Maybe it’s because we carry notebooks and write things down. We are not sure what it is that makes the people in Lewiston so open and friendly, but it’s striking. Last night we realized that every person we’ve met during our time here over the past few days knows everyone else! It’s a small community of like-minded souls.
We were diving into a mountain of lobster piled on top of crispy polenta and Karen Johnson, our waitress at Fishbones, said her sister was best friends with Gabriella Russell the woman we had just met who told us about her ambitious plan to renovate Bates Mill #5.
She also knows the man who is meeting us this morning to go paddling on the Androscoggin river. She spoke highly of Eric Angren, who we met at his restaurant Fuel the other night, which many have said was the catalyst for the resurgent spirit of Lisbon Street.
They all knew Rachel Desgrosseilliers, the director of the Museum L-A, who has her own fast-moving goal of relocated and expanding the museum into a newly built section of an old mill right on the river. Yep, they were all going to Rachel’s speakeasy party with the prohibition-era costumes, dancing and secret password.
I asked Karen what has changed about Lewiston over the twenty years she’s lived here. “Well, I used to never think of going down town. Now I love it, especially the big farmer’s market that happens in the parking lot over there every Saturday. I come and get my knives sharpened. There are hundreds of people who come.”
Our bicycle touring guide, Phil Savignano, who led us through the pretty country where he lives in Turner to the Nezinscot Farm, knew all of these same people who are busy making Lewiston a great destination. After a 7 mile ride, we enjoyed their homemade bread, sampled some of their 16 different chevre and cow’s milk cheeses, and spoke with
Gloria Varney, who has raised four children here and runs a farm apothecary as well as raising llamas, goats, sheep on 500 acres of rolling hills.
Gloria told us the only sad news of our trip, about how high the price of grain threatens to put many of her neighbor farmers who can’t raise the price of milk to anywhere close to their costs out of business. “But farming is what we do, we will carry on” she told us.
With a date to go paddling on the Androscoggin River this morning, and some city bike trails to explore, we still have a lot of Lewiston left to enjoy. I am sure Jonathan Labonte, director of the local Land Trust, will know everyone we’ve met and complete this familiar circle.