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Mt. Willard

Even though Fall colors won’t be at their peak for another 3 weeks, we decided to hike to the top of Mt. Willard, which has a panoramic view of Crawford Notch on the New Hampshire side of the White Mountains.

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The climb is labeled “moderate.”  At 1.6 miles each way, it only take a little more than an hour to reach the top if you are in average condition, and is certainly suitable for families with small children.  The hike can really be divided into thirds:  the first third the grade is moderately steep; the second third the grade is gentle, with lots of rocks; and the third and final stage (just when the kids will start complaining) suddenly becomes nearly level and very easy.  The granite viewing ledge is expansive, as is the magnificent view.  You can see the train tracks reaching far into Crawford Notch that are serviced by the Conway Scenic Railroad, and perhaps the Willey House far into the distance if the day is really clear. The Willeys were a homesteading family that met a tragic end in 1826.  You can read about it here

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After the hike, our pup Truman was quite tired out.  He fell asleep on the way home while sticking his head out of our car’s window, his ears blowing wildly in the breeze.

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Chicken of the Woods

Today at dusk my husband and I went for a walk.  It’s the same walk we do every single day with our dog, a routine 2 mile loop on our road that takes us to Evergreen Valley and back home.  Easy, pleasant, and scenic, it first follows the huge bog known as Little Pond and then passes an old abandoned golf course, a spring house, and two streams.  We grabbed a couple of succulent apples growing from abandoned trees along the road.  And then I stopped.  “Look! up on the oak tree!”

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There on the trunk of the oak, about 6′ up from the base, was a large deep golden mushroom. It looked like a cross between a cauliflower and a human brain. “I think that might be edible!” I cried.  “Let’s cut it off!”  So using a branch from the ground, we sawed off the mushroom from the tree, and carefully brought it home. It weighed about 1.25 lbs.

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I know nothing about mushrooms, and obviously one must be very careful about eating them until you can be sure of their identity, lest they be poisonous and possibly fatal.  Fortunately there is a Facebook group called Maine Mushrooms where you can submit photos, and many people in the group have the expertise necessary to identify hundreds of types of mushrooms.

“Chicken of the Woods!” people wrote.  “Score!”  “One of the most delicious mushrooms out there!”  “Enjoy!” “Good find!”

I promptly sliced it, seasoned it, and sauteed it in a cast iron pan.  The verdict:  possibly the tastiest mushroom I’ve ever eaten!  It had the texture of tender chicken, and the taste was very light and delicate, kind of a cross between chicken and mushroom.

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It was really a thrill for me to find it and then be able to harvest it and eat it.  Thank you God for providing us with such a wonderful food!

How I love the Maine woods!

P.s. if you don’t see any new blog posts within the next month, assume I was mistaken about identifying this mushroom correctly and that you are ready my final blog entry like… forever 😉

 

 

The Biggest Lie

Hillary Clinton has just told her biggest lie, after collapsing from pneumonia and exhaustion:

“I feel great.”

This is not an indictment of HC (my blog is apolitical). Rather, it’s an indictment of success-driven culture that disallows people to feel like crap when they really feel like crap because we’re afraid of the penalties of not measuring up. How many people go to their workplace/church/synagogue/gym sick for this reason (and infect others, which really gets my goat)?  Being sick does not mean you are weak or incompetent or can’t perform. It just means you are sick, and will usually get over it. Life happens.  People are human.

When the current governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer immediately upon taking office, he didn’t try to hide his illness.  He told his constituents that he was very sick and he would need to scale way back while undergoing treatment, but assured everyone that he was on top of things, that he had advisers and a lieutenant governor he respected, trusted and that have his back, and that he would not desert his post.  The Maryland public followed him through his treatments and chemo-induced hair loss, his campaigns for cancer awareness, his fellowship with fellow sufferers and their families; and by golly he slowly started to get better (he is currently in remission).  He was not “weak” when he exposed us to his travails; he just  refused to raise the possibility of defeat.  Not only was he not punished for stepping back to take care of himself, he is currently enjoying an all-time high approval rating that is not a pity rating; it’s because he is getting things done and cutting across all political and ethnic lines in a state that is hugely Democrat (he’s a Republican) and racially fragile.

But you don’t have to be a politician or a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.  And it doesn’t have to be a life-threatening illness.  You might be an exhausted mom who just needs a break, or a pregnant woman vomiting her guts out who needs a day off without fear of judgement, or a person immersed in sorrow from a recent loss.

Now go take care of yourself.

Atop Sabbatus (again)

sabbatus1Sometimes I just feel like getting out there, but don’t really have time for a full-blown hike.  We had lots of chores to attend to around the house, and by the time most were complete it was already late in the afternoon.  That’s when we headed to Sabbatus, which is only 5 or 6 miles from our home. It’s an easy uphill loop hike of 1.4 miles total, but the grade is enough to get my heart beating and make my breath short.  The view at the top is always inspiring (two weeks from now it will look entirely different as autumn paints the leaves red, orange and gold).  It was comforting to go there on the anniversary of 9/11, and to be surrounded by peace and beauty.  It made me wonder why anyone would choose violence and hatred and dissent and terror over serenity, peace, beauty, unity and love.  It helped me forget the vitriol and negative emotion that our current US elections have inspired.  For those few minutes, I had no bills to pay, no paperwork to clean up.  Just for a moment, in that wide expanse, no one was sick or hurt and all was well with the world.

May it be only be so!

 

Sidewalk Gardens

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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?

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.