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Twinkle, Twinkle: Holiday Lights in Bath, Maine

Call me biased, but I don’t think there is a prettier downtown during the holidays than the one that’s right in my backyard.  Bath, Maine is called the City of Ships because of its long history of shipbuilding that dates back to at least the 1800’s and because of Bath Iron Works, the large and extremely busy shipbuilding company located on the banks of the Kennebec River just down the road from downtown.  While many of New England’s downtown districts are in decline,  Bath’s Front Street district, named one of America’s Greatest Main Streets last summer by Travel and Leisure, thrives, and twinkles especially bright at Christmas time.
holiday lights holiday lights Above: The storefront at New England Antiques, 84 Front Street, harkens back to a time when window shopping was a genuine holiday pastime.

In Bath’s downtown, there are no Gap stores, no McDonald’s  or Burger Kings, not even a Starbucks.  You have to go elsewhere if you want to find the mall or a Walmart, but in Bath, you will find a Reny’s, a growing Maine-based chain that offers high quality goods at discount prices, things Mainers really need like plaid flannel shirts or crampons for walking on icy sidewalks.  Bath’s downtown is full of independent stores, book shops, coffee houses and breakfast joints. It’s got a couple of drinking establishments, including Byrnes Irish Pub and J.R. Maxwell’s, where you can stop for a hot toddy after driving through a nor’easter to get your Christmas tree. You can even get ice cream year round at Dot’s Ice Cream Shop further down the road.
holiday lights holiday lights  But even while it’s been a base for new business over the years, downtown Bath has held on tightly to its history.  The city hall, built in 1928, looms large, its halls decked in wreaths this time of year, its bell tower twinkling with multicolored holiday lights. (Interesting fact: The tower contains an 1802 bell believed to have been cast by Paul Revere. The Paul Revere.)

holiday lights

Adding even more historical flavor and old time charm is the town clock, erected on Front Street near the corner of Centre in 1911, a large Seth Thomas that just keeps on ticking and ticking.

holiday lights

Maybe what makes Bath’s main street district so special is that people still go there, meet there, shop there and hang out there. As a downtown, it is charming and old fashioned, but also  quite independent and mostly free from large scale commercialism, which is saying a lot in these times.

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Etsy Gifts for Gardeners

Cyber Monday is here, which means it’s time to cozy up with your laptop and look for some gifts for your gardener friends and family members. Of course, the best gifts are made with love by hand, but that’s not always possible, given time constraints and obligations. Second best? Etsy.  Here are five shops you should definitely check out.
gifts for gardeners Call this a box of imagination, or a box of inspiration, it’s a Fairy House Kit in a Box, $45 from Fairyfolk of Long Beach, California.  Let the games begin. gifts for gardeners Staying with the miniature theme,  if your gardener friend is the sort who gets stir crazy in the winter, try this little inspiring kit of microgreen seeds. In no time, they’ll sprout, providing fresh, tasty and nutritious microgreens for winter salads. Starter kit is $18 from MaggiesMicrogreens
gifts for gardeners An apron always comes in handy, whether you’re picking flowers or vegetables from the garden, or potting some herbs in the potting shed.  Keep your clothes clean with this sturdy denim version, $38 from whitebarnmercantile.
gifts for gardeners Buy one for your friend and one for yourself, because every gardener needs a bar of scrubbing soap, and because this soap is made in Maine.  You can’t get much better than that, now, can you? The Exfoliator is $6.50 a bar, from Rocky Top Soap Shop. gifts for gardeners Hand forged steel and hand turned American Black Walnut mean these garden tools will last forever. Well worth the $261 for the set, from Fisher Blacksmithing in Bozeman, Montana.

[Ideas + Inspiration]


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