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.
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.
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.
And sometimes a bit of leaf color crept into the picture adding a lacy effect.
But we couldn’t watch for long. Shadowplay in Castine was a short, tentative, early-morning show.
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.
For more photos and stories about our trip to Maine, click on Autumn Down East.