Peggy Logan: Staying engaged with nature as you age
By Doug Warren
Engagement with the natural world can be a lifelong relationship and one that evolves over time.
Take the case of Margaret “Peggy” Logan of Neil’s Point in Harpswell, for example.
At 95, Peggy admits, “How I live with nature these days is somewhat limited. But I just love to get my hands in the soil.” She’s still putting together elevated planters (to give her knees a break), installing them along the walkway to her home and filling them with the herbs she still loves to grow.
Peggy’s love of nature grew out of her childhood in Burlington, Vt. Her relationship with Maine began back in the 1960s, when her late husband William “Bill” Logan became the state’s education commissioner. The couple and their three children lived in Wiscasset and Brunswick before moving to Sudbury, Mass., in 1971 when Bill became federal commissioner for education in the New England region.
In Sudbury, the family’s home backed up to acres of conservation land, which helped nurture their love of the outdoors. Peggy and Bill installed solar panels on their roof to heat their hot water–not a common practice in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the connection to Maine remained strong and in 1976, the Logans bought their property on Neil’s Point.
At first, the whole family tented on the land during vacation visits. Then they purchased a passive solar house that was partially constructed in Vermont, brought to Harpswell in pieces and put together on-site. It had an early form of geothermal heat, no furnace and a Vermont Castings wood stove. Bill used his talents as a dowser to find the best site for a well. ”I still don’t buy that,” says a doubting Peggy.
The house was finished in 1987 and the couple returned to Maine full-time after Bill retired. They used the trees cleared from the site for create raised beds for vast vegetable gardens and made their own mulch from branches and leaves. They hauled huge amounts of seaweed from Widgeon Cove to aid in composting and Bill carried rocks on his back up from the shore to build their walkway. “It was such fun working together,” Peggy recalls.
Grandchildren came and were introduced to the wonders of the natural world in a very direct and magical way. “These kids lived in urban settings mostly and never got dirty,” Peggy says. “We made them wallow in the mud!” They also took countless family excursions along Harpswell’s convoluted coastline in a high-sided skiff.
Peggy had bird feeders all over the property and still does today, trying different kinds of suet to see what kind of feathered fowl they’ll attract. “I remember a big tree in a little inlet that was literally white with egrets,” Peggy says with a smile. “You don’t see that many anymore.”
Her love of gardening brought Peggy to the Sebascodegan Garden Club, where she served as president for many years, and helped preserve the East Harpswell Free Will Baptist Church in Cundy’s Harbor. The church, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, is now a part of the Harpswell Historical Society. Peggy was also an early supporter of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor.
Bill passed away in 2008 and Peggy continues to live in the unique home they made together. These days, she can’t go on the hikes and snowshoe adventures she used to share with friends, but she finds other ways to take in the world of nature.
Her daughter Heather, a volunteer with Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, frequently hikes on land trust trails and she takes photos and videos that Peggy enjoys seeing on her iPad. They also drive the back roads all over mid-coast Maine, taking in the sights from Cundy’s Harbor to Phippsburg and beyond.
Peggy credits her lifelong engagement with nature for introducing her to a world of natural wonders and a host of interesting people along the way. “I’m a bit of a dinosaur now, I’ll admit,” she says. “But it’s wonderful living here and I just take each day as it comes.”