Shadowplay: Castine, Maine

Autumn leaves form a lacy shadow on a home in Castine.
A stately Colonial almost looks spooky with early morning shadows racing across the facade.

A stately Colonial almost looks spooky with early morning shadows draped across the facade.

Drive in to the small historic town of Castine on the Penobscot Bay, and you’ll notice that this isn’t the typical Maine small town.  Architecture varies from classic clapboard saltbox to stately homes with mansard roofs.  All understandable, you see, since Castine, a town founded in 1613 by a French trader, served as the capital of Acadia from 1670 to 1674.  We’re talking humble abodes to state offices here.

But the one thing you notice even if you’re not into architectural styles is color:  Castine is filled with white structures.  From homes to churches to store fronts, Castine seems mostly whitewashed.

And it’s this pristine look that captures your attention.  Rarely do you see painted houses, log homes, or even weathered barns.  This is a sit-up-and-take-notice kind of white.  Prissy almost — until you get used to it.  And then you can’t help but fall in love with this tucked-away, off-the-beaten-path Sunday best kind of town in the heart of Down East.

Our month-long visit to Castine included pre-dawn walks to the harbor to watch the sun inch upward from beyond the horizon and into the sky, flooding the town with light.

Autumn leaves form a lacy shadow on a home in Castine.

Autumn leaves form a lacy shadow on a home in Castine.

But it was on the way back to our house that we first noticed how direct sunlight — strong, early morning sunlight — with its long light-filled fingers extended into the town forming crisp first-light shadows on the fronts and sides of those white Castine homes.

Sharp, crisp shadow of a tree branch transforms the side of this home during early morning hours.

Sharp, crisp shadow of a tree branch transforms the side of this home during early morning hours.

With the backdrop of an all-white building, shadows found canvases for the post-dawn show in Castine.  Tree branches danced along the facades in fanciful, lengthy patterns.

It almost looks as if someone drew these fancy branches onto this house facing the waterfront.

It almost looks as if someone drew these fancy branches onto this house facing the waterfront.

And sometimes a bit of leaf color crept into the picture adding a lacy effect.

A bit of fall color forms a contrast with the black and white backdrop.

A bit of fall color forms a contrast with the black and white backdrop.

But we couldn’t watch for long.  Shadowplay in Castine was a short, tentative, early-morning show.

A house on Water Street holds shadows for a while as the sun moves upward and over and then out of sight.

A house on Water Street holds shadows for a while as the sun moves upward and over and then out of sight.

And so we chose to celebrate the ephemeral shadow show for what it was. Short-lived but wonderful.  We consoled ourselves with the thought that there would be a replay the next morning.

But there was just one hitch:  We had to get up early to see the show.

Standing tall and elegant and holding onto its stately tall-tree shadow: Abbott School in Castine, Maine.

Standing tall and elegant and holding onto its stately full length shadow: Abbott School in Castine, Maine.

For more photos and stories about our trip to Maine, click on Autumn Down East.

 

10 thoughts on “Shadowplay: Castine, Maine

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      The Wyeths have a big presence in Maine, and you can see why. We really enjoyed touring the museum in Rockford, and you’re so right — inspiration for their paintings is everywhere. Thanks for taking a look!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      It was fun looking for the shadows after my first morning of discovery. And they don’t last long. As soon as the sun is up, the morning shadows disappear. So, my biggest challenge was getting Bert up and going in time to see them with me. The promise of a moist, delicious blueberry muffin at a local restaurant afterwards usually did the trick!!!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You’re so right, and I should have said so in the post. We’ve been to Maine several times, but I can still remember my overall impressions from my first visit up Route 1: white clapboard houses with glimpses of the sea all along. It’s the little white houses that I enjoy photographing mostly. And if there are clothes on the line or a pile of wood beside them . . . all the better! Thanks for taking a look.

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