Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Year in the Maine Woods

Last night I finished A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich. The author, who is a professor at the University of Vermont, took a sabbatical to live in his cabin in the Maine woods for a year and explore all that was around him through the seasons.

When my oldest son was about four years old, curious about everything and on my last nerve, I would send him outside with a pail and tell him to come back when he had filled it. By the time he had his pail full, I would have had a cup of tea, have put the younger kids down for a nap and be ready to explore his bucket with him. There were always great natural treasures in his bucket--snake skins, ectoskeletons, flowers, egg shells, unusual leaves and sometimes something alive. We had a 24-hour observation period on the live specimens, although I remember one time we could not identify the creature and ended up keeping it an extra day so that we could take it to the local University and have a biology professor take a look at it with us--we got some strange looks that day but finally found one willing to indulge a four year old and his mom.

A Year in the Maine Woods is like spending a year exploring what was in the pail. Bernd makes discoveries everywhere and they are fascinating to read about. He details the cocoon of a moth that he found in a viburnum bush near the brook by describing the imprint of the moth on the pupal skin left behind. He eats grubs and ants in the fall and the spring to test whether or not they are sweet with the antifreeze glycerol. He brings a group of students to research and live in his cabin for a few weeks--he teaches them to observe and discover with every step they take and as a reward whips up a meal of fried mice for them. One of my favorite observations is of a red squirrel in the late winter running from sugar maple to sugar maple, making bite marks into the branches and then returning days later to eat the maple sugar left behind after the sap had run from the wounds and evaporated.

In one of my favorite chapters, Bernd sets out for a run on a logging road. As he jogs down the road, he sees a moose lumbering toward him and he quickly climbs a maple tree. He observes the moose for a while as it casually travels toward the tree and then stops beneath it. As Bernd heads back to his cabin he decides to stop in at his closest neighbors' home to tell them about the moose.
"That called for a beer or two, and a supper of fresh corn, while sitting around the fire outside. Ron said, 'I wonder what the rich folks are doing tonight.'"

The area in which the book takes place is within about 15 miles of where I live, making it all the more enjoyable. The Farmington Diner where Bernd often retreats for coffee, eggs and companionship is about to be torn down to make way for a Rite-Aid.

Mt. Bald which he mentions several times has been recently logged over but still stands proudly over Wilson Lake.

It's impossible to read Bernd Heinrich without falling in love with golden-crowned kinglets and ravens. I have yet to find a kinglet, although I am constantly vigilant when in the spruce-fir forests in the winter. But the ravens are everywhere and whenever I see a pair or a group of juveniles, soaring and diving and perching I think about Goliath and White Feather and Jack and wonder if I am watching the descendants of one that I met through the pages of a book.

The books ends with this wonderful paragraph.
"Like the indigo bunting and the phoebe that live here, I've traveled widely. I've lived in California, Africa, New Guinea, South America, and the High Arctic. But I've come back to the hills of western Maine. These are my favorite haunts, because this is home, where the subtle matters, and the spectacular distracts."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snowman

He's jolly, robust and made of hay. Between the snowman and the soundtrack of Hairspray blasting through my speakers, the gloom of the day couldn't touch me.

Teenagers

Traveling in northern Franklin County yesterday to talk with teenagers who have seen too much of life, we stopped to take pictures of horses and then the view.

I enjoyed the company of the young people and once again marveled at the resilience that is part of some people's DNA. Why do some disintegrate under extreme pressure and others become diamonds?

Then last night, we went to a Dirigo girls' basketball game. They are an average Class C girls basketball team--not the dynasty of the past--but at least as much fun to watch as the teams responsible for the many state championship banners and the retired jerseys. I teared up when the cheerleaders performed at half time--such happy, energetic girls of all shapes and sizes--no Cheerleader Barbies--just real girls.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Arethusa Falls

This morning as I headed to Crawford Notch to climb Mt. Willey, snow was falling. In the parking lot at the trailhead, I contemplated whether I was a peakbagger or a viewbagger and settled on the latter. According to The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains By Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman, thirty-three 4000 foot peaks are visible from Mt. Willey but it didn't seem like any of them would be showing up today.

So, Plan B was to drive a little bit farther south and hike up to Arethusa Falls. It is a short hike and not the workout that I had hoped for, but the woods would be pretty, the waterfall would be frozen and I could take my time and enjoy.

The parking area for the trail provided a nice view through the falling snow of the cliffs above the Frankenstein trestle. The last time that I hiked up there it was early spring and the peregrine falcons were swooping on the currents near the nests they built on the cliffs.

As expected, the woods were beautiful and my snowshoes were the first to hit the trail with the new snow. The snow crystals were so delicate, that they looked like spun sugar on the trees.

From reading posts by nature bloggers, particularly winterwoman, I have learned to look hard in the winter woods for color and for life. It isn't hard to find.

The snow continued to fall as I headed for the falls and after 1.5 miles and 900 vertical feet, I got to the trail junction for the falls. Arethusa Falls is 200 feet high and the highest waterfall in New Hampshire. It doesn't look like much frozen, but I could hear the water rushing under the ice and imagine its springtime power.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Hiking

Tomorrow, I am hiking up into the mountains. This will be my first time this winter to head up into the high peaks and feel the cold wind and see the mountains all shrouded in white. I still have ten peaks unclimbed on the list of White Mountain 4000 footers and tomorrow will try and knock Mt. Willey off. I'm not an expert winter hiker by any stretch of the imagination but I do like to get up into the heights a few times each winter to test myself and treat my senses.

The first mountain that I climbed in the winter was Old Speck, here in Maine. Old Speck at 4180 feet is the third highest point in Maine. The day I climbed it, the thermometer never made it into positive territory. I hiked alone while A and two friends were ice climbing below in Grafton Notch--at the time it seemed like a reasonable idea. I managed to summit, going up wasn't the hard part. But coming down, my fingers were too cold and I was too inexperienced to strap on my crampons, so I fell rather painfully and dangerously several times. My water bottle froze solid, my power bar froze solid and my feet and fingers felt like they were frozen solid. When I reached the car, as the heater blasted, I figured out the missteps.

Since that first winter hike two years ago, I have only had good experiences including a memorable ascent of Cannon Mountain last winter with E and about 10 of his fraternity brothers who were in New Hampshire on a ski weekend and a 3-day trip into Carter Notch with A and two of his friends. Hiking with strong young men is a pretty good safety strategy.
"Down on My Knees" by Ginger Andrews from An Honest Answer. © Story Line Press.

Down on My Knees

cleaning out my refrigerator
and thinking about writing a religious poem
that somehow combines feeling sorry for myself
with ordinary praise, when my nephew stumbles in for coffee
to wash down what looks like a hangover
and get rid of what he calls hot dog water breath.
I wasn't going to bake the cake

now cooling on the counter, but I found a dozen eggs tipped
sideways in their carton behind a leftover Thanksgiving Jell-O dish.
There's something therapeutic about baking a devil's food cake,
whipping up that buttercream frosting,
knowing your sisters will drop by and say Lord yes
they'd love just a little piece.

Everybody suffers, wants to run away,
is broke after Christmas, stayed up too late
to make it to church Sunday morning. Everybody should

drink coffee with their nephews,
eat chocolate cake with their sisters, be thankful
and happy enough under a warm and unexpected January sun.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Africa Reading Challenge

Over the last two years oldest son, Ethan, and I have shared several books on Africa. The continent is a life-long intrigue for both of us and while I'm an armchair traveler, he was fortunate to live and work in Namibia for a couple of months in 2006. Before he left, we both read "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" and "Scribbling the Cat", two excellent memoirs by Alexandra Fuller.

Because I enjoyed her writing so much, one of my "blog alerts" is set for "Alexandra Fuller"and this morning a blog alert e-mail led me to a website inviting people to participate in an African Reading Challenge.

Ethan and I decided to participate in the challenge together and had a lively e-mail conversation deciding which books we would read. We decided on the following:
  • I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation by Michela Wong
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The Shadow of Kilimanjaro by Rick Ridgeway
  • What is What by Dave Eggers
  • Africa: The Next Decade by Arthur Gerstenfeld
  • A continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa by Howard French
As each of us finishes one of the books, we are to blog about it and link the entry onto the African Reading Challenge page. I'm looking forward to the reading and to sharing the experience with Ethan.

goodbye, pretty cup

it slipped as I washed it this morning. So sad

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wood

The only industry in Dixfield is a lumber yard owned by Irving Forest Products. It produces kiln-dried pine lumber literally in my back yard. The long pine logs come in on 20 ton logging trucks that rumble through town. The logs are piled up and sprayed with water to keep fungus and other aerobic organisms at bay and are then moved around by a big green crane. Much of the land in town that we use for recreation is owned by Irving and they seem to responsibly manage their wood as a renewable resource. The trails on which we run and snowshoe were originally paths for the skidders to bring logs out of the woods.

Our home wood supply is ash. Last summer and fall, A brought in four cords. In other years we have burned oak or maple, but ash is my personal favorite. I love ash--it burns hot and long and is light enough for me to pick up a big piece. When I put a log on the fire and look at the long straight grain of the wood, it reminds me of Spring and baseball.

Ash is used in baseball bats because its strength to weight ratio is high. Baseball players can lift the bat and still have the strength to swing it and hit a ball over the wall. Likewise, middle-aged women can lift a big log and still have the strength to throw it on the fire where it will burn all night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What do you notice?

Last night as we enjoyed our dinner while watching the local news, the sports anchor showed a video of Tom Brady with a plastic cast on his right foot. The video was taken as the Patriots' quarterback walked toward his girlfriend's apartment in New York. My comment, was "Oh, he's bringing her flowers." I think C gave me a sideways glance, but I can't be sure.

When the camera went back to the set of the local news, the sportscaster and the male anchor were commiserating about the ramifications of a possible foot injury to the Patriots' chance in the Super Bowl. The female anchor said, "I just noticed that he was bringing her flowers."

What do you notice?
Hypothesis: This may break pretty clearly along gender lines.

Chalk dust

In our house, no matter how often I vacuum or dust, there is a fine layer of dust covering everything. The wood stove and the cats are responsible for some of it, but we have a climbing wall in our family room and the climbers use chalk and chalk is, well, dust.

Yesterday in the beautiful, old, barely-used courthouse in Rumford, which is engulfed in renovations, I noticed that the counsel table was covered with the same fine layer of dust that is on all of my furniture. My initial reaction, was to look up and around to see if anyone had put climbing holds on the beams. Then I heard the jackhammer and the shouts of workmen and wondered instead if it was asbestos.

I believe that the renovations are mostly to the building, but I am fearful that they will intrude into the courtroom itself. The courtroom is a reminder of what Rumford once was when the mill, dependent on the mighty Androscoggin, was at its peak. The courtroom has 20 foot high ceilings (which would actually be good for climbing), a jury box and an imposing bench. Behind the judge's bench there is a beautiful mural of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. It is a magnificent piece of art that reminds us of the gravity of what we are doing in that courtroom.

These days, there is only a judge there a day or two a week and only for misdemeanors and civil matters. Jury trials for the county were moved to South Paris some 30 years ago, but back in the day this frontier court must have been something. One older lawyer yesterday was reminiscing about the last murder trial that he had in that courtroom. He told of being on the 2nd day of cross-examination of the pathologist when the defendant stood up and declared "Oh, let's just stop this, I did it."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Carter Range, September 2006

In September, 2006, C and I spent a weekend hiking over the Wildcats and across the southern Carter range. As we climbed Carter Dome on the morning of our second day, we met a man who was hiking with his dog.

It isn't so unusual to see people hiking with dogs, but it is fairly unusual to see someone hiking up the rugged high peaks of New Hampshire's White Mountains with a schnauzer. We unconsciously alternated rest breaks with the man and his dog, stopping to exchange pleasantries each time one of us passed the other.

At a ledge over-looking Carter Notch and the hut, the man took a picture of us. Way down at the bottom of the picture, you can see the green roof of the hut. It obviously had been a steep climb for all of us--but for that little schnauzer?

Carter Dome, at a height of 4832 feet is the 9th highest of the White Mountains. When we made the summit, we had it to ourselves with no sign of the man and dog who had passed us again a little before. Despite its height, the summit of Carter Dome does not provide much of a view. C, who had hiked the trail before, assured me that less than a mile to the north, Mt. Hight would provide a beautiful view across Pinkham Notch and the eastern side of the Presidential Range.

We kept at it--heading north on the Carter-Moriah trail to Mt. Hight. When we got there, it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. There was an undercast in the Notch and the Northern Presidentials poked up through it like islands in an ocean of clouds. The leaves were just starting to turn and the contrast of the clouds below the majestic peaks and then the blue sky was just incredible.

It's impossible to share such rare beauty with a stranger without feeling that you have slipped into friendship, so we shared the summit with the man and his dog and talked a bit about who we were and what we did and why we were climbing a mountain on a Sunday in September when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees.

The man's name was Tom and his dog was named Atticus. They lived in Massachusetts where he operated a controversial political newspaper. Tom and Atticus climbed 4000 footers every weekend year-round and were planning on hiking all 48 4000 footers two times the coming winter as a fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund.

He told us about an internet hangout for hikers called Views from the Top and said he would sponsor us as members. C and I became avid readers of the posts on Views from the Top and our favorite poster of trip reports was, of course, Tom and Atticus. His writing was amazing. If the standard advice to writers is to write about your passion, he was clearly passionate about the mountains.

When I was a little girl growing up, my neighbor was an artist named Arnelda Richter. On a summer morning, she would find me knocking at the sliding glass door of her studio. She would let me in to watch her paint--I loved her artistry--especially her paintings of the ocean because she painted the ocean the way I saw it. As a child, I couldn't understand why others couldn't capture the ocean quite right--of course now I know that we all experience things differently. But just like my artist neighbor painted the ocean the way it was to me, Tom writes about the mountains the way I know them.

The man and dog are at it again, this winter attempting to climb all 48 4000 footers two times to raise money for MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center. Tom sold his newspaper last fall and moved up to New Hampshire to write and to hike with his companion, Atticus. I have never read his political writings, but his mountain writings are extraordinary. If you have ever wondered what it is like to climb mountains or to love a dog or to heal from heartbreak, Tom can tell you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Route 17

The East Branch of the Swift River rumbles down from the wild Tumbledown region and joins the Swift River on its journey to the Androscoggin. Arctic cold slipped in overnight and these rivers will probably be frozen over soon. They sure were pretty on my drive up Route 17 yesterday.

Farther along the road, I could see the huge expanse of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the mountains west into Quebec.

Town names in Maine

In a recent post, I referred to Mexico--meaning Mexico, Maine. Maine is a state of vast and varied natural beauty with an interesting and eclectic population but the original settlers did not spend too much time coming up with town names. To give them credit, getting rocks out of the fields and stocking enough food and wood to get through the winter must have been time consuming.

Maine contains many towns named for countries or ancient cities. My town is bordered by Peru, Mexico and Carthage. Nearby, we have the towns of Paris, China, Poland, Denmark, Belgrade, Madrid, Naples, Athens and Rome.

Dixfield was originally named Holmantown after a prominent family but, legend has it, a doctor named Dr. Elijah Dix told the townsfolks that he would build them a library if they would re-name the town after him. The library never materialized but eventually Dr. Dix did send the town a box of dusty medical textbooks printed in German.

At least those towns have names--there are also many townships that don't have names at all. The picture above shows the sign for Township E. Not surprisingly, it is bordered by Township D.

Corn Chowder

There is nothing that I enjoy more than a bowl of corn chowder in the winter when a cold is flirting with my immune system. My kids grew up on this for comfort food and it was the first recipe that E asked for when he moved away and got married. He and Annie have amended it a bit by adding organic chicken sausage.

Here's my recipe.

Corn Chowder
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
4 cups milk
2 cans of creamed style corn
1 can of whole kernel corn
2 cans of sliced potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Fry bacon until crisp; removed and drain. Pour all but 3 tbsp. of drippings from saucepan. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook and stir until onion is tender. Remove from heat and blend in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in potatoes, corn salt and pepper; heat through. Stir in bacon.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Backkingdom

Another 6 inches in Dixfield. After spending the morning working in the office, I went to lunch at the Front Porch Cafe with my snow-day-off husband just as the snowfall was coming to an end. In the afternoon, the outdoors beckoned and unable to concentrate on witness statements and motion-writing, I headed out to Backkingdom with my snowshoes.

Backkingdom is a large area of woods, hills and ponds between Dixfield and Mexico. The Webb River runs through it and there are a few hunting camps scattered throughout. The many trails are used by cross-country runners and ATV riders during their season and snowmobilers, cross country skiers and snowshoers in theirs. The trails aren't used by anyone in the mud season (except maybe testosterone-powered males who like to get their trucks stuck). E first introduced me to the trails when he was in high school and running cross country, but truth be told he got his truck stuck out there plenty.

It is easy to snowshoe in Backkingdom because the snowmobiles have packed out the trail, but today I veered off the snowmobile route and slogged through the deep drifts. I found the tracks of a ruffed grouse. The little extensions on the sides grow out of the scales of their toes to help them travel over the deep snow--kind of like natural snowshoes. The ruffed grouse like the deep fluffy snow, because they burrow underneath it to stay warm. I would like to see one make his way under the snow. I imagine he would use his powerful wings to help tunnel in deep enough to use the snow as a nice insulating blanket. In the Spring, the males stand on top of a log and beat those powerful wings to make a sound that sounds just like a chainsaw starting up. Whether the sound is to mark his territory or to attract females, I don't know. But I do know, it scared me half to death the first time that I thought I heard a chainsaw starting up while I was walking through an isolated forest thinking I was alone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gypsy Cold Care

There is nothing quite like Traditional Medicinal teas and a good book. Another storm coming in tonight and a cold rattling around in my head.

Cafe Birch

On a snowshoe walk yesterday, I saw a gouge in this white birch tree.

White birch are also known as paper birch because of the way the bark peels off layer by layer. Native Americans hollowed out birch trees to make canoes, so the trees are also known as canoe birch.

Birches grow throughout Maine and moose, deer and snowshoe hares eat the twigs, but this one looks like it was assaulted by something more serious than a twig-eater. I didn't see any scratch marks on the bark, so I don't think it was a bear. Any ideas?

Levels of Consanguinity

Texican with whom I share a grandfather has begun to blog. He is a talented humorist and poet and a great storyteller. The jokes and e-mails that he has sent over the years are Priceless and I'm glad that he found a forum for sharing them with a wider audience. Although our political leanings are as different as our latitudes, I know that I'll be checking Pappy's Balderdash every morning over coffee.

On another branch of the family tree, but this time on my paternal side is Louis. Our level of consanguinity is more complicated but worth a story. In the early part of the last century in a small town in Western Kentucky, a woman named Sheila married a man named Archie. Sheila had a sister named Mary who later married Archie's brother Edward. These two couples bought homes across the street from one another and between the two families raised about a dozen children who were double-first cousins. Louis is the youngest of the progeny of the double-first cousin generation, I am the oldest of the next.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another big snowfall in Maine

Yesterday, Maine got a nice big snow blanket. In Dixfield, we got 8 pretty, fluffy inches to cover up the snow pack that had compressed and hardened during our thaw last week. Areas just to the south and east of us got over a foot.

I think of December snow as setting the stage for the season--for dabbling in winter activities with the anticipation of much winter ahead; but January and February snow is for getting down to business and playing. A is going ice climbing today after school, C's nordic team will be out practicing at Black Mountain and I'm taking my skis to court, so I can hit the trails on my way home.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Child Protection

The areas of my practice from which I get the most satisfaction are the cases involving children. They are usually gut-wrenching, sad stories and it isn't easy to explain why I get satisfaction from the cases. Perhaps it is because before I was a lawyer, I was a teacher and a mother or perhaps it's because I have always believed that no bad situation has to be permanent, that we all have or can find the tools to change our lives. Finding solutions in cases involving children is complex and not unlike untangling five or six skeins of yarn that the kittens have played with for a week before someone comes along to help untangle the skeins. In the case of children, sometimes it is many years before any one shows up to help untangle things. So, that said, Daughter S showed me this video on youtube. It isn't about people, it's about water buffaloes and lions and at least one crocodile. And it turns out alright for those of you who get nervous. But, what I'm going to start expecting out of parents on my caseload is the protective capacity of a water buffalo. A new standard.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

P.S., home misses you already

The girls flew back to D.C. today. For S, her last semester; for M, her second. It's been a mighty nice month for their mom--the house is full of so much energy, dialogue and hilarity when they are around. I'll live off the echoes of their conversations for weeks but right now, the house seems pretty empty and I won't be putting away their things for a few days. The clutter will allow me to pretend they are still nearby until the ache of missing them subsides a bit.

Good-bye, January Thaw

January thaw is such a euphemism--it brings to mind, winter-weary folks treated to a sudden burst of flowers, green grass and nesting songbirds.

It isn't really that way at all, at least up here in the nation's eastern tippy top. The air does get warmer and that is a nice relief but the snow begins to melt during the day and then re-freeze at night and that process continues for the duration of the thaw. Much like spring, the January thaw is not an attractive time, it gets slippery and dangerous and every one's nerves are on edge because much of our winter economy is dependent on skiers and snowmobilers. While we still have plenty of snow up here for those activities, if people in southern New England don't see snow in their backyard they tend to forget that we still have it up here and they put the skis away and move onto other things. Those of us not directly dependent on the snow for our incomes but who love it for personal reasons start to get anxious that our winter may be winding down.

Conditions have improved over the last few days, though. The temperatures this weekend are hovering around freezing making the snow pack solid and actually improving it. After a rough week of canceled ski practices, C was able to take his nordic team to a race yesterday and the conditions were fast and the track was well-set in the woods.

The difficulty will be forgotten about 3:00 tomorrow morning when we start to get another big snow storm. The teacher and the teenager in our house like the starting time of the storm--not enough time to get the roads cleared before the buses need to get out but enough time for the roads to be slippery.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yesterday, there was a pervasive gloom over Dixfield that seemed to affect more than the weather. It was almost as if dementors were "draining the peace, hope and happiness out of the air". For those of us who are solar-powered, it was a rough day. On her wonderful blog, Amity posted her remedy for the day, potato leek soup.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Kind of a gloomy day to match a gloomy mood--here's hoping for sunshine, lollipops and rainbows tomorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Morning sun on the Kennebec

The forecasters are warning that conditions are ripe for ice jams on Maine's great rivers. The deep snow pack, river ice, warm temperatures and expected rain create a perfect scenario.

With the warm temperatures and rain, the run-off from the melting snow pack rapidly raises the river level. The higher level of the water pushes up against the solid river ice causing it to break into big chunks that can get jammed up at bridges or narrow channels.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January Thaw

The 43 degree air temperature and a cameo appearance by bright sunshine made the whole area look like it was being invaded by ghosts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Peace, Love and Bi-Partisanship

I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river,
I've got peace like a river in my soul

Singing children's voices softly played from a cassette recorder as I stepped into a modest trailer home a few days into the New Year. Two children and their grandmother greeted me as they continued removing decorations from their Christmas tree. Their voices in greeting were as soft and gentle as the ones from the recording and it took me back to my childhood and my children's childhood and Sunday School and car rides with a sound track of sweet children's songs. The grandmother had that beautiful, almost translucent look of one who is channeling God directly into the room and the children, for the first time in their lives, were experiencing loving boundaries, a clean home, enough to eat, and security with a relative that was not a parent.

In the United states, 1 out of every 12 children live in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In many families, this is an extreme economic hardship and in others an economic impossibility.

In a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York), federal funding was made available to allow states to institute subsidized kinship guardianships for children who would otherwise be in foster care.

After awhile, I said my good-bye's to the family, because after the guardianship goes into place next week, there will no longer be a need for my visits and as I was opening the door to leave, the oldest child said, "I can't wait until she can keep us". Hoping the tears wouldn't show, I said "Just a few more days." In that moment, I realized how very important permanency is for kids. This child had been with his grandmother for two years, nothing was really going to change for him, except that he would have the knowledge that now he had a forever home.

I've got love like an ocean, I've got love like an ocean
I've got love like an ocean in my soul

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ice Crystals

We discovered hoar frost on top of the ice on the West Branch of the Nezinscot River yesterday. Hoar frost is similar to dew. It forms when the air is super-saturated with moisture and the surface temperature is below freezing. The individual crystals are small and form from a single seed crystal and if left undisturbed can grow into beautiful formations. After several calm, cold nights, these crystals in a protected area of the river and on ice that was about 6 inches thick had time to grow into shapes that looked like ferns, feathers and lace.

Snowshoe Walk on the Christmas Tree Farm


The girls and I took our snow shoes and went to visit the Grands in Sumner. Grandmom put on her snowshoes to join us on our walk through the farm; Granddad, nursing a sore knee, stayed behind to be in charge of the hot chocolate.

We headed out through the Christmas trees. No one had yet been on the four-feet deep snow and it was difficult to break trail. We rotated the lead position and eventually made our way to the cabin and then on to the river. It was a beautiful day--comfortable temperatures and the good company of three generations of strong, adventurous women.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nothing sweeter....


Both 100% natural, Made in Maine and Sweet as can be!


A pretty yellow kitten and delicious Maine Maple Cream.