Smack dab in the midst of a hectic work schedule, we pulled off another issue of the mag. And I have to say, I really loved working on this one. As did Laurie LaMountain.
It’s full of history, both local as I had the fortune to visit with Louisa Attenborough at the Garcelon mansion on Kezar Lake in Lovell, and across the pond (read the intros to the recipes in “One Potato, Two Potato”).
Here’s an exclusive look at a bathroom window at Garcelon, flanked by mirrors that reflect the lights in the room and in the bedroom beyond.
And a side view not included in the article. The servants’ quarters, circa 1908, were in the upper-left hand corner.
Another of my articles is about the big reveal at our local ski area, which was purchased last year by Boyne Resorts. According to general manager Ralph Lewis, lots of updates have been made since the ski area closed in the spring, but the biggest one is the name change, which excites many of us. You can read all about it in “Welcome Back Pleasant Mountain.”
My third, and probably favorite article is entitled “Life Beneath the Ice,” which features the work of fellow Maine Master Naturalist Edwin Barkdoll and his discoveries as he worked on a capstone project, and Dr. Ben Peierls of Lakes Environmental Association.
“A calm winter day. Freezing temps. Thickening ice. A lid is placed on the ecosystem below. And all aquatic life goes dormant. Or does it?” You’ll have to read the article to find out.
So here’s a look at the cover, and a view of a Whirligig Bug walking under the ice that Edwin captured during his studies.
Within, you’ll also find articles by Laurie, including “Chasing Arrows,” about what happens to those items we so carefully recycle; “Fast and Affordable,” about the need for high-speed internet in our rural communities and what a collective group of towns is trying to do for affordable broadband, and “Creative Housing Solutions,” about what a group in Norway, Maine, is trying to do to bring equitable housing to the community. Plus the recipes (and history) in “One Potato, Two Potato.”
And always back by popular demand are the book reviews from the staff at Bridgton Books. Plus ads, ads, ads, for local businesses. Please take a look at them, and then visit the businesses and let them know you saw the ad in the mag.
Walking in silence
along a trail so familiar
my eyes were drawn
to bubbles at my feet.
Tiny bubbles, tinier bubbles, tiniest bubbles
formed random patterns
as they gave new life
to dying grasses.
Nearby, salmon-colored disks
the mint-green crustose form
of candy lichen's granular base.
Meanwhile, crimson caps of British Soldiers
shouted for recognition
as they showed off
their branching structures.
Upon a rotting tree
and backlit by the sun
glowed the irregularly lobed fruits
of Orange Jelly Spot.
In another sunny spot, a Little Copper sought nectar
from a goldenrod still in bloom
while a Spotted Cucumber Beetle
photobombed the shot.
I have to admit that I struggled with ID:
Ruby, Cherry-faced, and Saffron-winged
since this dragonfly showed characteristics
of each in the meadowhawk clan.
Being present on this October afternoon
reminded me of another day
when I paced before a couple of shrubs
and watched the insect action.
I am honored and humbled to announce that that blog post was recently published
in The Observer, a publication produced by the Maine Natural History Observatory.
My friend and fellow master naturalist, Cheryl Ring, also has an article in this issue.
The most humbling thing for me was an email I received from a reader who is also an avid naturalist. She commented that my ID of a butterfly at the end of the article, which I called Painted Lady, is actually American Lady. I now realize I need a new field guide because mine refers to it as American Painted Lady and I inadvertently dropped "American," while hers dropped "Painted" in the name. It's another lesson in why I need to wrap my brain around scientific names since common can cause confusion. I do appreciate that she took the time to read the article and write to me.
That said, the best lesson of any day is to take time to be present and observe in nature. Even if it's only for a few minutes.
I always get excited when an issue of Lake Living hits the shelves and the fall/winter one is now being distributed. If you are able to pick up a copy, please do so. And if you aren’t local, you can find a link to it here and below.
The first article, written by Laurie LaMountain, is “Finding Center” about an artist who purchased a building that began its life as a Roman Catholic Church, whose congregation outgrew it, and then for decades as Craftworks, a highly successful retail clothing and homewares store until it closed in March 2020. And now it is transforming into Factor Fine Art Center for the Arts and the story is as much about the building as it is about the man who is behind this repurposing project.
As always, in the fall issue, there is an article about a house renovation, this one entitled “Big Pine Farm,” also written by Laurie. The color scheme reminds me so much of our own kitchen renovation.
Next inside the cover is an article I wrote about a large barn that isn’t undergoing a renovation, but rather is being rescued from listing to the west and possibly toppling over, thus I titled it “Rescue Mission.” I had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewing a young man who is overseeing the project. Keeno Legare grew up looking at (and sometimes exploring) the barn and has a strong desire to continue to preserve the structure.
One of my favorite parts of the building is the silo—located inside rather than out. The article includes some of the history of the barn and the passion its owner, David McGrath, has for it.
“The Home Sauna: Active Relaxation” is Laurie’s third article. This is about one man’s COVID project that resulted in a small building where he can reap health benefits while letting the world wash away.
Laurie’s final article is entitled “Light Breaking.” This is about Laurie Downey, a woman who transformed her artistic direction after working as the set designer for her daughter’s school drama club. “Taking her cue from nature, she initially created a dozen lyos lightscreen patterns from drawings and photographs, or a combination of the two, that mimic rippling water, sun dappled foliage, forsythia in bloom, stands of saplings, and bare branches.” As you can see in the title photograph, ice also informs her art.
My second article is about Forest Therapy in the winter. Maine Master Naturalist and Forest Therapy Guide Jeanne Christie shared with me information about how a forest therapy session works, the values of participating in such a walk, and ways to make sure you stay warm while doing this in the cold season. I’ve participated in a few of Jeanne’s forest therapy walks and highly recommend that if you learn of one of these in your area, you strap on your snowshoes and head into the woods with a guide.
“Night Show” is my final article. The essence of this article is about light pollution from artificial light. “The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) defines light pollution as ‘inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light,’ and goes on to stay that ‘it can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our environment.’” Since writing this article, my guy and I had the opportunity to visit Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, designated an International Dark Sky Place. It’s the first place on the eastern seaboard to receive this designation and only places as remote as Antartica have darker skies.
The article includes information about light trespass and ways we can improve our own indoor/outdoor lighting for the benefit of all. Just imagine—if we all jumped on the bandwagon and turned off or down our lights, the stars would surely amaze us.
The magazine concludes with everyone’s favorite: the bookshelf with book reviews from the owners and staff of Bridgton Books.
That’s a summary. I do hope you’ll either pick up a copy and read the articles and let the advertisers know that you saw their ads . . . cuze the magazine is free to you. And if you can’t pick up a copy, please click on the link here: lake living fall/winter 2021
It feels like forever, but has only been since last fall that we produced an issue of Lake Living. Our hiatus was due to the pandemic and the fact that we didn’t have the usual amount of advertisers (the mag is free to you, so please support the advertisers who make it happen–and tell them where you saw their ads. Thank you.), and stores and other businesses didn’t necessarily want to put a magazine on the shelf. That was all before we understood this devastating disease better.
But . . . we’re back! And with some timely articles I think you will enjoy.
The first article, “Conservation Collaboration,” by yours truly is about Sebago Clean Waters, an initiative that includes Loon Echo Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, Portland Water District, Lakes Environmental Association, Mahoosuc Land Trust, and some bigger entities. I won’t give away how it works because I want you to read the article, but it’s all about clean water and the Sebago Lake watershed and what these organizations are doing to benefit all of us.
In “A Sense of Space,” Laurie LaMountain describes how architect John Cole recreated a lakeside house in a creative way given shoreland zoning laws in Maine. Not only is this an enjoyable read to learn more about how John and the homeowner problem solved to turn small living quarters into airy living quarters, but Laurie also provided valuable information about the laws that govern building beside our lakes and ponds.
Laurie is also the writer of this extremely important topic: protecting our most precious resource. A must read for everyone, both here in Maine and afar.
Up next is another article by me, “From the Earth to the Moon and Beyond,” about the world-class Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine, where I had the opportunity to hold this moon rock. You can too! But again, be sure to tell them you read about it in lake living.
That’s followed by the Summer Living calendar of events that comes with the warning that all items are subject to change because one of the take-aways from the last 15 months is that we all need to be flexible. So . . . check websites before heading out the door. I know this to be so true because at Greater Lovell Land Trust we’ve already made some changes since publishing our summer calendar.
“Eat What You Sow,” about three local gardeners including lake living‘s graphic designer, Dianne Lewis, is an informative article by my friend and emerging writer, Marguerite Wiser, Farm Lead at The Ecology School in Saco, Maine.
Possibly one of the most visually colorful articles I wrote, entitled “The Bag Lady,” features Designs by Diana Bags, a Lovell, Maine, business Diana Davis created and her story of how it came to be that’s she’s selling hand-made bags and other consigned items from her boutique and workshop on Main Street. Another one where you need to stop in and let Diana know you read her story here.
And no copy of the summer issue would be complete without book reviews from the folks at Bridgton Books, including owners Justin and Pam Ward, and employees Sue and Perri. There’s something in these pages for everyone, and once again I beg you to shop local. By now you know what to tell them when you step up to the counter to make your purchase. 😉
Finally, Laurie brings us recipes as she always does, this time in the form of “l’apéritif.” If you don’t know what that means, you’ll have to check it out. Well, of course, you need to check it out because ’tis the season.
To say we’re excited to be back would be an understatement. I hope you’ll pour a cup of coffee or glass of lemonade and enjoy the read. Here’s the link: Lake Living Summer 2021
I’m always excited/anxious when an issue of Lake Living is finally published. And eager to share it with others.
Tada. Like magic it has begun to appear on store shelves. The sad thing is that most stores are closed, but the great thing is that if I’ve posted it correctly, you can click on it here. And if you receive this and discover the link doesn’t work, please give me a few hours and then visit wondermyway.com again and surely I’ll have worked out the kinks. Well, maybe.
One of my articles, “Boathouse Mystique,” is about those buildings of yore that still dot our lake shores. This was probably the most difficult to write because most of the structures’ stories have turned into lore, but I had a lot of fun talking with a variety of people and making a few site visits.
My second article, “A Compromised Remodel,” is about a kitchen redo of the past year for my guy and me. It was quite an undertaking and along the way we each had to learn to give a little. Or, maybe a lot. Given where we are in the world right now, it all seems so trivial.
Here’s a peak at what the room liked like before the walls were bumped out.
A different view of before.
For a while last fall, it looked like we were having a daily open house! Our neighbors loved it because for the first time, they could see into the field.
My third article, I don’t have photos for because we used photos offered by NEAAO, as it’s about the New England Arab American Organization that formed in Maine in 2014. The title, “We Are All One At Home” seems apropos in the current spirit of things.
Be sure to also read the articles by Laurie LaMountain and Marguerite Wiser. Laurie shares the story of “A Better Bathroom” about another remodel project, “Designed in Denmark” about some really cool benches you could purchase for your shorefront property, and “On Food” about food and the choices we make. Who knew that would be so timely, as is Marguerite’s well-researched article entitled “Food Sovereignty.”
My final comment about this issue is this: please, please, please as soon as you are able, support the advertisers who support us. Remember, the magazine is free . . . thanks to those advertiser, some of whom have seen their business come to a halt. Here’s hoping it’s all temporary.
For the past few years, we’ve either produced a limited winter issue or no issue at all of Lake Living magazine because those who purchase ads have been wary about spending money during those lean months. And it’s ads that support this free magazine. Everyone wants to be written about, but . . .
After some back and forth discussion with editor/publisher Laurie LaMountain, we decided to produce a fall/winter issue that would encompass the usual “at home” features of the fall magazine, but also include the book reviews written by the Pam and Justin Ward, plus their employees, Sue and Perri, of Bridgton Books, that typically appear in the winter issue.
Tada. Click on the link above and you can view the magazine in its entirety.
Laurie tackled four topics, while I worked on three ideas. Hers include “The Big Idea” about a Maine inventor, “Maine Dwelling” about a guy who flips houses locally, and “A Good Keeper” about winter squashes.
Her most interesting article, however, is one that everyone should read–whether you are a male or female. Don’t let the theme of it scare you. Entitled “Fierce Girls,” and yes that is Laurie in the photo, it’s about WOMEN. And more specifically . . . men-o-pause. When she proposed it, I was curious but not certain it would work. You have to read it.
My articles all ended up with a Lovell theme–probably because I spent most of the summer in Lovell and it was always on my mind.
The first is entitled “Resurrecting the Past,” about the Harriman Barn that Robin Taylor-Chiarello (board member of the National Council on White House History and associate member of the American Institute of Architects) lovingly restored with the help of Timberframer J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post and Beam in Fryeburg and Builder Bryce Thurston of Lovell.
The marriage marks above were chiseled into the beams when the barn was built in the early 1800s. Scott used his own system as he pulled the timber frame down, and then reassembled it on a different site a couple of years later, but the early marks are still visible.
My second article is about two couples who chose to move north rather than south in retirement. Rather than snowbirds, as we fondly refer to those who spend six months in warmer climes, they are birdsofsnow. Okay, so I made that term up, but really, it does describe them.
In their retirement, they’ve discovered ways to get involved in their communities and that has made all the difference. Heinrich Wurm fills his days with environmental activities, especially as related to Kezar Lake Watershed Association or Greater Lovell Land Trust. Here, he’s studying a spider web. And that’s only part of his local involvement.
Linda, Heinrich’s wife, is a docent with Greater Lovell Land Trust, where she also enjoys looking at the finer details of the natural world.
But one of her main fortes is sharing those details with youth, whether they be her own grandchildren, or kids involved in GLLT-sponsored events, like those in the after-school Trailblazers.
For Elna Stone, retirement gave her an opportunity to pursue her artistic talent and painting local landscapes has consumed much of her time. On the left, she poses beside a painting of Shawnee Peak Ski Area at Pleasant Mountain that she donated to a fundraiser for Gallery 302 in Bridgton. For years, Elna created calendars of local scenes that were sold as a fundraiser for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Helping others either via the St. Peter’s or Bridgton Hospital Cafe has long been a passion for the Stones. Even cleaning windows at church can offer Tom a sense of satisfaction.
In the end, though they all love the life they’ve created in Maine, they admit there are some downfalls. One is that the winters seem to get longer each year. Linda Wurm has found a way to overcome that: a bowl of shells to gaze upon from time to time.
And then there’s my final article. It’s about three entrepreneurial men. They each bring a different talent to the . . . table. Literally. Eli Hutchins of Hutch’s Property and Tree chops the tree down.
Brent Legere of Lovell Box Company and Western Maine Slab Works cuts it into live-edge slabs.
And Eugene Jordan of Jordan Custom Carpentry, Inc, turns it into a beautiful piece of furniture. You can read all about it in “A Tree Falls in Lovell.”
So, yeah. Brew a pot of tea, curl up in your favorite chair, and enjoy this issue of Lake Living magazine.
Oh, and please support the advertisers, including my guy, so we can keep doing what we love to do: learn about the many talented people in this area. I am constantly amazed. I hope you will be as well.
As Laurie comments in her editor’s note, a theme emerged while we brainstormed article ideas. You’ll have to read this from cover to cover to get the full effect.
My first contribution: “The Maine Event” about four local wedding or retreat venues–each one with a unique twist. Even if you aren’t planning a grand event, it’s still fun to peek into the places and meet the people who make the magic magical.
A second contribution: “Summer Living,” which is a listing of what’s happening in the lakes region of Maine this summer. There are several shout-outs throughout this section, including one for our local land trusts and LEA as we collaborate to bring history alive through a series of walks along our trails.
And my final contribution: “You Get What You Give.” This is probably my favorite for this issue because, well, I won’t tell you why. You have to read it. And figure out. Let’s just say I was completely moved by the experience.
Laurie has written about a new venture for a young couple in “A Passion for Play,” cuze Becca and Scott, plus their son Parker, do love to do that. Especially on our lakes and ponds, as well as mountains.
She also wrote about a local farmer who does more than that–something about music and feet in “Geof’s Farm Pedals.” Another gotta read.
And her final piece is about Cannabased Wellness, aka “The Back Room at Nectar.”
Then there are the book reviews a la Justin, Pam, Sue, and Perri of Bridgton Books.
Plus all the colorful ads. If you do live locally, please let the advertisers know that you saw their ad in Lake Living. It helps with ad sales, which are key because the magazine is free to you.
Finally, I just LOVE the cover–thanks to Mary Jewett’s fine photography. It makes me grin every time I look at it.
Lake Living magazine: Summer 2019 is upon us now. 😉
If you are receiving this for a second time, I apologize, but the link to the magazine was incorrect.
I am beyond excited to announce that the spring issue of Lake Living magazine is now available on a store shelf near you . . . or right here!
It’s our “At Home” issue, where we feature articles about home-related items and projects. One of the projects is very close to my heart:
Yup, that’s our current kitchen. But as you can see by the title, change is in the air. You’ll have to read about it. The plans continue to evolve as I write, but we’re close to finalizing them. All that being said, nothing will happen until this summer as we still have a couple of feet of snow in the yard and after that melts, it will be quite wet for a few months. But stay tuned for The Evolving Home, part 2 in the fall issue.
Also featured: “Finding Home” by Laurie LaMountain–about rescue dogs and organizations that place them in forever homes; “Shaker Inspired”–a collaborative effort by Laurie and me about furniture built in Bethel, Maine; “A Patch of Land, part ii” by the up-and-coming writer Marguerite Wiser–describing the efforts of a local couple who have worked hard to turn their farm into a vibrant, year-round enterprise; “Cooking with Clay” by Laurie–highlighting the ever-delightful and creative Rusty Wiltjer, a local potter, and also featuring some cooking with clay recipes; “An Improved State of Home” by Laurie–offering fresh ideas for organizing and getting rid of some of your “stuff;” and finally, “Dear Earth” by yours truly–a heartfelt and funny homage to our wise and wonderful, but challenged Earth.
Please, please, please support the magazine’s advertisers (including a certain hardware store). Without them, we can’t continue to produce this little gem of a magazine (yes, I’m biased.)
And get ready . . . for soon, I promise, the snow and ice will melt and the wood frogs and spring peepers will come to a vernal pool near you.
It all started with an email message from my long-time mentor and former education director of the Greater Lovell Land Trust, Kevin Harding.
Wrote Kevin, “I rarely find a book that I’m willing to recommend to friends and colleagues. I rarely read books on saving the environment because I find them too depressing. I am guilty of feeling totally overwhelmed by the chaos and daily news of political disfunction that makes any kind of progress toward “saving the environment” seem impossible. Despite these feelings, I would like you to consider reading Rewilding Our Hearts by Marc Bekoff. No doubt many of you know this author and you may have already read some of his work. Bekoff can help us understand that the work we do in Lovell is in fact meaningful and productive.”
A professor emeritus of ecology and evolution at the University of Colorado, Boulder, (our youngest son’s alma mater), Bekoff is the author or editor of twenty-five books.
Since receiving the book, I’ve turned up the bottom corner of pages in the foreword and introduction that I want to reread and taken copious pages of notes.
In this book, Bekoff’s intention is to use the big picture challenges of “climate change, population explosion and constant damage to Earth’s ecosystems and loss of diversity” as the backdrop to encourage us all to change how we think and act–especially as it pertains to nonhuman animals.
“Rewilding our hearts is about becoming re-enchanted with nature. It is about nurturing our sense of wonder. Rewilding is about being nice, kind, compassionate, empathetic, and harnessing our inborn goodness and optimism,” writes Bekoff.
In the first chapter, he states, “Our effects on other species are wide-ranging and far-reaching, and we most likely understate the extent of our destructive ways. As with climate change, we often don’t know or fully understand what we’ve done or the extent of our negative impacts. Even worse, we have no idea how to fix the ecological problems confronting us, whether we are at fault for them or not.”
He encourages us to open our hearts and form a compassionate connection with nature–even in those moments when we don’t understand. For instance, in November a friend and I discovered two spiders in the water-filled “urn” of a pitcher plant on a land trust property. The larger spider was alive, while it seemed to play with the smaller dead spider that it kept moving with its hind legs. Was it trying to revive the youngster? Would the two or even the one be able to escape the carnivorous pitcher plant?
Watching something as small as the spiders or as large as young great blue herons is something some of us could easily take for granted, for we are fortunate to spend many hours as observers. Thankfully, we are constantly filled with awe and wonder.
As I read Bekoff’s book, numerous visions flashed through my mind and I thought of the corridors that our local land trusts have worked diligently to create. And with that came the memory of an article I wrote for Lake Living magazine in 2015 entitled “Land That We Trust”:
My happy moments are spent wandering and wondering in the woods of the lakes region. And photographing and sketching what I see. And writing about the experience. And trying to find out the answers. Honestly though, I don’t want to know all of the answers. For the most part, I just like the wandering and wondering.
Passing through a stonewall, I’m suddenly embraced by the fragrance of white pines that form the canopy over what was once an agricultural field. Beech and hemlock trees grow in the understory. Lowbush blueberries, Canada mayflowers, bracken ferns, Indian pipe, partridgeberry, sessile-leaf bellwort, Indian cucumber root and a variety of mosses and lichens add to the picture.
I follow a former cowpath that opens to the power line. At the edge, taller hemlocks and northern red oaks stand high, with a few beech trees in the mix. But my eye is drawn to the ground cover, varied in color and texture. Sphagnum moss, several species of reindeer lichen, British soldier lichen, wintergreen, bunchberries, junipers and sheep laurel appreciate the bogginess and sunshine of this space.
To the right of another opening in the wall, the neighborhood changes. This time it’s gray and paper birch that grow side by side. Nearby, a vernal pool teems with life.
In each space, I encounter evidence of animals, amphibians, birds and insects. Sometimes I even get to see these neighbors with whom I share the land. Gray squirrels build their dreys up high in the hardwood trees, while red squirrels prefer the white pine forest. Deer bed under the hemlocks. Snowshoe hare browse among the birch grove and its vegetative undergrowth. Yellow-spotted salamanders and wood frogs lay egg masses in the vernal pool. Snakes slither nearby. Frequent visitors to each area include porcupines, raccoons, skunks, turkeys, gray and red foxes, deer, woodpeckers, thrushes, chickadees, nuthatches and warblers. Occasionally, I’m treated to moose and bear evidence and sitings.
People, too, are part of this habitat. They recreate along the snowmobile trail that follows the power line. The stonewalls, dug wells and rusty equipment speak to the area’s history.
It’s land like this that our local land trusts work diligently to preserve.
A wee disclaimer: I’ve been a volunteer docent for about eight years and am now education director for the Greater Lovell Land Trust. My involvement stems from my desire to learn about what makes up the landscape that surrounds me.
Sometimes alone, sometimes with my husband or friends, I hike all of the GLLT properties on a regular basis. Trekking along trails with like-minded people who pause frequently to identify and appreciate what they see in any season puts a smile on my face. Something stops us in our tracks every time we explore and we gain a better understanding of ourselves and this place we inhabit.
This past winter, I started recording my outdoor adventures, wonders and questions in a blog entitled wondermyway.com. Sometimes those hikes on land trust properties became the subject for a post.
February 23, 2015: Bishop’s Cardinal Reserve, I’m fascinated by bear sign and love to find claw marks on beech trees. Oh, they climb other trees, but beech show off the scars with dignity for years to come. While bark on most trees changes as it ages, beech bark is known for retaining the same characteristics throughout its life . . . Seeing all the animal tracks and sign, some decipherable, others not so, makes me thankful for those who have worked hard to preserve this land and create corridors for the animals to move through.
March 31, 2015: John A. Segur Wildlife Refuge, It’s one of those places that I could spend hours upon hours exploring and still only see a smidgeon of what is there. I’m overwhelmed when I walk into a store filled with stuff, but completely at home in a place like this where life and death happen and the “merchandise” changes daily.
April 15, 2015: Otter Rocks, A princess pine club moss shows off its upright spore-producing candelabra or strobili. Funny thing about club mosses–they aren’t mosses. I guess they were considered moss-like when named. Just as the mills take us back in time, so do these–only much further back when their ancestors grew to 100 feet tall during the Devonian Period. They make me feel so small and insignificant. And yet, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be in awe of them.
May 3, 2015: Chip Stockford Reserve, There’s something about the Chip Stockford Reserve on Ladies Delight Road in Lovell that keeps pulling me back. I think it’s the history associated with this property that fascinates me. And the questions it raises. From the start, there is a cellar hole and barn foundation. Eldridge Gerry Kimball had purchased 200 acres on January 31, 1880 from Abraham E. Gray. Various journals from that time period include entries about driving cattle over to the Ladies Delight pasture, picking cranberries over by The Pond, as they called Kezar Lake, picking apples, driving sheep to pasture, picking pears, mowing oats and trimming pines. Today, it’s the huge pasture pines, stonewalls and a couple of foundations that tell part of the story. I’ve also heard that this area was used as a cattle infirmary. According to local lore, diseased cattle were brought to Ladies Delight to roam and die, thus preventing disease from spreading to healthy cattle. . . Another story about Ladies Delight hill is that this is the place where people would come to picnic in the 1800s. Did the women get dressed up to enjoy a day out, a break from their farming duties? I have visions of them wearing long dresses and bonnets and carrying picnic baskets. But could they really afford a day away from their chores?
May 10, 2015: Bald Pate Mountain, The “bald” mountain top is the reason I am who I have become. Being outside and hiking have always been part of my makeup, but when our oldest was in fifth grade, I chaperoned a field trip up this mountain that changed everything. The focus was the soils. And along the way, Bridie McGreavy, who at the time was the watershed educator for Lakes Environmental Association, sat on the granite surrounded by a group of kids and me, and told us about the age of the lichens and their relationship to the granite and I wanted to know more. I needed to know more.
June 16, 2015: Bishop Cardinal Reserve, Though we never plan it that way, our journey lasted three hours. Suddenly, we emerged from the wet woodland onto Horseshoe Pond Road–all the richer for having spent time in the land of the slugs, bears and caterpillar clubs. Oh my!
We are fortunate to live in an area where five trusts protect land for us and the species with whom we share the Earth: Greater Lovell, Loon Echo, Western Maine Foothills, Mahoosuc and Upper Saco Valley. This strikes me as a valuable reflection of who we are and where we live.
Land trusts work with community members to acquire land for permanent conservation through purchases and donations. They also create legal and binding conservation easements that allow residents to protect land holdings in perpetuity, while retaining private ownership. Scenic views, wildlife corridors, flora and fauna, and topography remain, subject only to the whims of nature itself, which is ever-changing.
Conserving the land doesn’t mean it can’t be touched. The organizations develop management plans and steward the land. Timber harvesting, farming, residency and recreation continue, while specific wildlife habitat, wetlands, unique natural resources and endangered or rare species are protected. And in the process, they strengthen our towns. Ultimately, they give us a better sense of our place in Maine and opportunities to interact with the wild.
The service area of each of the local trusts include watersheds and wildlife corridors. Greater Lovell Land Trust is committed to the protection of the Kezar Lake, Kezar River and Cold River and adjacent watersheds located in Lovell, Stow and Stoneham.
Loon Echo Land Trust serves seven towns: Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Naples, Harrison, Sebago and Raymond, and their efforts actually reach beyond to the 200,000 residents of Greater Portland for whom Sebago Lake is the public drinking water source.
Western Foothills Land Trust serves the Greater Oxford Hills towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. The watersheds they protect include Lake Pennesseewassee, Thompson Lake, Crooked River and Little Androscoggin River.
The Mahoosuc Land Trust works in central Oxford County, Maine, and eastern Coos County, New Hampshire. It strives to protect the watersheds and natural communities of Albany Township, Andover, Bethel, Gilead, Greenwood, Hanover, Milton Plantation, Newry, Rumford, Shelburne, Upton and Woodstock.
Likewise, the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust crosses the border and includes the communities of western Maine and northern New Hampshire that make up the upper watershed of the Saco River. Its service area flows from the source of the Saco in Crawford Notch toward the Hiram Dam and includes Harts Location, Jackson, Bartlett, Chatham, Conway, Albany, Madison and Eaton, New Hampshire and Fryeburg, Denmark and Brownfield, Maine.
In addition to their service areas, the land trusts collaborate with each other and local lake associations. Most recently, the GLLT, LELT, WMFLT and USVLT, plus the Portland Water District have joined forces to protect the fifty-mile Crooked River. The river is the largest tributary flowing into Sebago Lake and it provides primary spawning and nursing area for one of four known indigenous populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon in Maine.
Protection is key. So is education, which develops understanding and appreciation. I know for myself, my relationship with the landscape continues to evolve. The mentors I’ve met along the way have played an important part in my involvement and caring for the environment.
All five land trusts offer numerous hikes open to everyone, providing a great way to explore and learn more about the diversity of the natural communities. Staff and volunteers lead walks, stopping frequently to share a bit of knowledge, ask questions and wonder along with the participants. These organizations also offer indoor programs featuring knowledgeable guest speakers.
I’m thankful for the work being done to protect the ecosystem. There’s so much I still don’t understand, but with each nugget of knowledge gained, the layers build. Maybe someday I’ll get it. Maybe I never will. Either way, I’m happy for the chance to journey and wonder on land trust properties.
Even though we can’t all endow the future of our properties, we can get involved to ensure that these organizations continue to protect land for future generations of humans and wildlife so it will remain in its natural state for the benefit of all.
So back to Bekoff’s book, he quotes many biologists and others as he makes the point that when we experience alienation from nature we make bad decisions including “wanton killing of wild species, clear cutting, pollution and other human impacts, and caging of nonhuman animals.”
“What we do,” writes Bekoff, “does make a difference and rewilding our hearts is about fostering and honoring our connections to one another and all life.”
After all, as evidenced in our yard each day and night when the visitors are many, we share this place with and in fact live in the world of our nonhuman neighbors. We need to figure out how to live together–and that premise is at both nonhuman and human levels since we are all interconnected in the web of life.
Though Bekoff’s focus is on nonhuman animals, I do wish he’d also addressed other forms of life, such as fungi, insects, plants, and the like.
He does list what he calls the “8 Ps of Rewilding” as a guide for action: Proactive, Positive, Persistent, Patient, Peaceful, Practical, Powerful, and Passionate. “If we keep these eight principles in mind as we engage one another and wrestle with difficult problems, no one should feel threatened or left out,” says Bekoff.
As the book continues, there are definitions provided for catch phrases such as compassionate conservation and stories of unsung heroes who have made it their life’s work to “rewild our hearts and to expand our compassionate footprint.”
Bekoff is a realist and so am I. He would love to see us all become vegetarians or vegans, but realizes we will not. He knows that it will take people time to unlearn preconceived notions, especially given that the media thrives on misrepresenting animals. He knows that his rewilding our hearts is a concept with a broad agenda.
One of my take-away thoughts was that all of local environmental organizations are working hard to create corridors and raise awareness and awe about the natural world. Of course, we could all do better. But, we’ve already got a good start on doing what Bekoff suggests: “Figure out how to foster a love of nature and other animals so that every generation sees this connection as precious and vital and worth nurturing.”
But . . . he concludes that “if we all made some simple changes to our lives, the world would soon become a more compassionate place for all beings and landscapes.
And he reminds us to be humble and able to laugh at ourselves. Yeah, so um, I was the one who stopped a small group of friends as we moved along a trail on private property because I was the first to spot a great horned owl this fall. Yeah, um. It was plastic. And a set up. I’m still laughing.
Dear readers, if you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward. I know I got a bit off track by including my own article, but I do believe that we’ve got a start on rewilding our hearts in western Maine. Yes, we have a long way to go. Let’s do this. Together!
And remember, my guy purchased this copy of Rewilding Our Hearts at Bridgton Books.
Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence by Marc Bekoff, 2014, New World Library.
I wandered a bit of the Tenmile River Demonstration Forest with Laurie LaMountain, owner/editor/publisher of Lake Living magazine, this morning as we played catch up. Typically, we are in frequent touch with each other, especially while producing a magazine each quarter. But this winter, there will not be an issue, and so our contact has been less frequent.
Making our way via snowshoes was a bit of a challenge for the last heavy snowstorm downed many a tree and it was like maneuvering through an obstacle course.
As I stated in a blog post last year, the Tenmile River Demonstration Forest was donated to the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) in 1950 by Frank Merrifield, three years after the Great Fire of 1947.
Back in October 1947, catastrophic wildfires erupted throughout Maine during what became known as “The Week Maine Burned.”
It hadn’t rained for 108 days and the dry woods were like tinder. Here in western Maine, Fryeburg, Brownfield and Denmark thought they had a fire under control, but overnight a strong wind blew and gave it new life. About 2,000 acres burned by the next night as the fire spread to the edge of Brownfield.
With the winds continuously shifting, town folks began to panic. Farmers either turned their livestock loose or herded them to neighboring towns. Others packed as many belongings as they could and evacuated.
By morning, most homes and public buildings in Brownfield were mere piles of ash. Stately places including the Farnsworth Place where Dr. Philo Farnsworth, a pioneer in the field of television, spent his summers, had burned. Churches, schools, the post office, Grange hall, library and town hall all went up in smoke–only twenty houses survived. In the end, 85% of the town was destroyed.
According to the property brochure available at the kiosk, “The District Supervisors replanted the property with red and white pine” between 1950 and 1960. “It was their plan to turn the land into an example of wise and sustainable forest management and to use it as an education resource area to demonstrate good conservation management practices.”
Today, we noted some of the work that had been done as we made our way to the Tenmile River for which the property was named. And at the river, it was the amount of water passing through that drew us to a stop.
Standing beside it, we paused for the longest time. As it always does, the sound of the flowing water and sight of the ice captured our attention.
When the temperature dropped, the motion energy of water molecules dropped. At 32˚, water molecules slowed enough to link up with each other and formed a hexagon matrix. At that point, the liquid that once flowed became brittle ice in its varying forms.
There were examples of rime ice coating downed twigs. While frost forms from water vapor, the rime ice formed from water droplets–perhaps in a mist of our recent foggy days. If the temperature of the droplets was below the freezing point, they adhered to any surface below freezing.
Rime ice is hard and depending on conditions can be thick, heavy and white or clear in color. Today’s examples were the former and helped create unique shadows that danced in a way that will never be seen again.
That’s the thing about ice. It is ever changing and the patterns created intertwined with reflections upon the water provided lines portraying all manner of motion.
If you look closely in the lower right-hand corner, you may see the outline of a few people being pulled into the picture–the true water worshipers.
There was also a lady who reached up from her couch to grasp something–perhaps a bird of paradise. It appeared that the heart within her bosom was enlarged with love.
Every second of every day the pattern changes and so our observations were in the moment.
But no matter what, each rendition was a work of art, a sculpture to fill our souls and take with us.
As we took our leave, Laurie and I gave thanks for the opportunity to stand in awe and notice and be filled by the wonder of it all.
Of course, I got to hike many a trail with her and so perhaps my review is a wee bit biased.
The article ends with a brief description of several hikes–I tried to choose different levels of ability for those.
All offer incredible fall foliage viewpoints, including Shell Pond off Route 113 in Evans Notch. (Wait a month and it will like this again.)
Then there is the article about barbershops. In the process of writing this one, I learned the story behind the barber pole. Do you know it?
Sitting in four local barbershops was fun–a great way to catch up on gossip and listen to some funny stories. Again I was a wee bit biased as Steph of Steph’s Barber Shop in Fryeburg is our next door neighbor at camp.
And finally, I spent some time with Arborist Josh of J and C Trees and learned more about his talent, entrepreneurial spirit and love of trees.
To say it was a busy summer would be an understatement, but the final product of Lake Living was worth it–as usual. Oh, and Laurie and Perri also wrote articles that will appeal to you.
So . . . as usual, brew a cup of coffee or tea and curl up with Lake Living. You won’t be disappointed.
The clue was rather vague as clues go: Drive five hours south to the second dot to the right in Harbor View. And so we did.
The map provided helped–sorta.
And just before dark we located the spot that included not only a view of the outer harbor, but also the back side of Hammonassett Beach State Park on Long Island Sound in Connecticut. It was like we knew exactly where we were going.
As it turned out, we were joined by another couple with whom we’d formed an alliance for the race and so we decided to spend the weekend completing the challenges together. Funny thing–I think we felt so comfortable with them because she looked very much like my sister and he reminded us of my brother-in-law. With them was a young man who is about to celebrate his 24th birthday (in two more days) and so we all celebrated with him–but even his presence was part of the challenge. And so Team Budz (the alliance couple) and Team Wonder (us), shared the responsibility of his presence. They picked him up at the train station. We provided the cake, which he decorated himself. We also offered the musical accompaniment, much to his dismay. And together, presents, much to his delight.
Refreshed after a good night’s sleep in that delightfully salty air, we faced new challenges, such as sighting three mammals. Together, Team Budz and Wonder spied cottontail rabbits, which were probably the eastern species that was introduced into New England in the late 1800s/early 1900s and have expanded in range ever since, rather than the native New England Cottontail. Both feature large hind feet, long ears, and a short, fluffy tail that resembles its namesake–a cotton ball. Suffice it to say: it was a cottontail. We also saw a red fox that looked a bit mangy and was too close to home, poking up as it did on the rocks in front of our accommodation, and a momma raccoon that, sadly, had been struck by a car–ever so gently struck.
Challenge number two found us seeking two sea birds. We found adult Osprey standing guard,
and scanning the water for a fishy meal.
Meanwhile, their young patiently awaited breakfast in the nest built of sticks upon man-made platforms that were installed at least thirty years ago. And actually, while we watched them, we noted something disturbing–tangled fishline dangling from the construction site. That led us to send out a word of caution–dispose of your tangled fishline so the birds and other aquatic species with whom we share this Earth don’t get wrapped up to the point of no escape, aka death.
We did note that while some of the young Osprey stretched their wings to capture the sun’s warmth and waited for mom and pop to return with a meal, a couple of smaller birds used the nest structure as a great place to pause below and contemplate the surrounding world. Osprey eat fish and perhaps the smaller birds knew that? Or they just made the right decision.
The Great Egret was the second bird we were assigned to watch . . . as it watched.
And exclaimed its beauty.
And watched some more.
And then . . . the splash.
To pull in.
And swallow some more.
Suddenly, in a flash of time, for so it seemed, Team Wonder needed to hold up its end of the alliance bargain and get this guy back to the train.
But–we needed directions to the railroad station, for we wanted to make sure that he made his connection in New Haven.
We were told to look to the sky for a message–and it was there that we found an advertisement unfolding in what struck us as a strange place, but perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all, for it was above some train tracks. Another Happy Birthday Message?
Whatever, it turned out to be the right one. First, the Shoreline East to New Haven and then the Metro North to Grand Central. And off he went–to his home of the past year and his career in the film editing industry (and his 24th birthday in two more days).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aka Alliance Inn, the tide was slowly coming in, but we headed out, two teams as we were, ready to take on the next adventure.
My guy and Mr. Budz led the way through the shallow water the outer harbor has long been famous for.
It’s a tradition of the neighborhood–this gathering place at low tide.
Team Wonder did get a wee bit worried when Team Budz paired up ahead–where they going to ditch us at the channel?
But they didn’t. Instead, they paused with us to look at one of the wonders we needed to find by the sandbars–what was it?
A sand collar–which felt like sand paper above and was smooth below. It was actually a mass of snail eggs. A rather amazing form.
On the sandbars and in the water, Spider Crabs appeared fierce, but were really quite nonchalant. Note the round and spiny carapace, with small spines running down its back. The crab is known to attach bits of algae, mud, and seaweed to many sticky hairs all over its bodies for camouflage, thus giving it a frightening look, but don’t take it seriously. It moves quite slowly and won’t pinch your toes like some of its relatives.
And then we saw the wicked cool Lady’s Slipper of the Sound. Slipper shells they may be, but their natural history is amazing. The following is from the University of Rhode Island: This shell is shaped like an egg or oval that has been cut in half with the top of the shell turned sharply to one side. Looking at the underside of the shell, it is easy to see how it got its name. Underneath the shell is a ledge to support the internal organs; this ledge extends about half the length of the animal. Different slipper shell species are characterized by different shell textures, including rough, smooth, ribbed, corrugated, and flat. Although they have a foot for locomotion, by the time they reach maturity they anchor themselves to a hard substrate and remain stationary.
And there’s more: All common slipper shells start their lives as males, but some change to females as they grow older. A waterborne hormone regulates the female characteristics. Once they change into females, they remain females. They often stack up on top of each other for convenient reproduction. The larger females are on the bottom, the smaller males are on the top, and the hermaphrodites are between the two. If the ratio of males to females gets too high, the male reproductive organs will degenerate and the animal will become female. Eggs are laid in thin-walled capsules that the female broods under her foot.
Common slipper shells also form stacked aggregations when there is no hard substrate on which to attach. They attach to objects in large numbers and can sometimes suffocate the animal on which they are attached.
Who knew? I just thought they were common slipper shells.
We’d finished the sandbar challenge and had no idea how the other teams might be doing, though we did wonder if some of them were thrown off for we spotted a sign that said “sanbars” instead of “sandbars” and we could only hope that they’d gone off in search of the former–to no avail.
Alliance Inn beckoned, as did the incoming tide, and so we headed back toward the shore.
And the next challenge–completing the Sunday crossword puzzle. My guy read the clues and told us how many letters and the four of us shouted out answers–whether they fit or not. I silently kept score (sorta) and was sure that Team Wonder was in the lead, but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, for we had agreed on an alliance after all. At least for this weekend.
At last the sun set on the day. And the outer harbor.
And we celebrated the day’s discoveries with a bottle of The Cottage for it seemed apropos. I think we were all in agreement, however, that the bottle was much better looking than the flavor and we aren’t exactly wine connoisseurs.
And then this morning dawned with another bird ID challenge. First up–who had taken up housekeeping in the apartment building meant for the Purple Martins? House Sparrows.
And we wondered if they might have some young in Apartment D for come and go did the male and female, both attentive to whomever hung out within.
Overlooking it all, a Purple Martin–though he never defended his territory.
And immature Starlings . . .
as invasive as ever . . .
stood ever so ready to move in to Apartment B.
Who stood on the right-hand jetty? A Greater Yellowlegs Sandpiper, its bill longer than its head.
And on another jetty to the south–a Cormorant gathered warmth in its wings, first turning to the right.
Then to the left.
And finally slipping back into the water and cruising by.
At last, much to our dismay, our time with Team Budz drew to an end, quite like the way a day lily such as those my mom so loved and planted everywhere, shared their pollen and then closed up. Who knows what the next episodes will bring. Will we continue to join forces with Team Budz to complete the next challenges? Will they pull ahead of us? Or we ahead of them? We’re only halfway through the Race and as we all know–anything can happen.
But–as we lived in the moment, we certainly loved this episode’s opportunity to celebrate a certain young man’s 24th birthday, ID birds we hadn’t paid attention to since we were kids, explore the sandbar once again, and enjoy the camaraderie of this couple we’ve grown quite fond of. As we go forward, may the best team win . . . and if it can’t be Team Wonder, then we sure hope it’s Team Budz.
It’s a sure sign of spring when Lake Living appears on a shelf in a store near you. And if you can’t actually put your hands on a copy, then here ’tis. Those of us who work for the mag have the best jobs in the world as we get to meet so many “wicked cool” people who live and work among us.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but indeed, I do. Especially if the book isn’t really a book, but rather a magazine called Lake Living. One look at those vibrant hacky sacks against the snow on the cover of the new winter issue and I find myself mindful, each time seeing a different configuration of the whole or focusing on a single feature.
And then there is the content, from Laurie LaMountain’s editorial comment ending with “Our collective differences have the power to both define us and unite us,” to the book reviews by the staff of Bridgton Books.
Of course, thrown into the mix are the articles, including Laurie’s eloquent feature about hacky sack and relationships, ending with a challenge to all of us. A must read.
And don’t miss my two contributions, “digging for roots” about genealogy and the Fryeburg Historical Society’s Kendal C. and Anna Ham Research Library; and “forever green” about . . . evergreen trees.
Laurie’s been producing the magazine for twenty years and I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with her for the last twelve. Here’s to the future.
P.S. If you live locally, please mention the mag when you are shopping. Remember, the mag is free and therefore totally dependent upon advertisers. It can’t survive without your support.
I always get excited when an issue of lake living is published. This spring issue contains great articles including three by moi (so of course they are great!)–groundcover (a quiet garden oasis in Bridgton) , Into the Box (Lovell Box Company) and The Art of Collaboration (where glass meets wood at Studio 448 in Norway). Click on the link and enjoy!
It’s not every day one walks down the street with a house, but that’s exactly what many of us did yesterday as the Rufus Porter Museum was relocated from North High Street in Bridgton to Church Street.
The Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Heritage Center was founded in 2005 to showcase the folk art history of the area, with an emphasis on Porter’s work. The mission of the museum is to “celebrate the life and times of a remarkably creative American genius who worked throughout Maine, New England and beyond.”
Rufus was an entrepreneur who painted miniature portraits, as well as highly-prized wall murals that are still in houses throughout New England. Besides being a traveling folk artist, he was an inventor, musician, teacher, and founder of Scientific American magazine.
Among his inventions was a horse-powered boat. And he tried to develop an airship that would take people from the East Coast to California in three days.
Folk art collectors Julie and Carl Lindberg had the foresight to save much of the material culture of the Bridgton area, including the work of Porter and his apprentices, and chose to give back by sharing their collection with the community and supporting the Rufus Porter Museum in its infancy. And now, the museum is on the cusp of growing. While it has been housed in a red Cape on North High Street, which the Lindbergs made possible in order to share murals and other pieces of decorative arts, yesterday it was in transition to a larger space.
The move was a huge undertaking, despite the fact that the over 200-year-old house was moving less than a mile down the road.
While a crowd gathered to watch each inch of the journey, my guy returned from a morning run. He’s training for the Moose Pond Half Marathon, a fund raiser for Shawnee Peak’s Adaptive Ski Program. As is his style, he thanked everyone for coming out to cheer him on. (The race is on Saturday, Nov 5, if you really do want to cheer him on.)
Over an hour later, Rufus Porter’s works were on the move.
While Cole Watson (a former student of mine) drove and his father, Dana, walked beside, workers from Central Maine Power and Fairpoint checked wires and trees along the route.
There were only a couple of snags, which were quickly resolved.
The town came to a standstill for this momentous journey. It’s not every day a house winds its way down the road.
Beside the Civil War Monument forward motion paused for a bit.
Many of us became sidewalk engineers over the course of the day, something Rufus Porter would have embraced, as we tried to determine the next steps. Main Hill was our main concern. What if . . . Some had visions of failing brakes and a mad dash down Main Street to Food City. Others had visions of the mill pond at the bottom of the hill coming into play. Fortunately, the Watsons had it all figured out and this was just another work day for them. They chained a second truck to the back of the rig before the journey continued.
As if a routine performance, all went well and Cole maneuvered around the bend by Shorey Park.
On Main Street, he pulled left to avoid overhanging trees, making for a snug journey beside the Hayes Block.
And then it was time to pause again so that Cole, Eric Wissman (the contractor in charge of building renovations) and Dana Watson could make adjustments to the wheels before the final turn.
The Cape was headed to the back part of the lot behind the 1842 Webb House at 121 Main Street.
Turning onto Church Street proved the tightest squeeze of the entire operation.
In honor of the arrival of its new neighbor, the library threw a party in the courtyard.
Before the shift toward its new foundation, the Reverend Emily C. Goodnow, pastor of Bridgton’s First Congregational Church, invited the crowd to gather round for a house blessing.
Many raised their hands to the Cape as Pastor Emily spoke of the building’s history, including the fact that it was built for the Reverend Nathan Church, Bridgton’s first minister, and blessed its future.
Then the real work began–the shift from transient to permanent.
Like he’s been doing it all his life, because he has, Cole walked the beam with confidence.
The chain was secured and Kyle Warren moved the beams to their placement under the house.
Skates, as they are called, were placed on the beams, the one on the left to be used in front, and the right one for the back.
After laying cribwork, checking measurements and making sure all was level, the first leg of the shift began.
By 3pm, the house stood at the edge of the foundation.
The Watsons decided to call it a day as it would take at least two more movements to get it into place. And so, while the house isn’t officially in its new space yet, it is well on its way.
And for all of us who had the opportunity to observe the move, it was a day well spent. It was a day to make history and recall history. It was a day for community as witnessed by all those who came out to watch and chat and speculate. It was a day to renew old friendships and meet new people.
It was an honor to walk with Rufus Porter and trust he would have appreciated the efforts of all. This was a man, who in the 1840s, could look at a problem and find a solution or any number of solutions to make things more efficient. I think he most certainly would have enjoyed the journey.
My guy and I spent this morning roaming about the woods in Lovell with several friends who are docents for the Greater Lovell Land Trust. We had been invited to explore a 20-acre property and the owners, Barb and Bruce, were in hopes that we’d discover interesting things.
As it turned out we explored much more than their property because we got a bit mixed up with boundary lines, and came away with some questions to ponder about the lay of the land as well as a scavenger hunt for their grandchildren to conquer.
Before we headed off into the woods, Barb wanted us to see a neighbor’s off-the-grid tiny cabin. To get there, we passed through a red pine grove that immediately put me into question mode. Why a grove here? Who planted them? When? I know that the Civilian Conservation Corp did this sort of thing in the 1930s and had been in the area–Stoneham and Bridgton, Maine, as well as Chatham, New Hampshire. But my research didn’t indicate that they’d done any projects in Lovell.
What I did learn, however, is that the farmer who once owned this hilly land may have received a subsidy to plant the trees in order to control soil erosion and turn them into a cash crop. An article in Northern Woodlands states the following: “The government further subsidized red pine seedlings throughout the twentieth century as a way of providing hill farmers with a future cash crop that would grow on otherwise played-out soil. Red pine seemed the perfect candidate for this, as it’s fast growing and susceptible to fewer serious enemies than most pine species. (White pine can be bedeviled by white pine weevil and white pine blister rust – neither of which affect red pine.)”
From their size and close proximity to each other, its apparent that the “cash crop” never paid off. Instead, Barb and her husband have a stately cathedral overlooking the mountains and a quiet passageway to visit their neighbor.
We returned from our quick house tour and followed a double-wide stone wall to an opening. Again, we questioned the wall’s purpose. A way to get rid of stones? Did they use the bottom portion of the land below the wall for agriculture and let cows or sheep roam above? We didn’t come up with the answers, but continued on.
It was time for us to find some treasures that the grandkids can seek. Rock tripe is first on the list.
It’s gray-brown upper surface turns dark green when moist–so be sure to bring along some water to pour on this lichen. Then watch the transformation.
Though edible in a last ditch effort by someone who doesn’t mind chewing and chewing and chewing some more, rock tripe is neither delicious nor nutritious. Some Native peoples used it as a soup thickener and others as a last resort tidbit. If you soak it for a while it will soften up.
The temperature was cooler this morning than the last few so a skim of ice covered the surface of this vernal pool. I’m not sure how long it will last, but if it’s still there, dip a pail in and look at the assortment of species that swim about. Maybe you’ll even see some frog or salamander egg masses if you visit in the spring.
Here and there we found the pods of Indian pipes. In the summer, look for their ghostly white form–they look like their name, with the flower part hanging down. If it’s turned upright like this one, it has been fertilized.
Though long since spent, puff balls are another fun find. Poke them and watch the spores float out like smoke from a chimney.
The pileated woodpeckers love this mixed hardwood forest, so you might find evidence of their work on the floor. And then look up into the tree to locate the cavity they’ve excavated.
We found several bird nests, including this one made of grasses and wiry stems. A fraction of a blue egg shell sits inside.
Wait until late winter/early spring to search for these, when the wind has blown them to the ground. But leave them be. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, “It is illegal to collect or have in your possession live native birds (adults or young), bird feathers, nests or eggs, to try to incubate wild bird eggs, to keep nests or eggs even for “show and tell” educational purposes, or to have road-killed birds in your possession without a permit.” Do you know why? Do some research to find the answer.
There’s a variety of fungi growing on the trees right now, and come summer, you’ll find more on the ground. We had our favorite mushroom guru with us, who helped us ID this species as mock oyster.
Tinder polypore is one of my favorites because it looks like a horse’s hoof. Another research project for you–why did the Ice Man carry a sample of this?
There are numerous nurse logs, but this one struck me as especially beautiful. Mosses and liverworts grow abundantly along its upper surface and provide a place for all kinds of action to happen. Look for small saplings taking hold. Can you find the shelled remains of an acorn or the scales of a hemlock cone? Who do you think left those? Any small, twisted scat?
Or how about something that looks like this–lots of hair and bones matted together? This is an owl pellet and with the help of your adults, you can actually pull the bones out and reconstruct the skeleton(s) of the prey–be it vole or shrew or even red squirrel. Sometimes the pellets contain the skeletons of more than one critter.
I would love to learn that you found this–a young beech tree growing through paper birch bark. Which came first? And why?
Another sight for you, and one to certainly watch out for–barbed wire. We found it all along the back boundary, where it grows through the trees. This is rough country and there are no stone walls. The wire probably dates to the 1880s or later. Be careful.
The land had us wondering about esker ridges as it dipped and rose. We’ll try to ask those who know more about local geology to help us gain a better understanding.
We realized we’d zigged where we should have zagged, but didn’t care because we share a passion for the exploration.
As we headed down, we stumbled across another garden wall and
small rock piles like this one. My first thought–a well. That was until we found several others. Maybe just rock piles.
Our final find as we stepped through a wetland making our way from a neighbor’s property to the road–the winter look of shinleaf (Pyrola elliptic).
I’d promised everyone a two hour tour, but those who know me best know better. Three hours later we knocked on the door to thank Barb and Bruce for the opportunity–for sharing their land with us and giving us the opportunity to share our Mondate with others.
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