From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for the ‘In print/published’ Category




Great to see some excerpts from “NORDIC WINTER,” our latest feature for Maine magazine… love the serene images and layout.

This part of vast Aroostook County can quickly turn into a winter wonderland—especially at a Swedish-style lodge and trails situated more northerly than Montreal, and practically due east of Quebec City.


A blizzard hit last weekend and another is on its way. It’s mid-winter, and in a four-wheel-drive wagon we’ve made it to what looks to me like a mythical Norland—the great white North. In Aroostook County today, the landscape is the stuff of snowy dreams. Except where powerful trucks are pushing angled plows across roadways, a froth of white stretches across the rural scenery, barely disturbed. On Route 167, the color palette includes a cool white edged in blues, the deep green of spruce pine, and every shade of gray. Huge flakes are blowing down on Presque Isle, and we soon turn onto a white-blanketed lane to the cross-country ski destination I’ve read about in winter news reports of Olympic-level athletes in training.



I notice some things right away up in “The County.” (At 6,453 square miles, Aroostook spans an area greater than the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island, combined.) Here, inside and on top of many of the trucks and cars are snowshoes and skis—particularly since we took the exit from I-95 toward Presque Isle. Instead of a graphic of a bicycle, the yellow, diamond-shaped “share the road” signs here show a figure on skate skis. Winter sports definitely dominate. When we park at the Nordic Heritage Center and start exploring, the wood-paneled sauna is plenty hot downstairs, and upstairs, the large stone fireplace is stacked with wood and crackling with fire. An after-work crowd is gathering, hanging up their parkas and saying hello to each other—singles, couples, families. The flurries have started and stopped most of the afternoon.

Built on a hill, the Nordic Heritage Center is structurally impressive. The architecture of the red, wooden lodge building and waxing sheds  nods to the influence of Swedish immigrants who settled in nearby New Sweden and Stockholm. Old photographs, long wooden skis, and news clippings at the Center help tell the story, which begins in the 1870s when 21 families from Sweden were enticed to live in the northern reaches of Maine by officials sent by then-governor Joshua Chamberlain. The hardy immigrants are credited with bringing along Swedish traditions of food and culture, and for being the first to introduce Nordic skiing to America.



Near the Caribou Country Club, a sunny, snow-covered hillside is filled with sledders on toboggans. Here and there, the Swedish flag is flying or is painted on signs, the off-center yellow cross on a field of blue standing out against the snow. Among the farmhouses and cottages of rural New Sweden (population 650), the simple white-painted buildings of the New Sweden Historical Museum and Scandinavian Gift Shop are closed for winter.  Even though the official population of Stockholm numbers only about 250 people, the town center has a couple of downtown businesses that are lively. Originally settled by French-Canadian and Swedish residents, Stockholm has a century-old general store, Anderson’s Grocery, with wooden floors and Swedish sill (herring) in quart jars in the deli case. On the walls is memorabilia from the town, including runner sleds and posters from early-1960s Winter Carnivals, other fare includes aisles of basic pantry stock, hot coffee, Danish pastries, sandwiches, and Goteborg (dry Swedish sausage) sold by the pound. Residents gather at the couple of tables in front for conversation and newspaper reading.

Not far from the store, we park at the Stockholm Town Hall and click into our own skis. I’d heard that this double-looping trail is a good one. Ours is the only car in the lot when we start, and find the groomed trailhead that leads into the woods. After several minutes of passing no one else, we come upon a man on a snowmobile pulling the grooming equipment. He has aluminum snowshoes lashed to his sled and he suggests we also try Jack’s Trail in Stockholm “near the big red barns” on Donworth Road. I’m content with where we are, though. The sunlight is getting lower and slanting through the trees on the skating and grooved tracks. All is hushed. On these trails and at the snow-blanketed grounds around the New Sweden museum, I believe we’ve discovered some of winter’s most peaceful places.

On the return drive, we stop at Eureka Hall, also in Stockholm. Nearing sunset, its vintage lighted sign is a round, glowing beacon on a tall post. As we park, headlights from snowmobiles flash across the road and pull in, one after another. The large building that I learn once housed a basketball court and a bowling alley is now home to the casual Side Track Tavern downstairs, with a dining room upstairs arranged with Formica and chrome kitchen tables near large picture windows. In the tavern are more people than I’ve seen all afternoon. The ceilings are low, many customers speak French, and sledders’ helmets are lined up on tables and ledges under snowmobile trail maps. Several people order hot chocolates—spiked and not—that are served in tall, parfait-style glasses with straws and gobs of whipped cream. We settle in for awhile, especially when I find that the menu upstairs and down includes all kinds of hearty meals just right for travelers just in from the cold—stuffed quahogs on the half-shell, German rouladen, Hungarian goulash, Wiener schnitzel, Thai curry with haddock and shrimp, and even fried zeppole for dessert.

My head and heart are filled with winter now. Later that night, as we’re safely tucked in at our hotel in Presque Isle, the snowstorm blows fiercely. By morning, a new blanket of white covers everything, and we decide to begin early for our return drive. Hot cocoa visions dance in my head as we slowly make our way. (Somehow, I missed ordering one last night.) The blizzard has left the northernmost miles of I-95 looking like little more than a ski trail waiting to be groomed. At times, it’s almost impossible to see the interstate highway’s path, but we make our way. What an interesting, exciting winter interlude it’s been. When we finally arrive at our own midcoast cabin, one of the first things I do is heat up a saucepan of milk. I’m ready for that mug of hot chocolate now, complete with piled-on whipped cream that reminds me of the days just past, drifted like snow.


– Sandy Lang for Maine, January 2014 (photographs by Peter Frank Edwards)

White shirt, white pants, vanilla cone… I’m in. Photographer Sully Sullivan did a marathon day of shooting for CHARLIE, with dozens of people invited in for group or solo portraits on seamless white background, all on one sunny Sunday afternoon in Charleston.

Editor Caroline Nuttall and crew then pulled together “The 2013 Book,” a print publication full of portraits and yearbook-style superlatives.


Some favorite portraits inside are of the “Most Creative” Jay Fletcher (extra points for the suitcases), and the two “Most Desired,” chef Robert Berry (where did he go?) and the beautiful artist/photographer Brianna Stello.




The whole book looks great. Thanks again Sully and to CHARLIE, for the ice cream and for the year-end fun.

Love the cover image of the women of Uproot Pie Co., taken during our road trip to small towns with optimistic-sounding names. We met so many terrific people, and I wrote a feature story for this month’s issue of Maine.


The clouds are puffed out like dandelion fuzz across a blue sky and the sun is shining. It’s a brilliant day for clear-headed thinking. That’s good, because at the hilltop intersection of Route 220 and Route 137 a choice must be made. Are you looking for Freedom or Liberty?




LIBERTY an excerpt
“You better hurry. I got the last blueberry,” advises a woman who’s making her way down Main Street. It’s a Saturday morning in Liberty (population 927) and the library is holding one of its pie sale fundraisers. I pick up the pace and feel lucky to grab a strawberry-rhubarb from the thinned-out tables of home-made pies.

Sure, you can go to a chain hardware store to buy a screwdriver. But here it’s as if you’ve gained access to the old garages, barns, and sheds you see around Maine –the ones filled with tool that manufacturers just don’t make anymore. At Liberty Tool, customers freely plunder through one, two, three floors of clamps and crowbars, boxes of wrenches, and barrels of saws with carved wooden handles. The volume of inventory is fascinating, always changing (every Saturday, new finds are added), and encourages creative thinking about what each object is and how it could be used again. In the air hung with rust, dust, and whiffs of mothballs, I overhear one man ask another, “Have you found it?” He answers, “Not yet, but I’m sure I will.”
Across the street in another wooden building with a front porch is Liberty Graphics, a T-shirt printshop founded in the 1970s that uses water-based inks on organic cotton shirts. Here, bins of tees are printed with designs from local artists, nature, the night sky, and graphics inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. (When I visited many shirts were on sale, and the serve-yourself coffee was only 47 cents a cup!) On the floors above is the Davistown Museum of tools, history and art. The collection was established by Liberty Tool owner H.G. “Skip” Brack, and is housed in several rooms. One room with a high ceiling feels like a sanctuary or a sacred place—maybe it’s the recorded music that plays, a rhythmic chant—or the circular arrangement of chairs and objects. Everything is obviously wrought by hand, and signs let visitors know you’re allowed to touch the axes, hatchets, hammers, and even the whale harpoon. This part of Maine shows true reverence for the makers of the world.


– Sandy Lang, October 2013  (images by PFE)



Hardwater fishing

Took off for February adventure with PFE for our latest feature for Maine magazine. Thank you to friends from South Carolina who came along, and to everyone we met in the shacks and on the ice at Baker’s Smelt Camps.

The full story runs six pages in the Jan. 2013 issue. Excerpts from the fish tales:

KENNEBEC ON ICE. Trying for smelt before the ice melts.

Even in February, the ice conditions are iffy. We’re driving through the Kennebec River towns north of Merrymeeting Bay, looking for fishing camps. Catching a bucket of smelt is our goal. But the frozen surfaces are thinner than usual this year, where there’s ice at all. Photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I drive north from Bowdoinham through Dresden, Pittston, and Randolph. Thin, silvery-pink fish often not much longer than an outstretched hand, rainbow smelt are known to live primarily in saltwater bays, but spawn in fresh water—famously, under the ice of the Kennebec River.

By chance—and because we could see actual ice—we choose Baker’s from more than a half-dozen smelt camps that pop up each year on frozen stretches of the Kennebec River and its tributaries. “This is a sweet spot,” claims Cindy Lougee. The Pittston site is situated at a bend in the Kennebec that creates an eddy; the spawning fish like to feed in the calmer water, she says. Lougee helps owner Mike Baker, a logger, to coordinate the ice fishing at Baker’s Smelt Camps. In a lined notebook, she keeps a handwritten record of the shack reservations. “People book them for a tide, and stay six or seven hours,” she explains. While we talk, guests come in to the wood-paneled office to buy beef jerky or homemade cookies, or just to soak in the heat and conversation. Lougee suggests we go down on the ice and choose which shack we’d like to reserve. She shows us what I think at first is a pizza box, but then she opens it to reveal a bed of seaweed and tangles of long red sandworms.  These, she says, are hand-collected on the Maine coast; some people cut them up into small pieces to use for bait.

To get to the ice, we descend the bank and step onto a narrow wooden boardwalk. The surface is slushy on either side of the planks, but no one seems concerned. I can hear several radios playing from different shacks. We peek inside a few that are empty and see similar layouts inside of each: a plank floor down the center, a woodstove at the rear, and a trough of open water along the length of each side, where the ice has been cut.

A few of the teenagers who work at the camp, delivering firewood and keeping things tidy, catch up with us. One of the young laborers, Steve Potter, is pulling a load of firewood on a sled and says his job on the frozen river has its odd moments. He says, “Earlier, I saw a four-wheeler go by on the river pulling a La-Z-Boy with a guy strapped to the seat for the ride.” Two other workers, Airyn Jewett and Katie Baker, are both from Gardiner. They say they’ve been coming to the camps for years, and that their fathers helped to clear the snow for an ice-skating oval a few yards from the shacks. The teenagers tell us most people hang bait lines from a horizontal post, but they’ve had good luck catching fish on handheld “jigger” poles with a short, heavy line, using the poles to jiggle bait in the water and then hook the fish. It doesn’t look like there’s room inside the shacks for jiggling or much of anything else, but I’m told some of the structures can hold up to six people who are actively fishing. We reserve number 35, a smaller shack with a decent-looking woodstove…

– Sandy Lang, February 2013 (images by Peter Frank Edwards)



Hunt and sip

A year ago this month, I had the honor of mingling with some smart and scrappy hounds and horsesand the tweed-wearing ridersat a fox hunt near Landrum, South Carolina.  This part of the Upstate is great for antiques’ shopping and wine touring, too. From the opening paragraphs of my story, “Art of the Chase,” for Charleston magazine:

Everything is hovering around 30 on the morning of the fox hunt in a rural corner of Greenville County.

The Upstate air is a frosty 30 degrees, and today the count for the Tryon Hounds’ hunt is a field of about 30 riders on horseback with 30 yelping hounds. Anita Williamson, the “road whip,” has offered to let us ride in her truck to tail the party once the chase begins—throughout the hunt, she’ll follow the riders’ progress, open fence gates, and watch for any stragglers—canine or equine.

This is one impressive and natty hunt club. Attire of the men and women at the meet includes white riding pants, black wool caps, and brass-buttoned blazers that are as red as a holly berry. The well-groomed horses sport trimmed or braided manes. The day’s huntsman, Jordan Hicks of Pickens, is tall and trim in a scarlet coat. He opens the gate of a transport truck and releases the lanky, tricolor hounds. The carefully bred foxhounds bound into a scene of winter-bare trees and country pageantry as one twisting mass of yelps and sniffs. The pack is bursting with energy and confidence. Watching them, I wonder if they know they’re descended from old Virginia bloodlines…

You can read more in the print version (a few pages below) or online here.

– Sandy Lang, January 2013  (photography by Peter Frank Edwards)

For the September 2012 issue of Brides magazine, I had the chance to write about the romantic side of Charleston, from oak tree-shaded outdoor settings for a wedding ceremony, to some of my favorite cake bakers, including Jim Smeal, Lauren Mitterer at Wildflour Pastry, and Sugar Bakeshop.

Beyond bakeries, the around-town guide features venues, florists, dress shops, photographers, caterers, and event planners. From the opener:

Charleston is filled with secret gardens, cocktail parties on piazzas, and horse carriages that clip-clop past historic townhouses on cobblestone streets. The young and hip flock here for art and fashion, and the food scene is as hot as a bonfire on a local beach. For modern-day belles from near and far who dream of a wedding fit for a Charlestonian, here’s our comprehensive guide…

– Sandy Lang, October 2012  (photography by Peter Frank Edwards)

“Her grandmother’s fried chicken and creamed corn were the beginning. Cynthia spent many a Chattanooga afternoon in her family’s kitchens. And besides a love for southern recipes, she developed a French sensibility early on – Madeline books in hand…”

I’ve always loved a good interview, and I had a terrific one last year with food stylist Cynthia Groseclose, who asked me to write a bio for her website (excerpted above). After training at Le Cordon Bleu-Paris, Cynthia moved to NYC and then Charleston. That’s where we met, when she began doing some food styling with Peter Frank Edwards Photographs.

Cindy is now represented by Big Leo Productions, and is featured this month on their blog.  Her delicious work has also filled pages in Southern Living, Men’s Journal, Organic Gardening and more. Beau style!

– July 2012, Sandy Lang (pancake photo by Peter Frank Edwards; photo of Cynthia Groseclose by Andrew Cebulka)

Comments Closed

Food, In print/published

Love the Maine and South Carolina connections of this project for Portland General Store (PGS). Last summer, I had the chance to write copy for the company’s first look-book and its line of “handsomely addictive, sea-and-forest based products for the shaving regiment, and beyond.”

Peter Frank Edwards Photographs did the photography on location shoots over a couple of summer days in Old Orchard Beach and Portland. I got to assist with shoot production, and it was a terrific experience working with the founders of PGS, Troy Tyler and Lisa Brodar, who each have wonderful personal style and energy–Troy is a former NYC marketing exec and Lisa formulates the scents and concoctions.

In other nods to the South, PGS chose our friends at STITCH Design Co. in Charleston to create the look-book’s over-sized, 16-page design, and Garden & Gun has just taken note of the company on its website. Some favorite spreads…

– Sandy Lang, July 2012

We had to to do some heavy research for this assignment. For a 10-page summer feature in Charleston magazine, Peter Frank Edwards and I spent several days walking and driving around edge-of-the-mountains Asheville, NC  in search of great food and drink. We found plenty. The opening paragraphs…

The big news the day before we’re to drive a couple hundred miles up I-26 is an announcement by New Belgium Brewing, makers of the tasty Fat Tire Amber Ale, that it will build a large brewery along the French Broad River in Asheville. I get thirsty just thinking about it. But beyond the eco-green, Blue Ridge-bordering city’s reputation for craft beers, crafty residents, and mountain views, it has a new draw as a self-proclaimed “Foodtopia,” and meal-motivated travelers are taking notice. Last year, TripAdvisor ranked the North Carolina hot spot number 10 among the “Top 10 Food and Wine Destinations in the U.S.” That list includes the gourmet giants of New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, as well as Charleston (number four).

All the food buzz is reason enough for a road trip—a few days to eat our way through the groovy-casual town. After driving a little under four hours, we start where any hungry travelers who’ve made no stops along the highway might—at an unmarked, downtown Asheville parking lot near the post office on Coxe Avenue. (A local writer-friend had clued me in about “The Lot,” which was officially designated for food trucks this spring.) Three mobile eateries are parked there when we arrive, and we order from one called The Lowdown, which is painted with a cartoon-like mural of a picnic. Owner Nate Kelly grew up in Asheville and makes us a barbecue sandwich with peppery smoked pork, purple cabbage slaw, and spears of pickled okra between thick slices of grilled bread...

Beyond the food truck rodeo, some other Asheville favorites:  Blue Water Seafood (gumbo), Cúrate (white sangria), Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack (fire-hot wings), White Duck Taco Shop (Bangkok shrimp tacos), French Broad Chocolate Lounge (Indian Kulfi drinking chocolate), Red Stag Grill (cast iron skillet eggs), and The Admiral (everything).

More of the story is available in print or online from, along with the delicious evidence captured in images by PFE.

– Sandy Lang, June 2012

Comments Closed

Food, In print/published, Travel

Love this… as part of our North Carolina seafood road trip feature for this month’s issue of Our State magazine, the editors asked about the music we listened to during the assignment. A playlist from contributors (including PFE, and me) is now online at The Soundtrack.

We drove more than 250 miles of coastline for the story, stopping at 14 seafood stops along the way, including  at the 1950s-era Clyde Phillips Seafood Market, between the bridges on the causeway in Swansboro.

“Inside a small fish house with concrete floors, fishermen recall better days when the catch might include red drum “with scales big enough to be guitar picks.” Near the sink behind owner Jimmy Phillips, an employee heads a couple of pounds of the shrimp that they still have, and then counts out four dozen littleneck clams for a customer. It’s the end of the day, and the men don’t seem to be in a hurry to leave — a couple of them talk about having a fish fry in the parking lot, this week or next…

The complete story is now online at Our State, and the layout of is terrific. A few more pages from the printed version,

Great music, fresh seafood, and salty scenery all the way. For that, I’ll hit the road anytime.

– Sandy Lang, May 2012

Comments Closed

Food, In print/published, Oysters, Travel

Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 04