Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.

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The Cure

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The photo within this photo was taken by Gregory Rec, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine.

The sun is back! We have lingered on the western-facing deck the past two afternoons to soak up some rays — really just an excuse to take the cure: Hang around doing nothing, drink a few beers and act like it wasn’t still winter in Maine. This morning the light in the stairwell was so beautiful I had to try to capture it in a photo.

The photo below was taken Friday afternoon. The Cabin Fever Snow Pile Races snow pile is still massive but pithy and not strong enough to withstand races anymore. This afternoon will likely present another fine opportunity to take off my fleece sweater, roll up my jeans and bask in the warm March sun and perhaps enjoy a brew … or two.

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Dramatic clouds lowered yesterday afternoon and I watched a rain shower progress toward the west in the southern sky. When I took this shot, police cars and fire engines were racing south on Rt. 202, their echoing sirens amplified by the Presumpscot River corridor. As I sat surrounded by the sounds of emergency vehicles and this dynamic vista, I sent out a prayer ‘for whom the bell tolled,’ so to speak.

Later there was a big bonus when I off-loaded my photos and saw that there were orbs in nearly every picture. Now, orbs fascinate me. Logically, I know that they are created by refracted light and camera lenses, but I love to ponder the alternatives. Plus, what about orbs in photos that aren’t taken in sunlight? Are they elemental beings or spirits of loved ones watching over us? Is Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz approaching?

Maybe these were the results of my prayers. What do you think?

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Spring Impressions

The photo of our nachtmare driveway in the post previous to this one makes me cringe. I feel the need to turn my attention to a more inspiring photo of fleeting spring impressions that some beautiful leaves made in the snow.

This picture was taken Saturday, March 10, 2012, in the area of our property that my husband and I call “Fairyland.” It is an area bordered by white pine and white birch trees that leads from our house to the Presumpscot River. The spring sun isn’t high enough yet to touch the glacial mass that has accumulated here this winter.

The ragtag winter remnants will be there for weeks to come, even after we get temperatures of nearly 70˚ but it will never be as pretty as it was the day this photo was snapped.

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On edge

It’s not at all unusual to hear of reports of coyotes howling in the starry suburban night. We have had neighbors say they’ve heard their hair-raising calls, but until this evening, we never had. Our place backs up onto a long swath of woods that runs along a river, so we’ve seen plenty of wildlife during our many years here. Beavers, foxes, fishers and eagles are frequent visitors and we have even had a moose trim the bushes near the house. Still, when we heard eerie sounds coming from the woods this evening, we quickly stepped outside to secure Mr. Wonderful, our Maine Coon, then stood quietly for a few minutes to listen.

No further baying ensued as we breathed the crisp air and soaked up the bright half-moon and star-encrusted western sky. Although all seems right with the world for tonight with Mr. W tucked inside safe and sound, I must admit I feel a little on edge.

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Treasure Tossed

The Little Falls impoundment of the Presumpscot River is down again. Sappi had an initial draw down in July to assess work on the dam and this week they’ve got it down even lower than before for repairs.

We went down to check it out Tuesday evening, accompanied by a very vocal Mr. Wonderful. Meowing his concern, he followed us onto the silty bank, inspected the middens where the raccoons feast on freshwater clams under the tree roots, then made himself comfortable on the rocks while we rooted around in the mud.

The first things to catch my eye were some clams languishing on the silt. I gently placed them into the water so they’d at least have a chance to survive the hungry raccoons. I feel a little guilty about the ones I probably missed. Mucking around for the clams, I uncovered two pieces of a broken depression glass sugar bowl and a number of other large, thick pieces of broken glass bottles around an area of exposed ledge which usually has several feet of water over it. I wanted to get a shovel and dig. Maybe I’ll do just that, tomorrow, before Hurricane Irene arrives.

Many years ago, people repeatedly came down to this beautiful river and unceremoniously hucked their household trash into it. Tuesday evening, we went to that river, recovered some of that trash and arranged it carefully on the bench on our back deck. As though it was treasure.

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Draw Down

This week, Sappi Fine Paper is working on the hydro dam at Little Falls on the Presumpscot River. Living along the Little Falls impoundment, we received a postcard in the mail a couple of weeks ago, notifying us of the fact that Sappi would need to draw the water down to a level sufficiently low to perform routine dam maintenance. They do this every year and it’s always rather exciting for me, because I get to explore the tree roots, rocks and sandy banks that are usually submerged in the artificially high impoundment.

Yesterday, I put on my Wellies and climbed down to the exposed bank to have a look around. The water level seemed to be about where I imagine it would if there weren’t a dam downstream. (What a pipe dream.) The natural slope of the bank and the placement of the trees tell the story about how it would look in its natural state. Currently, the banks are at constant risk of erosion from lapping water undercutting them. The big trees are giving way one by one in this unstable situation. In our 26 years here, we’ve seen three large trees fall along that bank. Two right into the water (one of which got caught up in the Little Falls Dam) and one big oak fell back onto our property, providing us with some firewood and a handy riverside trunk for sitting.

It’s stressful to witness the clouding, silting and erosion caused by the wake every time our downstream neighbors make one of their frequent trips in their fast motorboat. Today, I was astonished to hear the boat racing upstream even with the water level lowered. My heart sinks a little every time they roar past and the water slaps the riverbanks. I imagine the two blue herons I saw yesterday feel the same.

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Oil be seeing you…

We walked our woods Saturday, sans snowshoes, (sadly, they’re not needed at this time.) We marveled at some cool ice formations, gawked at some rusty easy chair springs sticking up out of the snow and leaves and couldn’t believe our eyes when Will spotted two empty 55-gallon barrels on the bank of the Presumpscot River. They certainly weren’t there as recently as a month ago. How in the hell did they land there? Together, in perfect composition.

My imagination stirred. Hmmm. Oil drums. Embedded in ice at the shallow edge of our river. Not exactly a wholesome stumble-upon, but certainly a compelling set up.

One barrel has big block letters that spell WASTE OIL on it and also seems to possess some serial or identification numbers along the rim. The other is just uninterrupted gorgeous rust tones. They’re both in really good shape and the scavenger in me wants very much to claim them for repurposing. I can envision a blazing fire in a barrel stuffed with branches and the soft, piney wood I wouldn’t want to burn in the fireplace. Another vision has rakes, brooms, pitchforks and shovels upended in the oxidized barrel, stored for the winter in the barn. Or maybe it’s set up under a dripping eave, peacefully collecting rainwater for watering flowers.

Whether we get to be the ones to take possession of them and drag them through the woods to the house will play out in the thawing months. Soon, I will call the cops to dutifully report the existence of the barrels on our property. Probably, they were dumped in the river in an act of vandalism at the Gambo Dam turbine building, which is the next man-made structure upstream from our property. The cops might keep them for their own garage purposes, return them to their owner if they can be traced or (and here’s my personal preference,) they could honor the old “finders keepers” rule.

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Winter is tardy.

It’s not officially winter yet, I know.

It is, however, the middle of December. And it’s 50°F outside!

Inches of rain scalded the house in the last 24 hours. What should have been a colossal snowstorm has gushed down the gutters and to the river. Such a waste. I’m actually getting the itch to ride around on the Deere, the grass is so long and green. Balmy weather like this after a cold snap brings spring peepers to mind.

The ice formations were so ethereal on Saturday. No snow on the ground, but it was cold enough for the spray from Gambo Dam along the Presumpscot River to form rime ice and water stalactites along the western bank raceway. This morning, the water was tumbling forcefully through the ledge, the ice replaced with rushing rapids.

In the breezeway, the snowshoes, boots and poles sit patiently, waiting for relevance.

For today, the practice of patience eludes me.