In the Right Place: Yesterday's Storm


In the Right Place: Yesterday's Storm

Yesterday's snow storm was the fluffy fat flake kind that dares you to come out and play. 

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We did come back for lunch and a warm-up.

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But, mostly, we roamed around on foot and in the car.

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At Naskeag Harbor and along Back Road:

The Brooklin Cemetery with its Camperdown Elm:

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The Brooklin Inn and Town Office:

"The Red House" on Back Road:

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The General Store and Library:

On Naskeag and Back Roads:

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As dawn breaks today, one of Jerry Gray's crew comes to plow us out; soon, the sun finds our North Field and Great Cove:

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(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Freezing

Here, the Queen of our White-Tailed Deer neighbors emerges into yesterday’s late sun from one of her favorite woods trails. She freezes when she notices a strange shape hunkered down behind a rock.


Her yearling fawn, which follows her everywhere, also freezes. 


We get off another "shot" of the Queen as she steps forward for a better look. Then, they wheel about, flash danger with their white flags, and disappear into the woods.


The number of deer that visit us during the day varies from two to about 10 animals at a time, all of which usually are does and fawns. (This month, we’ve seen only one buck, travelling alone.) When the Queen is visiting, the other deer appear to rely on her to give the get-the-hell-out-of-here bleat. White-Tails don’t range much: they usually stay in a territory of less than one square mile and have repetitive patterns. We’ve gotten to recognize individuals and anticipate some of their movements. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Targets

We’re seeing a few tough Mourning Doves that decided not to migrate south. These birds are the most abundant game birds in North America. They’re hunted in 42 states, but not in most of New England, where only Rhode Island has a Mourning Dove season.


These birds are not easy targets: they can reach flight speeds of 55 miles per hour. Reported annual hunting harvests range from 20 to 70 million birds. Yet, the birds’ conservation status is of “Least Concern.” They eat primarily seeds and grains, with an occasional snail for an appetizer. Their cooing was once thought (incorrectly) to be a rain predictor, so they’re called “Rain Doves” in some areas.


Mourning Doves are one of the few birds capable of “sonation”: making a unique sound with a body part other than their voice – they can use their wings to make a whistling notice when taking off and landing. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Meaning

Last week’s January thaw has melted the snow where the sun reaches, but the current cold snap has strengthened and increased the ice on field ponds. The word “pond” is a variant of the archaic word for a confining enclosure: “pound.”


Some states differentiate ponds from lakes by specified size limitations. Not Maine; we have “ponds” that are bigger than some “lakes” in other states. However, one unofficial definition of a field pond here is a body of water in which sunlight can penetrate to the bottom throughout. Many ponds here – including the one shown above – are man-made, mostly to enclose fish and attract other wildlife. Some ponds are simply the result of water runoff that creates a marsh, such as this one:


Ponds also may be used to water livestock and as secondary sources for fire equipment, there usually being no fire hydrant handy. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Thawing

This is late yesterday morning on the Naskeag Point sandbar, just as the January thaw is getting a little nasty. The snow is virtually gone, thanks to early morning temperatures that peaked at 55 degrees (F); but, the mercury is now plummeting, beginning a journey to 13 degrees for yesterday’s low. The wind here is gusting up to 32 miles per hour and the drizzle almost stings.


A neighbor and her staunch terrier appear to find all this exhilarating. We certainly do. Maybe you have to be a little different to winter here. (Brooklin, Maine) Way to go, Pats!



In the Right Place: Ode to a Maineian Urn

We’ve decided that the grace of ancient-looking urns is best appreciated in Maine snow, not Mediterranean sun -- especially when the urns are designed and hand-made here.


Above is an image of one of many magnificent winter-proof (concrete and steel) garden urns by Phid Lawless, Dan Farrenkoph, and their crew at world-renowned Lunaform LLC, up the road a piece in Sullivan.

Here's another urn that is spending its winter vacation here:


Finally, here's a winterized Lunaform bird bath:


(Brooklin, Maine) Go Pats!



In the Right Place: Weeping

There’s a mystery in the Brooklin Cemetery. A semi-rare Camperdown Elm is the centerpiece there. Its branches writhe over the grave of Brooklin’s Rodney S. Blake, a crew member who drowned when the paddlewheel steamer Portland sunk in 1898 and all aboard perished. Here's an image of the tree taken last week:



This human-engineered weeping elm, which appears to be over 100 years old, had to be put in the Cemetery deliberately – Camperdowns can’t be grown from seed; they’re “cultivars” created by grafting. But, no record of any planting or grafting of this tree has been found. Materials in the well-regarded Brooklin Keeping Society show that research into the tree’s origins was unsuccessful; Blake's granddaughter is quoted there as saying that no family lore about the tree exists.

During the summer, the Camperdown weeps lush leaves over the leaning gravestones:

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While the history of our tree is not clear, the history of the Camperdown Elm species is. About 1837, David Taylor, the chief forester on the Earl of Camperdown’s estate in Dundee, Scotland, discovered a young mutant Wych Elm in the forest. The tree had an interesting weeping and contorted shape and was replanted as a feature on the Earl’s house grounds, where it is today. Taylor grafted a cutting of that “sport” tree to a trunk of a normal Wych Elm, producing a weeping cultivar now known as a Camperdown Elm (Ulmus glaba ‘Camperdownii’).

All subsequent Camperdowns are part of a line of cuttings that started with that original tree. The trees were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. They are perhaps at their most dramatic during snow storms, such as this one in Brooklin:


Curiously, the Brooklin Cemetery's Camperdown seems to be ignored by most tourists. Perhaps this is because visitors from away mostly come to see the nearby gravestones of Brooklin’s most famous couple, author E.B. White (Charlotte's Web, etc.) and his wife, New Yorker Magazine Fiction Editor and author (Onward and Upward in the Garden) Katherine Sergeant White.

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(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Jail Bird

Barred Owls are slightly easier to see during cold winter days because they often emerge from the shadows to soak up sun. Identifying a Barred Owl is easy. They’re the only common owl in Maine with dark eyes. (Barn Owls have dark eyes and occasionally visit southern Maine.)

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All other northeastern owls have bright yellow eyes, including the Great Horned and Short-Eared Owls, both captives, shown below.

Barred Owls get their name from the vertical, jail-like bars on their chests, which are quite different from the horizontal spots on the otherwise similar Spotted Owls of the west. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Tiny Dancer

Ever since November, we’ve been worrying about an undersized, late-born fawn surviving the cold spells and snow storms of the winter here. We saw her and her Mother a few days after Christmas, when she had to do a lot of jumping and springing – balletic at times – to keep up with her mother in the snow. Our primary concern was her ability to outrun coyotes in these conditions. She disappeared then.


So, it was with relief and joy that we spotted her, her mother, and six other White-Tails on Monday (January 8). The image of her above was taken then. She seems spunky; her odds of making it increase each day. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Group Therapy

This is pickup truck country, as shown by this good looking group of trucks congregated at Naskeag Point last week.


We want to use a fancy collective name to describe these trucks, but we can’t think of one. After all, if they were a group of starlings, we could say: “There’s a Murmuration of Starlings!” What’s a memorable collective to describe this group of vehicles? “A Swagger of Trucks?” “A Pride of Pickups?” “A Bumpering of Trucks?” Suggestions welcome. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Your Brooklin Weather Report

Here we have yesterday’s sunset afterglow just before night took control – almost other-worldly. The day’s light is lingering noticeably longer now; this image was taken about 4:20 yesterday afternoon, when it would have been dark prior to the winter solstice.  


And, today, the grip of the seemingly interminable and bitter cold spell seems to have been loosened; it was 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) at 9 a.m. this morning. We had light snow last night, which is supposed to resume later today. All is well. (Brooklin, Maine)



The Right Place: The Pierced Heart Mystery

Hope and love are associated with this Amaryllis.  The hope starts around Thanksgiving, when we buy its bulb in a little plastic flower pot of dirt. We put the pot near a sunny window, keep the bulb moist, and greenery soon sprouts. Early in the new year, as we see here, one of its elegant flowers is looking out the window marveling at the snow as another bows gracefully to us. Hope fulfilled.


Oh yes, the love: that comes from the purported Greek myth about the flower’s origin. Amaryllis, a nymph, loved Alteo the shepherd, who didn’t return her love. She pierced her heart with a golden arrow and drops of her blood spilled on the path she took to plead with Alteo. After 30 days, each drop grew into a beautiful flower, which made Alteo fall in love with Amaryllis.

In actuality, the Amaryllis originated in South Africa and its bulb cultivation began in the early 1700s. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Turning

When walking on a darkened, snow-sprinkling day, it’s always reassuring to turn around and catch a cute, shy house spying on us from behind its lovely landscape – or, at least, to see a familiar sight in a new way.

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(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Bombast

Well, as far as our little piece of heaven on earth goes, yesterday’s “Bomb Cyclone” was a bust. It did have its intriguing snow-blown moments and the tide did flood the town dock at Naskeag Harbor, but we expected more after all that media hype. Maybe it’s because we’ve become a bit blasé about bombogenesis, unlike those to the south who see less of it. Here’s the beginning of the flooding of the dock:

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The red barn on Flye Point ridge became muted, but nicely so:

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Familiar things started to be transformed early:

A very high tide engulfed all of the Naskeag Point sandbar until the Point became a mere nubbin.

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It got darker:

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And darker:

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A black night descended, but this morning the North Field was all light and purity.

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Oh, yes, Jerry Gray's crew had to disturb that beauty a bit so that we can get out of our driveway today and go into Town:

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(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Bombs Away!

The difference between yesterday and today promises to be startling. Sunny yesterday’s reported 29-degree temperature (Fahrenheit) broke the back of a record-long cold spell that never reached 20 degrees.


Small coves and bays – such as Surry’s Patten Bay above and below – had been iced-in for days. Both images were taken yesterday.


As we speak, it's snowing lightly here. This flurry is forecast to turn into a nor’easter blizzard (Winter Storm Grayson) that will sweep in from the sea and swallow us, bringing significant snow accumulation, high winds, coastal flooding, and bitter cold. It’s supposed to be a “Bomb Cyclone” (scientifically, “Bombogenesis” or “Clyclogenesis”) of low pressure and cyclonic (circling) winds. Hang on! (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Seeing the Signs

There’s an old saying that the sight of the first American Robin of the year means that Spring has arrived. Well, if that Robin has a worm in its mouth, maybe; if it’s singing a mating song, probably. But, if that Robin is digging for snow-buried fruit during a seven-degree morning, you might want to repress any impulse to go outside in your Birkenstocks.


Maine and most other states are hosts to some all-year Robins; we also get a few Canadian Robins that take winter vacations here. However, it seems that Robins are ignored by most of us until Spring, when they high-step and drill for food in the grass and sing loudly from trees. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Letting Go

This is last night’s first sunset of the New Year here: The North Field and Great Cove darken as the sun begins to slide behind Deer Isle; it’s reluctant to let go of the tassels on the switchgrass.


(Brooklin, Maine)


December Post Cards From Maine


December Post Cards From Maine

December of 2017 began relatively balmy and then the snow and cold came, transforming moss-lined streams to ice sculptures and fields to fairylands.

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The freezing winds blew across the warmer ocean creating sea smoke from dawn to dusk.

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Celestial events included full and crescent moons sailing over the sea and red sunsets, the sailor's delight.

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Occasional new snow flurries sugared the waterfront.

There was, however, a calamity involving the Matilda Bay, shown immediately below in one of the flurries. A few days after this image was taken, she sank, apparently having been swamped during heavy night winds. That's a heartbreaking event, but our fishing community takes care of its own. In bitter weather, a group of fishermen recovered the Matilda Bay and she was towed to a repair facility. That recovery was a proud moment and is the subject of a special Journal edition earlier in the month.

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In between flurries earlier in the month, the snows would melt and the deer would play. At the time, it was a little early for the red-nosed variety to browse.

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In the end, however, December is a month for celebrating religious and secular holidays. Our neighbor Judith Fuller displays road banners to remind us of that and brighten our days. One of the highlights of the entire year is the December concert of festive music by the Bagaduce Chorale, which performed an excellent program with a large orchestra this year in nearby Blue Hill.

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For larger versions of the above images, as well as many additional images of special moments in this January, click on the link below. (We recommend that your initial viewing be in full-screen mode, which can be achieved by clicking on the Slideshow [>] icon above the featured image in the gallery to which the link will take you.) Here’s the link for more:

(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Expectation

December 30, 2017

Here we see the loneliness of a Maine summer residence in a winter snow flurry. However, when the sun comes out and the sky is blue and the house is reflected in the icy water, the mood changes to one pleasant expectation.


This house is on Harbor Island, one of the islands that shelter our Naskeag Harbor. (Brooklin, Maine)