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Memorable moments of this past year

This is the time of year when we begin to look back at the highlights of the past year. From your music streaming app, newspaper you subscribe to, or that hobby that you follow in an online group, everyone seems to be getting in on the game of listing memorable moments of the year. Never one to miss out on a chance to celebrate the Preserve, I want to kick off this winter newsletter by reflecting on what I felt were some memorable moments of 2021.

First off, let’s celebrate the fantastic people who work at and volunteer for the Preserve. The past two years have at times been tough and our team has pulled together to make sure that our mission “to share the beauty of historic lands and gardens on Mount Desert Island,” is relayed to as many people as possible. This year, everyone collaborated to ensure that our lands and gardens could remain open and with the addition of our delightful team of garden greeters, you were met by someone with a smile, giving out maps and recommendations. Keep your fingers crossed because we are hopeful that in 2022, we can open Thuya Lodge back to walk-in visits.

Speaking of sharing the lands and gardens of the Preserve, this year, between Asticou Azalea, Thuya, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, and our natural lands, we welcomed over 110,000 human visitors. Notice that I said human visitors because at Little Long Pond, we estimate at least 30,000 domesticated canine visitors joined their owners on hikes and walks.

In several newsletters this year, I have mentioned the Framework Plan underway to guide the future of the Preserve. This plan was completed last month, and we are excited to share some of the early projects to emanate from this work. I can tell you that some of these projects will be focused on our people and where we work. Through this exhaustive process, we assimilated the deferred maintenance including the rotted floor of the gardener’s shed at Asticou Azalea, the lack of ample storage space at Thuya, and the fact that gardeners at the Abby have no connection to the internet and email. These are just some of the projects that we will be undertaking in the coming year. Mark your calendars for March 16, 2022, when Claire Agre and Dave Zelnicki from Unknown Studio (who led the Framework project) and I will provide you with an in-depth glimpse of the future plans for the Preserve via webinar.

Next year will mark my tenth year of living in Maine and I honestly think that the past year has been the longest growing season I have seen. From the early flowers of rhodora in late April to the final Salvia flowers at Thuya in early November, this makes seven months of flowers. There have been years when the snow began in early November and did not recede until mid-April. This is likely an unnerving effect of climate change as we are witnessing our growing season getting noticeably longer in just a decade.

This summer we mourned the passing of long-term Preserve board director, Roc Caivano. As an architect, Roc contributed to many of the aesthetic decisions regarding the built structures at the Preserve. Once Roc retired from practicing as an architect, he focused much of his creative energies into painting. In honor of Roc, the Preserve is establishing the Roc Caivano Artist-in-Residence program. We are in the early stages of planning the RCAiR, with hopes of providing more detail this spring.

What were some of your memorable moments about the Preserve this year? I would love to hear about what stood out for you during 2021.

From all of us at the Preserve, wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season and looking forward to the new memories coming our way in 2022.

Rodney Eason, CEO

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