Monday, June 30, 2008

A lesser known sign of Spring

This post is starting off with pictures of wildflowers and a warning that farther down there are pictures of poop (also known as scat).

When hiking this past weekend, we saw many piles of moose scat. Moose scat usually looks like large pellets. This pile looked like pellets of saw dust.

In the winter, moose eat twigs and branches and don't have a lot of water available and by the time those twigs and branches make it through the moose's four-chambered stomach what is left is basically sawdust.

Well, as we continued our hike and began our ill-fated bushwhack, we came across a large pile of green soft ploppy kind of scat. We all thought bear and peered into the underbrush--the pile looked fresh and was very large. Katie asked "Are bears vegetarians?" I think her question was in response to the greenish color rather than a risk assessment, but either way.

I wanted to poke the pile with a stick to see what was in it, but my hiking companions' enthusiasm seemed to only extend to a photograph. I couldn't get that scat out of my mind--was it really a bear? It didn't look like bear scat and it was such a large amount--maybe Sasquatch? There have been sightings in Maine. What could it be? Well, I couldn't wait to google and here's what I found.

In the Spring, moose change their diet to green grass and new growth leaves which contain more water and are easier to digest. It takes about 14-18 days for the bacteria in the moose's digestive system to adjust to the new diet and in the interim their scat is green and not at all traditionally moosey.

Well, now we know. Another sign of spring to go along with robins, crocus and sundresses.

{editing by Beth at 10:19 a.m., after several people mentioned in comments that scat is another name for poop, I made that editorial change thinking that it might make me sound smarter :) }

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lost in the mist.

We planned a very ambitious hiking day yesterday with Mike and Katie. It was our intention to leave Dixfield at 6 a.m. (check) and drive up to the Caribou Pond Road near Sugarloaf (check) and hike to South Crocker, Crocker and Reddington Mountains (here's where the checks get blurry and soggy).

Our plan was to drive as far up the road as we could and then walk to the place where the Appalachian Trail crosses Caribou Pond Road and hike north on the AT to South Crocker, then take what was described as a well-defined bushwhack up to Reddington Peak then re-trace our steps and get back on the AT to Crocker--it seemed simple enough.

Well, our first mistake was by walking past the trailhead and continuing to the end of Caribou Pond Road--maybe an hour or more of walking and 1000 feet in elevation that we didn't need to do. How all four of us managed to miss the AT going off both to the right and the left is beyond me, but we missed.

Once we found the trail, off we trotted. Soon we found a cluster of Amanita muscaria also known as Fly Agaric (used at one time to make fly poison it is now known to produce states of delirium and raving but few fatalities). We didn't sample it, although had we known it's properties we might have been tempted on the return hike.

About a mile into the hike, we stopped for trail mix and water and were passed by a large group of friendly hikers that were doing a traverse of the Crockers.

After the rest break, the trail got very steep--Mike had GPS and while I tried not to listen when he said our elevation at our break stop, I heard enough to realize that the next 1.4 miles was going to exceed my generally acceptable 1 mile:1000 feet ratio. I took my time, kind of embarrassed by my tortoise speed but getting there nonetheless. We were in clouds the whole way but there were several spots where we could imagine panoramic views of the Sugarloaf region.

We made the summit of South Crocker and then decided to make the bushwhack of Reddington--this is where it all fell apart. The bushwhack was very tough and not well-defined at all--eventually an hour into it we were into a spruce-fir thicket so dense that we couldn't see the person in front or behind and so we decided to cut our losses and head back to South Crocker. It turns out, we had gotten off track--well I guess that should have been obvious. Back at the summit, we enjoyed our lunch and headed back down the mountain.

It was nice to have shared the day with Charlie, Mike and Katie and now that we know where the trailhead is and where the bushwhack isn't, I may return some day to capture the views but maybe not too soon.

Happy Anniversary

A year ago today, on the banks of the Ohio River, Ethan and Ann got married. It has been a mighty nice year for mom, hearing in phone calls, emails and instant messages how happy they are and what a fine life they are making for themselves.

Debt is enemy #1 for them and they are starting out their young lives making smart decisions that will affect their entire lives.

They respect each other and allow the other room to grow. Ann is such a strong, secure, intelligent young woman--willing to explore everything intellectually and verbally and to be firm in her opinions and I am very happy that my son was strong enough, secure enough and intelligent enough to value that in a woman.

Happy Anniversary, Ethan and Ann. I love you two and treasure your happiness.

Friday, June 27, 2008

50 States in 50 Days--The Abol Slide

A man named Mike Haugen is attempting to reach the highest point in each of the 50 states in 50 days. He began on June 9 in Alaska when he summited Denali. From there he flew to Florida and then began the 48-state driving portion of the trip. He is sponsored by Coleman and has a two person support team helping with the driving and the logistics. Some of the state's summits are drive ups but not the one he tackled for #27.. On June 25, he conquered Katahdin. For those of you who know Katahdin, he went up the Abol Slide trail in TWO HOURS and came down it in 1 hour and 10 minutes. My ankles ache just thinking about it.

On Memorial Day weekend 2006, I was hiking up the Abol Slide trail with Archie and a few of his friends. Well, we started hiking together but after about 25 steps, the boys said, "Do you mind if we go ahead?" and that was the last I saw of them for many hours.

Using the word trail for any of the ascents of Katahdin is really a misnomer. Trail implies walking--upright--I've never done that on Katahdin--it's hands and feet scrambling for most of the way. Abol is no exception. It is the most direct route to the summit and ascends straight up a slide which tore off the south side of the mountain in 1816.

After the boys left, I kept up my slow, steady, cautious climb. I felt very isolated and alone in the slide that day, but I was liking it--I was starting to get to a place in life where I realized that I could do the things that I enjoyed whether I was with someone or not. After several hours of clambering over the boulders on the steep slide, I heard a voice from above me say, "Are you alone?"

Briefly, I considered that it might be God and this was some sort of Saul on the Road to Damascus moment, but I squinted up to where the voice was coming from and instead of God I saw a man sitting on a boulder with a baseball cap on his head. I said "Yes" and felt kind of annoyed that he had interrupted my solitude with such a stupid question. He shouted down, "This is a dangerous trail, I'll wait for you and we can hike together." I was totally annoyed now, who was this guy implying that I was too helpless to hike alone? But, annoyed or not, I'm a polite person so I climbed up to where he was and smiled and thanked him and we began hiking the rest of the way together. It turns out he had been hiking with his daughter and her friends and they had run ahead--as it turns out they were on the summit enjoying meeting up with my son and his friends.

As we neared the summit, my son and his friends met us on their way down. They seemed to be having a good time and I suggested that they have supper ready back at the campsite when I made it down. My new hiking companion's daughter and her friends were waiting for him on the top. We briefly ate lunch and all started down. Well, I hadn't gone 1/10 of a mile before I stepped off a rock and twisted my ankle--badly. I have NEVER done that before or since and the fact that I did it on top of Katahdin when by all rights I should have been all by myself--leads me to think that God might have been involved in this after all.

My new friend helped me down and it was a very very long and difficult process. I couldn't put any weight on my left foot and scrambling down those rocks was worse than going up them. Of course, the reality is that my son and his friends could have carried me down without breaking a sweat but they were long gone by the time that I hurt myself.

Anyway, I never even learned the man's name that helped and hiked with me that day but I often imagine that he was a guardian angel perched on a boulder in a baseball cap.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

They are so good

I can't stop eating these--we've gone through four quarts since Tuesday--this is only Thursday.

It's good for you!

Isn't it funny how we pick and choose among available "expert" studies related to health and well being.

Sometimes I make lifestyle choices because of science but mostly I just tend to to pat myself on the back whenever something I am already doing turns out to be healthy.

For instance, blogging---to quote this week's issue of Newsweek. "My Shrink Says...Blog!"

The article begins, "Why do people write confessional blogs? It's a creative outlet. It's a forum to vent. It's an exercise in exhibitionism. To mental-health experts, though, it's more than that: a blog is medicine. Psychiatrists are starting to tout the therapeutic power of blogging, and many have begun incorporating it into patient treatment."

So, there you go, gentle readers, the health benefits of blogging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Maine--the way life should be (sometimes)

Every summer busy people head north on I-95 in order to spend a little time where the signs welcoming them say "Maine, the way life should be".
As a state, we welcome these summer visitors and enjoy all that they offer and we try to provide them with an opportunity to enjoy our lifestyle in exchange for a slice of their hard-earned Massachusetts money. Whether or not we mean to, I'm sure we provide some people with stories on which they dine for many months. Isolated as we are--we tend to eccentricities and cherish our oddities. For an outsider with a good eye for humor, the state is rich. Lawn art--need I say more.

We have some good friends whose work lives are in Massachusetts but who have a lovely second home on a lake nearby. Their son is the same age as my oldest daughter and for many years the young people have enjoyed spending time together whenever he comes north with his family.

Several years ago, probably the first year that he had his drivers license, he called Sara as soon as he got into town and asked if she would like to go to see the latest Harry Potter movie. He picked her up in his father's car and off they went. When she got home, she came into my room and woke me up with a story that bears repeating.

Apparently, the young man was speeding to avoid being late for the movie. He wasn't just going 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit--but more like 20 or 25. Significant speeding--what we call criminal speeding in Maine. Somewhere between here and the movie, they saw blue lights and pulled to the side of the road.

The poor young man felt terrible--newly licensed, his first day in Maine, embarrassed in front of Sara---------not to mention sure to be late for Harry Potter.

The rather portly policeman walked over to the car and made some comments about the high rate of speed, looked into the back of the car and then said, "Are either of you over 21?" "No" was the reply, they looked at each other unsure what the policeman was referring to----------well, apparently the young man's parents had made a stop at the New Hampshire Liquor Store on their way north and had filled the back of the station wagon with their summer supply of alcohol and had not unpacked before letting their son take the car to pick up my daughter to go to see Harry Potter.

Hmmm, well--this is where the story gets good. The policeman told the kids to take the beer out of the car and put it into his police car and then he let them go without a ticket for the speeding. They made it to the movie with their only regret being that the missing alcohol would require an explanation and he would have to tell his parents that he had been speeding.

As a disclaimer I should say that a few years later, serious ineptitude was uncovered in that police force and the entire force was replaced but at the time, I'm sure it went back to Massachusetts as one more good story about Maine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Planning a trek

Soon, the annual Source to the Sea will begin. This is a river trek beginning at the source of the Androscoggin River in the waters of Lake Umbagog and ending 19 days later at Fort Popham as the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The river drops 1500 feet over its 160 miles.

The trip is divided into manageable days of paddling and is open so that folks can join up for the whole thing or just a piece of it. There are naturalists and ecologists and historians along who interpret and share information.

Several years ago, Archie and I joined for a day from Dixfield to Jay and, ever since, I have looked at the river differently during my daily drives.

Daughter Sara's good friend Alexa is spending the summer working on a film about the Androscoggin as part of her college program at Bowdoin College. A month or so ago she invited me to join her on the two days of the trek that she planned to film. We planned July 11 (Shelburne, NH to Gilead, Maine) and July 12 (Gilead to Bethel).

Sadly, she called yesterday and said that her schedule was only going to allow her to participate on Saturday--but to tell you the truth--I was wondering if two days was a little ambitious for someone like me with no upper body strength and who hasn't kayaked in two years. Particularly since, Alexa is a basketball star and probably can paddle fast enough for someone to waterski behind.

The Androscoggin was once terribly polluted by the paper mills and textile mills along its course. By the late 1960's , it was one of the most polluted rivers in the country. In the summer, the oxygen content of the river over its course frequently hit zero which meant that there was no fish population.

In 1977, Senator Edmund Muskie, who grew up in Rumford along the banks of the Androscoggin at its very worst, sponsored the Clean Water Act Since that time the river has improved markedly. It supports a wide variety of fish and wildlife and many Bald Eagles, once as endangered as the Androscoggin, nest along its banks.

I graduated from high school in 1977--it wasn't really that long ago. The rivers were a mess all over the country then--isn't it amazing that by regulation and awareness we have helped so much of the environment recover. Times seem bleak again--we are worried about global warming and the polar ice cap and energy costs and impacts--but I think humans are imbued with a great deal of ingenuity and maybe in 30 years I'll be peering through my bi-focals and writing about how much better the environment is than it was in 2008. I hope so.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And.........we're back

We left our beautiful land of lakes and mountains and headed to the big city. The weekend was all that we had hoped for but isn't coming home about the sweetest thing ever?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A get away

It's been kind of a frazzling few weeks around here what with the end of the school year and way too many court days, not to mention the personal turmoil. So, when the going gets tough; the tough get going--I cleared my calendar and we're heading off for a long weekend!

So, do not worry (yes, Texican--that means you) when you don't see fresh posts--I will return renewed in a few days.

We are heading to New York--Ruth's posts about her trip with her daughters whetted my appetite for a bite of the Big Apple.

As I have confessed publicly on this blog before, I am married to a Yankees fan--so we have seats on the third base side for Friday night's game at Yankee Stadium. I was told not to ask how much they cost--so I won't but I hope there's enough discretionary funds left for hotdogs.

We have plans to meet up with a good friend of Charlie's from Germany who is working at the United Nations for a few months and I have a hankering to explore Central Park. Other than that, maybe a meal at a little Bleecker Street restaurant we discovered last year.

Have a good weekend, see you next week!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Operator, please connect me.........

I was thinking today about all the folks out there that I consider friends because we read and comment on each other's blogs and how I feel supported in good thoughts and prayers and whatever good will is available. I treasure the way we laugh and cry and follow each other's lives through posts and pictures and I treasure the things we teach one another--a recipe, a book review, a knitting pattern or how the bird migration is coming along. I especially love the way we are all over the place--different cities, different states, different countries, different continents.

And it reminded me of a story..............

I'm afraid that I may get some details wrong and ask that if anyone knows more about this than I do, please correct my factual errors.

In August, 1990, Iraqi troops moved into Kuwait and many of the Americans then in Kuwait were taken hostage in the American Embassy in Kuwait City. Among the Americans was a Southern Baptist Missionary named Maurice Graham and his wife and two sons. The Iraqi's released the women and children within a month or so but held onto the men .

At the time we lived in Tennessee and were members of a large Southern Baptist church which had an empty home available for the missionary family. The wife and two boys moved into the home and our church set about making them as comfortable as possible. Theirs was an experience that would be impossible to imagine for any one who didn't live through it and one of the things that our church did well was insulate the family and protect their privacy while they waited for their husband and father to be released.

I do remember one story, though, that came out during a women's meeting. The missionary wife had to make some arrangements with the telephone company that resulted in her talking with someone in an office many states away from ours. At the point in the conversation where the telephone operator asked for the name on the account, the missionary said her husband's name, Maurice Graham. The operator stopped her business-like questioning and said "Is that the Maurice Graham that we have been praying for?"

This was before normal folks had the internet but the prayer chain had spread wide and a telephone operator in another state recognized a name and a need.

I guess that's kind of what I was thinking about today, the internet helps us get thoughts and needs out to so many people--I can imagine somehow we who share each other's hopes, dreams, accomplishments and sorrows on the internet are really connected in a sort of spiritual sense.

When I was googling information and trying to remember dates and names, I found an incredible story from the December 24, 2007 Boston Globe about Aaron Graham, who at the time I knew them was the 10 year old son of Maurice Graham. This article is well worth the time to read.

Non Sequitur

Have you ever had one of those days where there seemed to be no segues? Yesterday, I drove my almost 18 year old son to the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was a three hour drive and he slept most of the way and while he slept I thought about his childhood and how until about a year ago all we ever did together was smile and laugh.

As we neared the airport, I touched his arm and asked him if he would like something to eat. He saw a McDonalds and said that would be good.

We went in and ordered our food. Words were hard, I couldn't think of any new ones and he had already moved on in his mind but there was a TV in the restaurant to distract us from the need for conversation. Except, here's the weird thing--the TV was tuned to an infomercial for a colon cleansing product--does any one think that is appropriate for a restaurant--especially that particular restaurant?

Near the end of our meal either the channel changed or the infomercial ended because the screen was full of images of Iowa City where he had been a little boy except now the streets and parks, bridges and buildings are full of water.

The plane landed in Philadelphia safely and the big brother is now the point man. It will all be good.

I drove home thinking about Iowa City and our lives there and what it would be like if we had stayed. It proved impossible to imagine--way too many variables to consider but my thoughts are certainly with all of those who are struggling with weather and uncertainty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

It seems that you can only have so much theoretical knowledge about birding and at some point have to actually get out there and look for a bird preferably with someone experienced--so after months of reading nature blogs and books on birding, FINALLY my schedule allowed me to participate in a field trip with the Stanton Bird Club

The club is in the Lewiston/Auburn area--about an hour to the southeast and the date has been marked on my calendar for months. At 3:30 a.m., I was wide awake and worried that the alarm would fail to go off at 5--so decided to head on down the road. In Western Maine the only ones on the road at dawn are the logging trucks and when I stopped at the Corner Store for coffee I had to navigate through a crowd of loggers getting their morning infusion of caffeine and gossip. As it was, I ended up being the first one in the parking lot at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary close to an hour before the scheduled meeting time. A little excited, maybe?

Over dinner the night before I had confided to Charlie that I was nervous about meeting new people and participating in a new activity--"Do you think they will laugh at me?" "Do you think birders are very judgmental?" He assuaged my fears and assured me that I would have a wonderful time but no, he didn't want to come along.

So, the folks were really nice and not judgmental at all--they didn't laugh at my shiny new copy of Birds of Eastern and Central North America nor did they roll their eyes when I struggled with my binoculars. They helped me learn how to use my binoculars and patiently helped me locate the birds. Most of the birding was done by ear and they assured me that birding by ear was a skill that should be acquired slowly. So I listened and learned. The birds weren't all just sounds in the forest, though. We spotted two pileated woodpeckers high up in a dead tree. I could have stood and watched them all day.
We also saw a common yellow throat warbler, a eastern phoebe, a brilliant indigo bunting, a tree swallow, a brown creeper and a black and white warbler. There were a few more that I didn't see or didn't see well so I'm not counting them. I decided I would only count them if I would recognize them again.

As I was driving home at 10 a.m. after four hours in the woods (how does that work?) my mom called and asked me to stop by and take a picture of a beautiful poppy blooming in her garden. It was indeed spectacular. What a beautiful morning!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Brothers

Probably just about exactly 18 years ago, I came home from a prenatal appointment and was met at the door by my five year old son who demanded to know whether the doctor had told me the gender of the new baby. I smiled at him because I knew that after two sisters, this answer was very important to him.

"It's a boy," was the answer--he closed his eyes, tilted his head toward the sky and said "How did God know just what I wanted."

He was an incredible big brother, every bit as responsible as Henry Alden from The Boxcar Children
In fact, if circumstances were ever such that he and his three siblings were living in a boxcar, they would have been just fine. I remember one day after reading the first book, he asked if we could have bowls of bread and milk for dinner. We did.

The children searched every old home we ever happened into looking for a wardrobe that they could use as a passageway to Narnia and Ethan was always ready to don a beaver coat and become Peter.

He was always Kermit when the kids played Muppet Babies and in the stories that I told them sitting under our elm tree, he was Blue Feather, a little native american boy with 3 little siblings. He was always the first one to do everything and to make sure that his siblings were safe when they tried it. I honestly think Ethan did at least as much parenting as I did over the years (and I'm not especially proud of that).

Well, the big brother is an engineer now, all grown up and living in another state with a wonderful wife and a few days ago invited his little brother to come out and spend some time over the summer living and working. Sometimes it's a good thing just to get out of Dodge--so I'll put the teenager on a plane this weekend with a hope and a prayer.

Trek Across Maine

Today is the first day of the 2008 Trek Across Maine--Sunday River to the Sea.

The trek started today at Sunday River Ski Resort and ends on Sunday in Belfast, Maine on the coast. By 8:30 this morning the riders were starting to pass our house.

There are over 2000 bicyclists making the trek and raising money for the American Lung Association of Maine.

Mike and Weatherboy are representing the River Valley Blogger Community. Good luck, guys!

When I lived in Iowa, there was a ride called RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa) sponsored by the Des Moines Register newspaper. I wonder if other state's have similar events? If you know about a bike trip in or across your state or province, be sure and comment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Root systems

When hiking last weekend, we saw a tree just off the trail that must have toppled over the last winter. I was struck by how shallow the root system was on the 35-40 foot tall tree.

Roots on trees have a three-fold purpose. To collect nutrients, to collect water and to support the tree and keep it from falling over. In the mountainous forests of northern New England, the soil is so rich in nutrients and moisture that the root system spreads out rather than down and, with the granite of the mountain just below, the rich soil layer is often so shallow that a tap root has nowhere to go to provide stability.

So, thinking about the root system kind of made me wonder how much people are like trees. Maybe, it's through struggle for our physical and emotional needs that we gain depth and stability.

If our roots have to work hard enough to give us what we need then when we get buffeted by winds of adversity or burdened by loads of ice, snow or heartache--we can hang in there--maybe we would bear some scars but we wouldn't be bottom-side up beside the trail.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mt. Garfield

Last night after checking trail conditions and the hour by hour weather forecast, Charlie and I decided that today we would hike Mt. Garfield.

There are 48 peaks on the official list of New Hampshire mountains that top out at over 4000 feet. Over his many years as wilderness director at Camp Calumet, Charlie climbed many of the peaks and when we got married in August, 2006, we started hiking them together.

When our hiking season ended last fall, Charlie still had one more to go--Mt. Garfield--and today was the day. We e-mailed Tom to see if he could join us, but he and Atticus had hiked on Saturday in the 90+ heat and felt that a day to recuperate was necessary.

Mt. Garfield is at the northern edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness which is one of the most precious treasures of northern New England.

The trail was 5 miles to the summit with a 3000 foot elevation gain. Many of the trails we hike have a 1 mile: 1000 foot gain ratio, so this one seemed gentle enough for my first hike of the season.

I had especially remembered Tom's slideshow from his winter hike up Garfield and all along the trail tried to remember the music and reconcile the snowy scenes in the slideshow with the heat, humidity and bugs that were our experience. Despite the heat, humidity and bugs, though, this hike easily made it into my list of favorite hikes. Texican--you need to start training because this is the one you are taking the next time you come north.

The views from the top of Mt. Garfield were spectacular. According to the guidebook, 30 of the 4000 footer peaks are visible from the summit. It was so much fun to be able to identify the peaks and remember the hikes that accomplished them. I still have nine left on my list of 48, but Charlie is able to tell a story about every peak--he didn't tell them all as we basked in the sun on the summit cone but I expect over the next several months, he will.

Reluctantly, we headed off the top as clouds gathered in the west bringing fears of a thunderstorm. The hike down took as long as the hike up--I never understand why that is.

When we situated our sweaty bodies in the car, I said "there's something on our windshield and it looks like an envelope and I think it says Charlie and Beth on it" It was a friendly note of congratulations from Tom who had driven from his home in Lincoln to the trailhead in Bethlehem in order to deliver it--how did he even know which car was ours? With gas at $4 a gallon it was certainly an enormous act of kindness--Thank you, Tom.

Congratulations, Charlie. You chose an awesome way to view art. It has struck me many times that fewer people have seen the enormous beauty from the summits than have seen the works of DaVinci.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I love these shoes

Shoes and I have a love/hate relationship--I love shoes that make my feet feel good and make it easy for me to do all of the activites that I enjoy--but I almost always hate the way my feet look in them. That said, however, I can never bring myself to trade comfort for fashion.

I always look with envy at women in dainty high heels. But, how do they actually walk in them?

When I was a little girl, I sometimes played with Barbies. Barbie was a fascinating creature--that platinum blonde perfect hair, those gravity-defying breasts and those tiny little feet! Each Barbie outfit would come with at least one pair of teeny weeny little plastic shoes--I found the shoes the most intriguing part of the whole Barbie phenomenon. Clearly, I'm not the only female whose self image was tainted by Barbie's perfection but I have spent too much of my life feeling that if I only had enough patience, the right attitude and plastic surgery on my feet--maybe I could wear Barbie shoes.

But, alas, I am one of the girls in sensible shoes--walking across the room is more important to me than how I look getting there and so, I have never tested physics by teetering on high heels.

This is the third summer in my nifty Keen sandals and this summer I am noticing other people in them--even other women--even some women that might be considered fashionable. Oh yes, life is good.

AND a few nights ago at the school district budget meeting when I was sitting in the back with Rach and Weather Boy, I noticed that Weather Boy definitely had on a pair--so, clearly, these shoes have crossed gender lines and have hit the Dixfield fashion scene big time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Trouble in the fields

The days are definitely hard to get through recently. Plenty of good reasons for it--suffice to say difficult teenager times. The difficult times will pass, there is love and support enough to get everyone through, but that doesn't make the immediate days any easier or sleep any more accessible.

So, with my mind clouded, concerned and sad, I have not been able to write for the last few days. Even simple maintenance tasks like making the coffee, feeding the cats or washing my hair seem monumental.

But, today I decided to take charge of myself--the only part of this that I can really control. A trip to the grocery store for colorful, healthful foods helped. Then an e-mail from my nutritionist daughter-in-law suggested hot cocoa with LOTS of organic cocoa powder--Check!

The teenager will make it--he's always been one for finding the most difficult routes just because they were there. Whether he remembers or not, there's an anchor, a top rope and belayers who love him.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Sunday in June

My folks moved to Maine 9 years ago this month. They left a beautiful home and extensive gardens in Tennessee to follow their daughter and four grandchildren up to the edge of nowhere.

Somehow, without even really trying, they found 120 relatively flat acres in this hilly landscape just bursting with wildflowers. Without looking back, they traded their perfectly designed flower beds and landscaped yard for miles of trails that they share with moose, bear and wild turkeys.

Today, I went walking over there and found about 50 pink ladies slippers. From one spot, I counted eleven.

In some places the forest floor was blanketed with Bunchberry plants, Canadian Mayflower, Starflower and Clintonia.

Such fleeting beauty, it will be gone by next weekend. But if all goes as planned, I will be taking pictures of other spring beauties in the Alpine Garden on Mt. Washington next weekend. Stay tuned.

The Clintonia (the yellow plant below) is also called blue bead because it's blossoms develops into bright blue berries that feed the birds and other little forest creatures.