What should you do when you come to a fork in the road . . . and a mailbox?
Why open the mailbox, of course, enter the date and your names on the notebook stored within, and then follow the trail to the left. If all goes well, a couple of hours later you’ll emerge via the trail on the right. With lots of zigs and zags along the way, that is.
The story of this place dated back to the 1700s when the massive white pines that once grew there were harvested for the British navy. A dam was built and mills as well. In fact, at one time there were four mills, including a saw mill, textile mill, and two grist mills, plus a woodworking shop. We spied a foundation just off the trail, but didn’t know its part in the story.
Surrounding the foundation in abundance, however, were lily of the valley plants, their fruits taking on their fall hue. And I imagined the lady of the house tending her garden.
Though the homesteaders were no longer in residence, we found evidence that others called this place home–possibly a black-capped chickadee egg.
A little further on, we found another artifact dating to an earlier time. Much earlier given its structure and how buried it was. This had once been farmland before the forest grew up again.
It wasn’t far into our journey, however, that we began to notice something about this land–it had been hit over and over again by windstorms, all blowing from the east, which made sense given that we were less than a mile from the ocean. We found ourselves stepping over, crawling under . . .
walking between . . .
and starring in awe at all of the destruction. It was nothing like we encounter in western Maine, and we began to feel trail snobbish.
But . . . uprooted trees do offer interesting art forms from above . . .
and directly below. Think of it as nature’s stained glass window.
There was other artwork to admire, including those zigzaggy tunnels created by bark beetles. They must dance to their own tunes as they mine their way across the cambium layer.
On the same tree we also found fine specimens of artist conk fungi. How apropos.
Soon we came to a modern structure. A peek through the window and we knew we’d reached an education center, where cubbies lined a wall, and posters no longer quite secure rolled from the points at which they’d been tacked.
My favorite was a painting on the outside. Tick Check!
Because the land had been farmed, apple trees danced in their forward leaning forms.
And gave forth fruit among the maze of branches.
Some trees were more prolific producers than others.
And according to my guy, the offerings were delicious.
There were other fruits to admire, including the wedgewood blue of silky dogwood.
And the green turning red, red turning blue, purplish, blue and almost raisin-like fruits of hobblebush.
Even the Norway maple showed off its seeds in samara form.
The asters added delightful touches of color to the rather drab landscape.
And among them, insects such as a tiger crane fly, enhanced the scene.
We found turtlehead,
false Solomon seal in its fruit form,
and beach roses showing their bright florescence.
And where there were roses, there were rose hips and I was reminded of my father who couldn’t walk past a rose bush on our travels from our cottage in Harbor View, Clinton, CT, to town via the town beach, without sampling such.
Eventually today, after a few backtracks, for we occasionally got fake lost and with all the downed trees, every trail began to look the same, we found the dam.
It had been breached long ago, and according to the property’s history, the mills were “destroyed by fire in the early 1860s, and not rebuilt.”
We could see some evidence through the woods, but weren’t in a major gotta-see-more mode I guess, which isn’t really our way, but today it was.
Down below, the mill stream became the Haraseekeet River if we understood correctly. It was low tide in the estuary. And smelled to me like the mud flats in Clinton Harbor and I was transported to my childhood for a moment.
On our way out, we passed by the caretaker’s house, built in 1795 by mill master Abner Dennison. Sadly, it looked like it needed some care taking.
Nonetheless, it was decorated for the upcoming season.
At the end of our journey, we decided that the trails were not our favorite given all the blowdowns and a stagnant Mill Brook that seemed like an oxymoron, but we’d still found plenty of delightful sights. And tried not to make too many contrary comments for the tree spirits kept many eyes on us.
And listened from their gnome homes.
On this Mondate, we whispered that we probably don’t need to return to Maine Audubon’s Mast Landing, but we didn’t want them to hear us.