Posts Tagged ‘beaver activity’

Happy Sunday

This past Sunday was one of those days when everything went right.  Now that we’re in the midst of blackfly and tick season, hiking gets pretty uncomfortable when the weather is sunny and calm.  Saturday it was a sunny, gorgeous 80 degrees, so I made sure to wear a bug net whenever I took the dog for a walk.  Unless it’s really breezy, the blackflies love to swarm all over you.  For the past two weeks, I’ve been pulling off a minimum of 10 ticks a day from my dog, and 5 ticks from myself, despite the use of repellents.

So I was not disappointed to wake up to a blustery, cloudy Sunday in the 40s.  Although rain threatened, at least it meant that we could go walking unmolested by bugs.

But first, we needed to dump our trash and recyclables at the transfer station.  I was delighted to find several great books at the freecycle station.  When I finish the books I will return them to the freecycle area so someone else can enjoy them.  I also contributed several old garden pots that I had no plans to plant to the giveaway pile.

From the transfer station we continued a few miles up the road to visit our friend Paul’s building site (I guess you could call it tresspassing since he wasn’t there).  Paul is building a new, off-grid home there and is doing everything singlehandedly.  For the past several months he’s been busy grading the area, and raising the site with packed dirt since the house will sit along the river and he has to worry about a flood line.  We were really impressed with the attractive retaining wall he set.  The house will overlook the river, where I’m anxious (with Paul’s permission) to bring my kayak and try a little trout fishing.

By now the skies were looking a bit mean so we thought we’d forget a hike and just take a scenic drive.  We went up the Crooked River Causeway and then drove west on Route 2, taking in the grandeur of the northern White Mountain Peaks.  We turned into a parking area at Rattle River trailhead, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, and decided to walk the gentle 1.8 miles to the shelter erected for the benefit of thru-hikers.  (A thru-hiker is someone who hikes the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine.) We figured a little rain wouldn’t hurt us.



Fortunately, the weather held, and there were no bugs! The many small flumes and cascades along the Rattle River were incredibly soothing and beautiful.  Although we’ve taken this walk several times before, it never gets old.  The last time I was there I was with our dog Spencer, who died this past September.  Now we were accompanied by Truman, our 7 month-old Standard Poodle puppy, and it was fun to experience the walk through his doggie eyes and nose, as he exuberantly discovered the joys of the Rattle River trail for the first time.  It made the old new again.















It was also lovely to see trillium, a type of wildflower in purple or white, in bloom.20160515_133817




From the Rattle River we headed over to Gorham NH to do my week’s worth of food shopping at the Super WalMart (the only major food shopping in that area; it saved me a trip into town later in the week).  I know a lot of people who hate WalMart and won’t shop there out of principle, but ask anyone living in a rural area and they will tell you that WalMart is a blessing.  The one-stop shopping saves rural folks from traveling 100 miles into the closest city to supply their needs, and at reasonable prices.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a large selection of organic produce at this WalMart!

From Gorham we traveled back on Rte 2, but instead of returning the way we had come, we went down the 113, which is Evans Notch; it’s one of my favorite drives in the area.  The views are magnificent, the Notch is filled with dozens of challenging hiking trails, and there is always a chance of seeing a moose.  We didn’t see a moose, but we did see very fresh, recent beaver activity along a river.  The beavers appeared to be decimating the entire shoreline, working on felling several large trees simultaneously along the riverbank.







Thanks to the longer days, when we got home there was still time to sow some beet seeds in the raised-bed garden.  I’ve also planted garlic, kale, and some winter squash, and last year’s strawberry plants are doing nicely.  My only garden disaster (so far) is the complete failure of my apple orchard.  Although I attended a university extension course on apple growing, fed them, talked to them (and God),  pruned them, and generally babied my apple trees for the past 5 years,  I had yet to see  even a single apple blossom and no apples, despite a proliferation of leaves!  Even putting a beehive next to the trees didn’t help them pollinate. Finally, finally – – four apple blossoms!


Will they make it?  Who knows.  I’ve been vigilant about removing insect nests that hatch worms and devour young apple leaves on an almost daily basis.  I’m trying to keep the orchard organic, so pesticide is a no-no.   Meanwhile I have 8 organic apple trees that mock me daily, a life lesson and humbling reminder of the fact that despite my best efforts, I am not always the one in control.


Our Pond is Haunted




Little Pond

The past couple of weeks saw warmer than normal temperatures and rain so whatever snow is left is hard-packed and icy with many bare spots showing through. Even though the days have been sunny, yesterday and today were quite cold, with temperatures in the single digits at night.   Little Pond, the bog which sits at the bottom of our driveway, is frozen over.

Yesterday I experienced perhaps the most unusual natural phenomena ever in all my years in Maine.

Around sunset I decided to take the dog for a quick walk.  As we reached the bottom of the driveway, I heard a strange, unearthly noise unlike any noise I’d ever heard before, coming from the pond.  As I stopped to listen – – the air was completely still with no other signs of life nor sounds nearby in the vast, bleak emptiness – – the noise came and went in odd spurts, sometimes in a crescendo, sometimes sounding like a low, ghostly howl; knocking; moaning and groaning; at other times like the crack of a whip as it traveled across the pond.   I strained my eyes but could see no activity above the water.  At first I thought it might be the sound of beaver activity under the ice. But the sporadic sounds came from different locations in the pond:  first near me, then the opposite shore, then the far end, and other times from the middle, etc.  There was no pattern nor rhythm, and the sounds varied.  I can’t honestly describe them – – they were unsettling, and ominous, and ghoulish, and other-worldly.  My dog was terribly afraid by these noises – – he refused to walk further and returned to the bottom of our driveway, planting himself firmly there, refusing to budge and anxiously waiting for me to follow him home.  I walked to different parts of the pond’s edge but did not get any closer to solving the mystery.  Instinctively, I felt it was some sort of underwater noise or signaling — since I couldn’t pinpoint its direction or source I still wasn’t sure if the noises were emanating from above or beneath the ice – – but how? Why? What did this mean?  And why, with my daily ventures to the pond over the past 5 years at all times of day and night, in good weather and bad, had I never heard these sounds before?

(This is actually one of the things I love so much about my life in Maine.  There is always something new to experience and to learn, to see and hear and feel.  It’s a near constant explosion of sensory awareness, providing that one is patient and receptive and can slow down enough to be open to it.  And when I slow down, I mean really slow down:  I find a spot, close my eyes, and take several deep cleansing breaths.  Then I consciously work on breathing deeply and quietly and slowly, and open my eyes.   By now I feel my heartbeat has slowed.  My blood pressure is low.  My muscles are relaxed.   I concentrate deeply on listening and seeing and on each of my senses individually, only allowing them to integrate when I feel I’ve absorbed each sense at a high level of awareness.  I may stay in a single spot for fifteen or twenty minutes, or as much as an hour (and by then my dog is usually fully bored and exasperated with me, sighs, and lays down on the ground in surrender).  I guess some people would call this a form of meditation, but I’ve never studied meditation and I don’t really know much about it.  But it is during these periods of concentration and alertness that I’ve been especially successful in observing Nature.  And it never, ever gets old.)

After searching on the Internet, I finally found the sound that I had heard earlier in the day at Little Pond:  “dispersion of sound waves in ice sheets.”  It is an unusual phenomena that has many people scratching their heads.  The sounds were described by others as “creepy” and “eerie” so I was in good company.  I’ve provided some links below so you, too,  can get a taste of the unusual.

Creepy sounds in St. Paul MN:

A frozen lake in Berlin, Germany (with a great explanation of the phenomena):