more hopeful!
Around Boothbay Harbor is as useful as it is beautiful, with plenty of space to include each day’s appointments and activities. Holidays and full moons are noted. This year, for the first time, there’s an extra page for next January to allow a head start on planning for 2023. A portion of proceeds from sales will again go to Teens for Trails to help young people enjoy Maine. As Mitchell writes, “Yay!”
A Year in the Region
Mitchell didn’t have to venture far from home on Southport to take the January 2022 photo of Cozy Harbor. It was clearly a frigid day; snow covers a neat, white house and a trio of lobster boats. A few spots of bright color on the boats enliven the monochromatic scene.
In February, the sky clears and is reflected in the Back River, viewed through bare branches. A structure covered in weathered shingles is the single occupant of a snowy field. By contrast, the occupant of the March photo is an intrepid kayaker in a hooded parka paddling across the waters around Knickerbocker Park in Boothbay as snow falls.
The snow is gone by April, at least in the calendar; but there’s still a chill in the air in the photo of roiling water and a wave splashing high above a ledge. It’s no wonder Mitchell chose this quintessential image of Maine’s spectacular coastline for this year’s cover.
By May, the sea has calmed and two perfect, blue-hulled lobster boats take center stage in a view of Boothbay Harbor from an unusual vantage point. Beyond the boats are the footbridge and the patchwork of buildings that line the inner harbor. The trees towering above the town are just leafing out.
Further out in the waters of Boothbay Harbor on a perfect June day, a windjammer in full sail shares the harbor with a chunky tugboat and smaller vessels. The view is long, across a ledge toward McKown Point.
Thanks to the Spruce Point homeowner who managed to sink a flagpole into solid granite, Mitchell gives us the Stars-and-Stripes waving from the center of the July page. It’s a pleasure to imagine enjoying the breeze from the Adirondack chair on the narrow strip of grass between ledge and house.
For August, a classic, gaff-rigged sailboat is shown returning to Boothbay Harbor under lowering skies. The background shows the town’s entire shoreline, from the east side to the west.
Often called the most photographed church in Maine, Our Lady Queen of Peace has a supporting role in September’s photo, which features elements of Boothbay Harbor’s working waterfront. Front and center is a long ramp leading to the Sea Pier. An interesting reflection rewards careful examination of the page.
There’s no mistaking October’s photo for any season but autumn. A red canoe upturned on a West Harbor Pond float echoes the colors of the trees lining the shore and mirrored in the water.
While November’s photo could be from any season, the massed clouds on the horizon have a decidedly wintry feel. A sky of rose gold glows above the water, clouds, and distant islands as seen from Pratt’s Island on Southport
The snow and plenty of it return for December’s page. Although the day is sparkling, it will be a few months till anyone can sit on the rough-hewn bench that looks out to sea from the Porter Preserve on Barter’s Island.
That brings us to January 2023, illustrated by a nearly abstract close-up of the interior of a weathered dinghy and its oars. All that remain after that final bonus page are mini-calendars for three years and a page for ordering additional copies and a variety of other items featuring Mitchell’s photos. Around Boothbay Harbor is available at local stores, mitchellphoto.com, and 207-633-3136.