No swimmin, but is swimming ok?
Also referred to as three inches of partly cloudy
The first weekend at camp for the winter is anticipated, looked forward to, and the reality is always even better we remembered. Not many things are like that.
We unloaded our gear, the path was blocked by a huge mound of gravelly snow from the neighbor’s plow, but we hauled our stuff around and down the icy hill. Challenges just make it better. There were turkey tracks all around, lots of droppings, and a number of turkey paths. They have been roosting here. Drosselmeyer, our stout Maine Coon cat rescued last year squirmed out of my arms and was gone some worrisome hours, but came back when he got cold and hungry.
Being on the ice is always more breathtaking and magical than in memory. We started the wood stove, cut holes, set traps, and stood in the middle of this flat frozen field, the pond.
A bald eagle cruised by. We filled pails of pond water for dishes, and settled in. Two flags, no fish. But no cares.
No cares, and no frills. The snow tracked into the kitchen stays snow, but in front of the stove it is warm from knees up, so we curl on the couch and read the first chapter of Call of the Wild. This is our community selection for The Big Read, and while we were not members of the selection committee, it is an excellent choice. Wind howls, temperature drops to an unknown digit, and we warm ourselves by reading aloud. My husband Dennis, his two grandchildren (and my friends) ponder survival, and the stripping away of civilized behavior. How could Buck steal, and let a fellow dog take the rap? His choice to live, over dying, but civilized.
We play charades, and eat lobster bought at the wharf and cooked in melted snow, stoke the fire, and sleep.
It is has warmed up to 4 degrees when we venture out again in the morning. The sun is coming up over the trees. We do yoga, sunrise salutations in the middle of the ice, stretching out brilliant white around us as we stretch into a bulky snow-suited version of downward dog.
Then bacon and scrambled eggs cooked on the wood stove. The small cabin is filled with bacony smoke. I never cook it at home, the smoke alarms would be screaming, and it would be stinky there, but here it is camp. And delicious.
Duncan catches a fish. We cross the lake and follow a hare’s tracks in the ice, who foolishly crossed the wide expanse. We see the fox track, following the hare, but do not see the outcome. Survival. Or not.
We pack, and return to a world that has computers and plumbing and hot showers. I would not want to live without them. But I look over my shoulder, and am so very grateful that camp is there, and I can’t wait to go back.
The first bird I saw this year was a raven. I sit outside, in a chaise lounge in the snow, to write about camp, and two ravens circle above my head. Playing, touching and cooing. I swear it looked like courting, but way too soon. Then I realized it is already second week of January, and I have seen ravens starting nests in early February.
39 years of making home made cards, and I cannot remember them all. There were a few lean years, years I couldn’t afford it, didn’t have the time, should have been working instead. But I never missed a year.
I made have homemade cards for family birthdays and events since I was in kindergarten. When I was sixteen, I decided to mail my own Christmas cards instead of just being a name on the family card my mother sent out. We were making lino cuts and prints in art class, and so my first card was a lino cut, holly berries maybe.
The cards have evolved from those simple one- or two-color linoleum cuts, to hand-colored photocopies of pen and ink art, to printed cards, often with enclosures and usually with a story to tell. They are labor-intensive. Cards have included folding, gluing, stapling and even sewing.
I have gathered tree twigs, donning headlamp to pick a few more samples late one night, and terrified the neighbor, who could not figure what that little light was bobbing away up in the woods.
I mixed and packaged mulling spices, researched the history of riddles and learned about weather lore.
Each year a new idea emerges. Then comes the fun of researching the subject, figuring out how to construct the card, and finally putting it all together. To select colors, create or find art, choose the envelope and make a label takes time. In order to be finished in time to mail the cards in December, I
usually need to start in early November. But I think about next year’s card all year long.
The entire process is done in the spirit of sharing. I think of Christmas cards as little gifts. They give me the pleasure of making them, and I hope they give a moment of happiness to the recipient.
The Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor has a display of cards in their reading room, delightful pen sketches by Jim Grover, and a selection of my cards in a glass case. The exhibit will be up until January 15.
Jesup Memorial Library
34 Mt. Desert Street
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays and Mondays