Tag Archives: Maine

Acadia National Park community Day trips Destinations Maine Maine destinations Nature Log

Winter in Winter Harbor

Dogs watching Wonsqueak Harbor

It's a dog's view, and I wish it was mine.

Black Friday, and we were up and out early. Our destination was not the sales and bargains the day after Thanksgiving is known for, but Schoodic Peninsula, an odd disconnected portion of Acadia National Park. Our goal was a walk with ocean views, designer breakfasts prepared by someone else, and then back home to split wood and get ready for winter.

Snow came early this year, and we were ready for snowshoes and piles of white around our ankles. We had spun though eleven unplowed inches to get to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving Day where it sparkled out the windows, but now we wanted to be in it, not looking at it. We tossed our gear in the car and headed off island. It was not long before we blew off the hike, breakfast, split wood agenda and just took it as it came. We saw a road we had not been on, and took it. Unplowed and snowy we came around a curve and disturbed a small group of turkeys. They stretched their necks and single file strutted off through a path in the woods. Turkeys are a common sight, but we had not seen any in about six weeks and had commented on their absence. “Guess they feel safe now,” I said. It was Black Friday, after all. Thanksgiving was over.

Back on track, we arrived in Winter Harbor, the town just before Schoodic and our hike. Tourism may be part of its economy, but the feel of this village is that of a simple coastal Maine community. There is a bank, a few restaurants, a grocery store, a five and dime that has everything you could ever need, and not a t-shirt shop in sight.

The Five and Ten has it all.

We wandered about town before our walk, getting the winter feel of Winter Harbor. Summer folk are gone, but there is no sense of the forlornness that pervades nearby Bar Harbor with plywood coverings nailed over shop windows and the fountains in the parks covered with stark plank pyramids. The cashier at the market gave us directions to a friend’s house, and it felt good that she of course knew where he lived. We stopped at Chase’s Restaurant for a coffee refill, and left with the waitress saying they would have stopped serving breakfast when we finished our hike. She said she has lived in Winter Harbor all her life, gladly suggested places to eat in nearby towns, called us dear in typical Downeast fashion, and we parted with smiles. We did not take the time to drive to Grindstone Neck, a stretch of summer homes and awesome hills we bike in the summer, but headed straight to Schoodic. In a field off to our left we saw three turkeys grazing. After weeks with no sightings, we had two in one day. Wild turkeys know their calendar.

Spruce Point, Maine

We had no clear idea where the trail we wanted started, and didn’t really care. We turned left onto a road with no street sign, because neither of us knew it, and found, to our surprise, it led to our path. Had we been looking for the trail, we’d never have found it. The only sign indicating the trail was over fifty feet after we turned onto this unmarked road. It was steep and winding, and took us to the top of the hill we had expected to be climbing. There were no tire tracks before ours as we made the ascent. When we left hours later, ours were still the only tracks. I doubt in July we would be the only ones on the trails.

Our hike started high, and was an easy ramble with views of our home, Mount Desert Island. There were ravens, squirrels, signs of coyotes, and at one lookout, an interpretive panel with moose tracks on it. We found this a bit perplexing, as it implies this might be a moose habitat, and it is not. There are several easy trails here, we wandered them all. The snow was only a few inches deep and so we did not get to use our snowshoes, but we were the first to walk the paths since the snow had fallen, and making the first footprints is always a sense of privilege and delight.

Wonsqueak Harbor, Maine

Wonsqueak Harbor, Schoodic Peninsula


Leaving Schoodic we pass through Wonsqueak Harbor, which not only has the best harbor name I know of, but is also a classic picturesque harbor that demands you take its photo whatever the season or weather. The local dogs enjoy the view too; a half dozen were hanging out on the roof of a porch overlooking the water.

The sun was now high, gleaming on the water droplets at the tip of every branch and twig. It was time to split that wood, and so we headed home. As we neared our island we saw half a dozen turkeys along the road. I suspect they are not as stupid as their reputation suggests.

community Otter Creek

Murphy visits for the Fourth of July

All across America July Fourth is celebrated with flags proudly flying, fireworks, parades and picnics. In Otter Creek the stars and stripes line the street at one home, red white and blue streamers festoon the door of another. The long weekend is also a time for getting the lawn mown, a trip to the beach, and catching up on household projects. Americans can cram a lot into three days. In the spirit of not wasting a minute, I planned to decorate for the Fourth, build an arbor, see fireworks, paint the back basement hatch cover, bike, swim, boat out to a lobsterfest, and picnic with friends. This of course was in addition to the daily routine of weeding, watering and planting that maintaining a garden requires. It could all have been handled quite comfortably, if only Murphy hadn’t come to visit.

The weekend started with dinner on an island, then a long Saturday morning bike ride. Then it was time to tackle a project. The basement hatch is old and wooden, and while it really needs more than a coat of paint, I wanted it spruced up for the weekend. Scraped, swept and washed down, I cut in the edges with glossy black oil paint, and quickly had it looking shiny and fresh. I switched the laundry, cut fresh flowers for the house, came back out and looked at the gravel and grit on the doormat. There was a broom right at hand, so I did a quick left and right sweep, then stilled the broom as I saw a spray of tiny bits land and stick to the side of the hatch. No easy fix, it would have to dry, get sanded and repainted. I moved on.

Summer had started late this year, and because of the cool days, we hadn’t yet put the screen insert on the front door. I had hauled it over to the front steps weeks ago; it was time to put it in. Leaves and grass and pollen had landed on the screen, and I decided it would be easiest to sweep it off after I placed it in the doorframe. I removed the winter glass, and positioned the screen and clipped it in. The pollen began to fall on my face, my arms and my legs, and then it was moving, no, it was crawling all over me. A spider had laid its eggs there, and what seemed like thousands of tiny spiders were swarming on me. After frantic jumping around, head shaking and swatting, I swept the door off and headed in to hang some red white and blue bunting out the upstairs window. This is something I have done for the past three or four years, and is a really easy way to dress up the house. I unsnapped the first screen and pushed it away from the frame about an inch. I began to feed the long strip of fabric out the window with the other hand, when the screen detached from the top of the window. The screen is about four and a half feet tall, and it wobbled in my hand, gravity calling it to drop two stories to the ground below. I did not want it bent or broken so grabbed it with both hands. The banner slipped out and landed, forming a drape across the yellow daylilies beside the door that had given a nesting spider a home. I tried to pull the screen through the window, but it wouldn’t fit. There I squatted, arms out the window holding this big screen.

I used my head and shoulder to push the window open wide enough to maneuver the screen inside. I retrieved the banner, and tried again. This time I had a plan. I would hold the banner inside by pressing against it with my belly, and use both hands to get the window in its upper track. Then I would pull the screen towards me, where it would connect with the banner, and I could clip it in, firmly holding the banner in place between the screen and the bottom edge of the window frame. This was working. The screen teetered, but I pressed it into the top track. Slowly I pulled the bottom toward me to get it completely in the track. The phone rang, I exhaled, my stomach moved, the banner slipped out, slid between the screen and the window edge and landed on the yellow day lilies below.

I got the darn banner, and put it in place. The second one would have to wait.

While upstairs I emptied the wastebasket, tying the little plastic liner bag tightly. I went down, opened the back door and tossed it outside. It would go in the trashcan when I put my shoes on and went out next. The bag was very light, and hit the edge of the step and bounced up. It bounced a bit sideways, too, and stuck, hanging, on the side of the hatch cover, glued to the sticky wet paint just above the grit and gravel bits. “If it can go wrong it will,” is the adage popularized as Murphy’s Law. Yep.

It is with relief I heard my husband said friends had invited us on their boat, and I have to stop work and get ready. We watch the sun set from the middle of Somes Sound, and sip wine as fireworks blaze above our heads. It is late when we are dropped at the dock. It is even later when Triple A gets there to jumpstart our dead battery.

July third: The arbor is finished; the hatch cover paint is dry. We have biked, boated, watched fireworks, weeded, and picnicked. It is Fourth of July Eve, and we are ready for the Fourth, in spite of Murphy. Happy Independence Day, America.

Uncategorized

Cherry Blues

Canadian Geese on the Narraguagus. And then there were three.

Canadian Geese on the Narraguagus. And then there were three.

Kingfisher, osprey, Canadian Geese, Labrador gulls, Bald eagles, Cedar waxwings, sunshine but no shad. We came to Cherryfield for an extended deep breath. We sit in the sun, coffees at our sides, it is 7 :30 am. We yoga-ed facing the sunrise, then cast a few lines at Stillwater Pool aka the Shad Hole. Saw a salmon roll, (as in Eskimo roll, not crabroll) and a kingfisher breakfasting, D. calls them blue chatterers. A Blue Heron slowly lifted off and moved up river. Blueberry blossoms are warm ivory by the roadside.

The sound of the Narraguagus is a constant presence here. It was our companion last evening as we ate sushi and sipped wine. It followed alongside us as we walked the old rail trail, it was a loud stage whisper out our bedroom window throughout the night, and is heckling us now as we drink coffee on the deck by the carriage house, our retreat.

The Englishmans B+B in Cherryfield has a meadow sloping to the river’s edge, the carriage house is high above, binoculars ready on the window sills.

After breakfast we return to the pool before leaving Cherryfield. Yesterday evening the Canadian Geese had four goslings, today there are three.

Nature Log Otter Creek Sea Salt

Sea Salt turns to Zea Salt

This may be the last salt batch of the year. Days are warmer and the wood stove may soon be getting cold. We only make Zea Salt when we are running the wood stove to heat the house. It is pretty simple, we gather the water, filter it, and evaporate it in a heavy gauge stainless steel evaporating pan. As crystals form on the surface, much the way ice forms on a pond, we gently ladle it off into flat pans for a final drying. It does need a fair amount of attention, but the white flaky crystals sparkle and the flavor is, well, salty, but with a crisp and mineral rich flavor.

community Day to day Maine

Help name this kitty

He has love, now he needs a name

He has love, now he needs a name

He was found in a blizzard in Northern Maine, outside the police station of a small town on the Canadian border. This was one the wildest blizzards in years, with record-breaking precipitation and high winds.

Over one hundred miles to the south we were driving home from seeing the Nutcracker Ballet. Walking from the concert hall to the car was a challenge. Whirling wet snow thick in the air peppered our faces, we opened our eyes to get our bearings, then they were forced closed against the icy pellets. It was a long ride home, warily passing the pinkish glow from the tail lights of cars that had spun off the road and were buried in the snow. Melissa kept watch for the edge of the road, Kymry gave encouragement from the back seat. There was a good six inches of unplowed powder to slide through and visibility was about 20 feet except when the wind picked up, and then it was a blinding glow of head light reflected off the snow, and nothing beyond the shadowy outline of the hood of the car could be seen.

Nameless kitty appeared on this night, and he isn’t telling us where he came from. Two years old, sick and thin, he stayed outside the police station a week or so, then finally slipped in for food. He was caught and brought to the shelter.

I heard about him a month later, and MOFW and I went north to fetch him. While the shelter did the best they could, unknown time in the wild plus a month in a small cage sleeping in his litter box left him thin, matted, scabby behind the ears and with a persistent sneeze.

Now he is sociable and playful. He is a very mellow and relaxed kitty. During dinner parties he comes out and mingles, rolling over for belly scratching, and swatting at the toys and strings offered him. His fur mats are gone, sneezing has lessened, and he has begun to groom and clean himself.

It is time to find his name.

__ Lumikki Finnish for snow.

__ Drosselmeyer In The Nutcracker he arrives on a snowy night bringing the Nutcracker for Clara.

__ Mawson Antarctic explorer who survived brutal weather and an amazing number of catastrophes.

__ Denali Park and mountain in Alaska, SUV, and great snowshoess .

__ Bombadil A merry fellow from Tolkein’s The Hobbit who wanders and explores the woods, cheerfully eating and dancing with the folk he meets.

__ Other

community Maine Maine destinations Uncategorized

Oysters Oysters Oysters

Shucking in Damariscotta, Maine

Shucking in Damariscotta, Maine

Maine Destination: Pemaquid Oyster Festival

Oyster Festival, cocktail sauce not allowed.
Glidden Point Oysters, firm, crisp, as tangy as the water they were raised in– and as many as I wanted to eat! How many was that? About 16, 12 raw with nothing or a small scoop of pico di gallo, and then four, one broiled with cheese, one Rockefeller, one barbecued, and I cannot remember the fourth cooked style. Raw is the way to go. I could have eaten that many again, but it was a good place to stop, content and functional.
I don’t care for cocktail sauce on my oysters, I don’t think many people do, and yet I hear people trying them for the first time frequently smother their oyster in it. No wonder then, if they’re not enchanted with the crisp, briny, I am swallowing the ocean, magnificence of a raw oyster. And so I heard with a bit of awe and a great deal of respect that the Pemaquid Oyster Festival has banned cocktail sauce. The range of flavorings offered instead was impressive: Lime-Sake Sauce from Swan’s Way Caterers; Sea Bean Slaw from Primo Restaurant; Cider Mignonette from Francine Bistro; Pico de Gallo from Amalfi on the Water; Lemon-Leek Mignonette from Newcastle Publick House; Jalepeno Relish from the Anchor Inn/Damariscotta River Grill; Prosecco Preserved Lemon Mignonette from Atlantica; Green Tabasco Mignonette from Augustine’s and Lemon-Fennel Salsa from the Bradley Inn.
Boats were taking happy oyster eaters down the river to the oyster farms, where we could see the very simple mesh containers where the seed oysters spend about four years of their lives, growing from thumbnail size to ready to eat. The trays get rotated every day to keep algae from forming, according to our guide. These oysters are then dumped on the river bottom near shore to enjoy the last few months of their lives out of captivity. Batter flavor, again according to our guide, much like a free-range chicken.
The festival is a great place to learn about the Damariscotta region. Booths manned by members of area organizations provided information about the fish ladder–a stone waterway allowing alewifes to make a 42-foot vertical ascent to their spawning grounds, river trails, and the shell middens–mounds of oyster shells, one of them once more than thirty feet deep, 1,600 feet long and 1,650 feet wide, evidence that people ate oysters from 200 BC to 1000 AD, and many of them. There was also a touch tank with small scallops snapping their way through the water, nudibranches, hermit crabs, starfish (watch out oysters!) and enthusiastic young marine biology students (outside the tank) showing specimens and explaining life-cycles, identification, and who eats whom.
The grey day was brightened by all the yellow and orange slickers, and the line of oyster openers with dull blades flashing in and out keeping up with the hungry crowds. Good food, happy oyster eaters, a boat ride, and oyster lore combine to make the Pemaquid Oyster Festival a great Maine destination. Think about this: the oyster shells in the bottom layers of the midden ranged from 12 to 20 inches in length. Don’t think I’d eat 16 of those!