Eight weeks into their Chewonki adventure, Semester 55 students have a developed a deeper understanding of the ecology, history, and communities of the Maine coast and wilderness areas that make the state famous. The kick-off was hearing Erin Haggett, mother of Sem. 55 student Brooke Carleton, speak about lobstering practices and her career working on the water. Erin fishes for lobsters in local waters with her husband, Jody Haggett, on their boat, Angelina. The next day, students visited the lighthouse on the end of the breakwater in Rockland Harbor. Then they traveled by boat to Monhegan Island, 12 nautical miles offshore, where they hiked, took in the spectacular views that have made Monhegan a magnet for generations of artists, and talked with local residents about diverse aspects of island life including transportation, education, employment, art and culture, food, waste, water, energy, and tourism. Inherent limits on resources make islands fascinating case studies of sustainability. Students left their coastal campus during the week of September 21 to spend five days discovering wild, scenic areas around the state. Two groups went on backpacking trips in the Western Mountains, one in the Mahoosuc Range (including Mahoosuc Notch, considered the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail) and one in the Bigelow Range; two groups went canoeing in the North Woods, one on the St. Croix River and the other on the West Branch of the Penobscot; and one group went sea kayaking on Muscongus Bay. These adventures gave students the opportunity to explore some of the places that have made Maine legendary among those who love the outdoors. In early October, students learned about the human communities around them by doing service projects at nonprofit organizations and farms in several midcoast towns. They raked and did outdoor clean-up for the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and the Tedford Shelter in Brunswick and the Wiscasset Public Library; harvested garlic for an elderly farmer in Alna; gardened for the Damariscotta River Association; harvested and processed rutabagas in Warren for a local food bank; and stacked firewood in Palermo in exchange for learning about the history and cultivation of apples from John Bunker, who grows more than 200 rare and historic varieties using permaculture techniques. Back on Chewonki Neck, students completed their solos this past weekend. Many alumni remember their two-day/two-night solos as one of the most interesting parts of their semester. What did they do out there? Read, write, think, sleep, sing, eat, plan, observe the plants and creatures around them, create ephemeral works of art, study the sky. It is rare in contemporary life to be alone, quiet, and content in the outdoors; solos give students a chance to catch their breath and reflect on where they are in the semester and in their lives. See more photos from the past 8 weeks on the Maine Coast Semester here.