Archive for September, 2016

Sidewalk Gardens

norwayplanters

As I drove through the town of Norway, Maine today, I noticed uniform wooden planter boxes every 50 to 75 feet along the sidewalks on both sides of Main Street.  Each box was filled to overflowing with a large variety of edible plants and vegetables.

Like so many small towns and villages throughout rural Maine, Norway is struggling, and many of its residents are at the poverty line.  What a great initiative this is, allowing people to pick fresh produce and put it on their tables for free!  It’s funded by grants and donations; the mini-gardens are maintained by community volunteers.

A quick search online led me to this article from the Advertiser Democrat about this worthy project.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this project could be adopted everywhere?

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An Absorbing Morning

The foliage is starting to turn and the nights are definitely cooler.  I’ve been putting off a chore I hate – painting – but I could put it off no longer.  The trim on our house is now 6 years old, and looks scraggly and worn.  If I waited to paint until Fall I risked the air being too cold for the paint to dry properly, not to mention the possibility of rain.  It was now or never.

I spent a couple of hours scraping loose, peeling paint and smoothing the remainder.  My husband helped by putting our very tall and heavy ladder against the house. Carefully balancing the paint bucket in one hand and the brush in the other, I leaned against the ladder just so, praying that my balance would hold and I could get the job done without calling in an expert.

It went better and quicker than I thought it would.  A new coat of paint is an amazing thing:  the house looks new again.  What I didn’t realize is that my Standard Poodle, Truman, was concerned about my being so high off the ground on the ladder.  He was determined to not let me out of his sight, so he got as close to me as he could – – directly under the ladder.  I couldn’t see him and didn’t know he was there.

His cream-colored fur absorbed the dark bronze paint drips nicely, better than any drop cloth.  When I rounded a corner, he did too – – by cocking his head and leaning his neck against a freshly painted post.  Soon he resembled a pinto-colored horse.

Naturally I didn’t discover my dog’s new look until the paint had completely dried.  I spent the next twenty minutes with a scissors and electric clippers, cutting out huge chunks of hardened, dark bronze colored fur from his head, neck, ears and back.  Now he resembles a molting moose, and it isn’t pretty.

 

 

Eagles

A few days ago I thought I caught a quick glimpse of a Golden Eagle at the boggy pond across from us, which is a somewhat unusual sighting in these parts.  I’m sorry to say I did not get a picture, but have included this one that I found on google images so you can see what it looks like: 

As it turns out, golden eagles are not really found around here.  It is more likely that I saw a bald eagle, which closely resembles the coloring of a golden eaghe before it reaches maturity.  There are several areas in Maine that see Bald Eagles.  I found this blog which has photos of an amazing encounter with a pair of them – truly a once in a lifetime event.  http://northernmainebirds.blogspot.com/2010/06/swimming-eagles-in-lakeville-penobscot.html

Swimming Lessons

Although Standard Poodles are usually natural water dogs and love swimming, my previous Standard Poodle only liked it if his feet could touch the bottom – – I guess you’d call it wading.  Since we’ve had some very hot days this past week, the lake finally warmed up enough for us to go swimming, so on Friday afternoon we decided to take our first dip of the year and of course we brought Truman.

He loved the water and caught on to swimming immediately.  Soon he was swimming out to deeper water with great joy, retrieving sticks that we’d thrown.  Only a few days ago I gave him a very short haircut – – it made me sad to say goodbye to his fluffy, luxuriant puppy hair – – but I was getting tired of bathing him and brushing out the tangles on a daily basis after he went exploring in muddy areas around our property.  The shorter cut makes what I hope will be daily swims in the lake all pleasure for him and low maintenance for me.

 

 

 

Insider Knowledge

 

Recently I got a happy earful when I asked a few locals to suggest day trips that would be suitable for my grandchildren when they come for Camp Savta in August.  The grandkids have plenty of favorite activities and sites that are “must do’s” when they visit but I would like to shake up their routine just a bit.  So today I decided to check out one of my Maine friends’ suggestions:  Frenchman’s Hole in Newry, Maine.

Located off a dirt road seemingly in the middle of nowhere (like every other rural Maine attraction worth seeing), Frenchman’s Hole is part of the Mahoosuc Land Trust and is near Sunday River, one of Maine’s famous ski resorts outside of Bethel, Maine.  Deep inside the woods, past an old covered bridge and some logging bridges and roads, is a series of cascades, wading and swimming pools culminating in two cliffs overlooking a waterfall.  It is from both of these cliffs, 20′ and 30′ respectively, that people jump into the cold waters below – – especially refreshing on a hot summer day.  At the bottom of the cliff at water’s edge is a long rope which allows swimmers to climb from the water back to the top.

While I was there a summer camp was visiting the site, and the teens were having a blast.  One especially daring fellow did a double flip dive off the taller of the two cliffs.  My grandchildren are going to love this!  (Their parents, not so much.)

Two miles downstream is swimming hole known as The S, a name given due to the bend in the road at that point.  This large natural swimming pool is ideal for children of all ages.  Our dog Truman found a doggie playmate there and they had a blast running in and out of the water.

Truthfully, you could live in the White Mountains your entire life and never see it all.  But even repeat visits to old favorites bring something new; and each time I bring friends and family to these place I relive the joy of discovery time and time again.

 

Logging

Yesterday I was driving in the woods of Crocker Pond State Park and was shocked by the amount of logging done there by the US Forest Service.  It was a precursor of an even larger-scale project set to take place in my immediate area of the White Mountain National Forest within the next one to two years, called the Albany South Project.  The forest service insists that logging is necessary to increase and improve the foraging habitat for wildlife and better balance the ecosystem.  They also say that there hasn’t been a major forest fire here in decades, and that with the heavy free growth it’s an accident waiting to happen, so thinning and removal of brush must ensue. While all that sounds reasonable, their methods may not be.  There are different types of logging:  selective cutting, in which specific trees are marked for removal, which thins the area yet does not drastically alter the landscape, and clear-cutting, which is the logging version of strip mining.  Entire swaths are wiped of trees, leaving mountainsides bare and the resulting dumped branches that are left behind make the area uninhabitable for most animals, and prevent regrowth and renewal.  When cut by the clear-cut method, trees are not a renewable resource as is so commonly touted.  (This link gives a good explanation of logging techniques and their impact on the landscape and environment.) So why does the Forest Service practice clear-cutting?  It’s less costly, takes less time, and more wood can be harvested for sale.  That’s right – the logs are collected and sold as lumber for the furniture, construction and paper making/pulp industries, to boost the limited budget of the Forest Service.  The question is, to whom are these logs sold?  China is a major customer of the US Forest Service, either directly or indirectly. It appears that both the buck and bucksaw stop here.

To find out more about the Albany South Project:  www.facebook.com/Albany-South-Project-146841855516421/  and http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=39614

Bartering

Bartering is a big deal in rural Maine.  Mostly it’s because people around here live at subsistence level, meaning they make barely enough to live on and are pretty self-sufficient thanks to their huge summer garden and deer hunting season and the golden ability to repair whatever breaks, but with no additional money left for extras.  So if your car breaks down, you probably know how to get it running; but if you need to pay for the parts, and you’re short on cash, you might offer to split the logs from your parts guy’s  winter wood supply, or patch his roof. An organic farmer we know doesn’t have livestock, so she barters her home-grown vegetables for her neighbor’s goat milk.

Today our HVAC man came to replace a broken part in our heater (actually, our HVAC guy would say “paaht”).  We’ve known Pete since we first came to Maine.  His prices are fair, and he’s a genius at what he does.  But due to some surprise costly expenses from last month,  today’s bill was more money than we could come up with (local workmen don’t accept credit cards, and Pete is no exception).

Suddenly I remembered about our Ruger 10/22 – – a rifle that we had wanted to sell.  I decided I had nothing to lose:  “Hey, Pete, might you be interested in a rifle?”

Of course he was!

Everyone walked away happy.