After spending a week on Deer Isle with her family four of the past five summers, S thought there wasn’t much more left to discover on this little islet off the northern coast of Maine, but each year her family manages to discover one or two new gems.
For instance, there is El El Frijoles – one of the better Mexican restaurants to be found so far north of the border and one whose name is also cheesily appropriate for Maine. The ingredients are locally sourced – the black beans, for example, come from an all-horse-powered farm in a neighboring town – and the food is served at picnic tables right in the owner’s back yard, which also has a sandbox and swing set for the kids.
And down the road from a new nature preserve where S and her family took the kids on a mini hiking trip is Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies. In previous summers, S had thought that it was just another curio shop and had given it a wide berth. She could not have been more wrong, and she’s thankful that her moment of discovery came just as Munchkin reached an age when he could appreciate the magic of this one-of-a-kind, quirky living museum of Maine island life.
True to its name, Nervous Nellie’s does sell jam, and has been doing so for the last three decades. The real charm, however, comes from an ever-expanding collection of original, life-size sculptures that are situated throughout the premises. Created by Peter Beerits, who lives on the grounds, the pieces form an eclectic hodgepodge of styles – some created out of repurposed old farm equipment, and others from whatever odd pieces of wood, metal, and glass that Peter happened to have at his disposal.
There are dozens of whimsical creatures: knights and dragons, fantastic birds, witches, and, of course, a large-than-life lobster that is engaged in an endless game of checkers with a similarly sized tuna fish. The farm’s original buildings, which date back to the 19th century, have been restored to resemble a jail, lawyer’s office, and saloon. There is also a general store that contrasts with the ever-evolving Grail Castle. An hour or two flew by in a flash as S and her family explored Nervous Nellie’s every nook and cranny.
Peter is continuously adding new sculptures, so S will be excited to return next summer to see the new fantastical creatures he dreams up over the course of Maine’s long, cold winter. From the pictures and S’s description, D is also eager to pay a visit to Nellie’s. For one reason or another, he has missed out all four years on what has quickly become a summer tradition for S and the family. Perhaps next year he will finally make it to Deer Isle.