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In the Right Place: Wearing of the Green

Sometimes, the often-described “black and white” Common Loon shows its Irish sympathies. This happens when the feathers on its neck (and sometimes its head) refract the light into a mostly-green iridescence, a trait usually not shown in guide books. As we shall see, the light on a Loon's head and neck often refracts into subtle purples, blues, and a green that is even more pronounced than the Loon's ascot here:

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Sometimes, the iridescence is low-key, but a good contrast to the dark red that the Loon's eyes turn in summer:

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We spent some fascinating time Friday watching this handsome guy fish for Alewives as they migrated through Patten Bay on the way to swim up Patten Stream. Loons actually snorkle:

Here's a better view of his cravat in its green-appearing phase:

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Here's an example of iridesence showing subtle redish and greenish tones, stylistic compliments to its black and white patterned suit:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Sky Dance

Yesterday’s sunset was unusually beautiful for June, even a bit startling  It mostly became a rippling red veil of stratus cloud through which the blue sky tantalizingly revealed itself here and there. This was taken then at about

– a rippling red stratus cloud veil through which the blue sky tantalizingly revealed itself here and there.

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This was taken then at about 8:20 p.m. on Naskeag Point looking west-northwest up Eggemoggin Reach. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Windjammer Watch IV

The Heritage sailed into Great Cove Wednesday afternoon on her five-day “Summer Solstice Cruise.” She left yesterday morning, the beginning of the Solstice. She moored just off the WoodenBoat School pier and made us realize that the beautiful scene had been incomplete until she appeared.

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She looked abandoned yesterday  after most of her passengers rowed themselves ashore to explore the WBS campus and before they returned to the coaster for departure. But it was a good opportunity to study her lines.

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Then, the Heritage raised sails with her 1921 on-deck hoisting engine. (In the old days, this type of engine was called a “H’ister” [hoister] , because it hoisted heavy sails and anchors; or a “One-Lunger,” because it had only one-cylinder, or a “Donkey Engine” because it brayed loudly. Schooners without a hoisting engine were known as “Hand-Pullers.”)

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The wind virtually disappeared ("fushed out," as some here say) when the Heritage was ready to go -- and she has no internal motor. Not to worry: this 145-foot coasting schooner has a powerful yawl boat that pushes her in such situations, as the yawl boats of the commercial cargo coasters did in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Nonetheless, the Heritage is advertised as "the newest" of the Down East coast schooners. She was launched in 1983 in Rockland, Maine, where she was built and still hails from. Below, we see her departing Great Cove yesterday to continue her Summer Solstice cruise under bright sun.

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All of her cruises are not under sunny skies, of course. We’ll leave you with one of our favorite images of the Heritage slipping into the Cove through a fog mull last summer:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Wolf in Flowered Clothing

Lupines are re peaking here. The colorful swathes of purple, pink, blue, and white that we see waiving in fields and along roadsides are Common Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus).

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How they got introduced here remains a mystery, unless you believe the children’s tale about Miss Rumphius sowing Lupine seeds everywhere.

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The native wild variety (Lupinus perennis L.) apparently has been extirpated or is extremely rare here. There also are engineered hybrid Lupines for the garden, including blood red ones: 

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The name of these plants is pronounced “LOU-pin” and it derives from the Latin word for wolf (lupus): the species can be invasive and detrimental to soil. Nonetheless, they’re a beautiful sight from the road or close-up:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Roosts

One of the more perverse miracles of nature is the evolution of a cute Wild Turkey youngster (poult) into one of the wild’s ugliest birds.

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Nonetheless, countless numbers of these cuties are merrily following their chortling and hissing mothers around here now, learning how to catch insects.

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This is the time that the mothers (hens) roost with their poults on the ground and defend them from predators there, while the males and non-breeding females (Toms and younger Jakes and Jennies) continue to roost in trees. Sometimes, while tromping in tall grass, a hen will pop up and hiss and, as we give her a wide berth, we have to imagine her unseen poults gathering around her.

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The poults start flying at about four weeks after hatching, and then the whole clan roosts in the trees. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Icon

Sunday morning (June 17) we discovered -- with an involuntary “Ahhh” – that the Belford Gray was back at a WoodenBoat School mooring in Great Cove, her boom and sails yet to be deployed: 

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There she rides: low like a loon, with her sharp Clipper bow, breath-taking sheer, and overhanging transom – all on a sturdy working body that looks eager to do things. Here she was yesterday afternoon as a storm was brewing:

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She’s a Friendship Sloop, the iconic Maine working boat of the late 19th– early 20th Century. These highly maneuverable fishing sloops were conceived and built in Maine’s Friendship (Muscongus Bay) area and then evolved by wooden boat builders along the entire coast. (All images below taken in prior summers.)

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Friendships are beautiful lying low in a fog or winged out, gasping for air:

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The Belford Gray, now a WBS sailing classroom, is exceptional, even among her exceptional family of vessels.  Her design is based on the class’s original design by Maine boatbuilder Wilbur Morris. Basic plans for such a design were found by WBS founder Jon Wilson in a 1907 publication. He gave them to famed Brooklin naval architect Joel White to refine and create construction drawings.

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These plans were then used by WBS instructor Gordon Swift and his students over six summers of classes to construct the Belford Gray, which was launched in 1992. She was named in honor of another WBS instructor who was a highly respected local wooden boat builder.

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The basic proportions of Friendship Sloops generally call for a vessel that has a width (beam) that is about one-third its length and a draft (underwater depth) that is about one-half the width. The Belford Gray’s numbers reflect that proportionality. She’s 28 feet and 6 inches long overall, 9 feet and 6 inches wide, with a draft of 5 feet and 4 inches. She's small, as many Friendships were; a good solo sailor/fisherman could handle her.

(Brooklin Maine)

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In the Right Place: Breaking Fake News!

We think that we’ve found confirmation of a secret trade deal. Yes, the U.S. apparently has bought an enormous supply of camouflaged North Korean military tents that are now being sold very cheaply to campers and hunters here.

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To be sure, the tents do have a slight defect: they’re radioactive and glow, which can overwhelm the camouflage and make sleeping in the woods difficult. However, buyers are being urged to think positively – radioactivity is an excellent bear and insect repellent and the tents contain a handy arrow that indicates where to look for North Korean missiles. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Whizzing

Dragonflies have long been loved in Eastern cultures, but that wasn’t the case in early Western cultures. These mysterious insects often were associated with myths about the devil, including the devil turning St. George’s horse into a giant flying insect after George slayed the dragon. Their English name reportedly is derived from the Romanian “drac,” meaning both devil and dragon. Although we like Dragonflies, we do admit that we often have a devil of a time trying to photograph and identify these whizzing jewels, two of which we “caught” at our Pond yesterday and feature today.

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Our best guess as to the wide-eyed one above is that it is an American Emerald (Cordulia shurtleffii), part of the Green-Eyed Skimmer family.  It never rested for a stationary image.

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The slick metallic one above did rest, as we see. This, we think, is a female Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax Bernice). She flew away with amazing speed:

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There came a time when both of these Dragonflies were in the same frame and a focusing choice had to be made:

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Accurate identifications are not always possible in Dragonfly hunts, at least for us, but the game can be an enjoyable challenge.  (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Visitors

When it comes to Bears, we only have the Black variety in Maine, but we have more of them than does any of the other lower 48 states. This hefty fellow visited us Thursday evening (June 14) and we ran him off with a yell.

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According to Maine Wildlife officials, Black Bears virtually never attack out of aggression or for protection of cubs. Apparently, the few confrontations there are usually relate to very hungry bears, food, and panic by both bear and human. (Don’t store food in your camping tent!)

The wildlife officials say that slowly backing away and/or making a commotion (e.g., yelling and waiving arms) is the best way to treat a nearby bear. If a Bear does attack, they advise that you yell, kick, and hit it with something; don’t run. (Easy for them to say.)

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Black Bears are larger in the Northeast than in the Southeast and West. Our adult males (“Boars”) typically range from about 125 to 550 pounds, depending on age; our females (“Sows”) usually get to around 175 pounds, according to reports. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Bustin' Out All Over

The evergreen Rhododendron plants are finally awakening around here.

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Their grenade-like buds are exploding all over the place and adding brilliant flashes amid the lush, early-summer greenery.

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Although not natives, these Asian plants thrive here and are the subject of considerable study as climate change affects flora. However, we’re trying not to imagine the experiments that led to the discovery that the honey from the nectar of some Rhododendrons is simultaneously an hallucinogen and a laxative.

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Maine’s only native member of the Rhododendron genus is the deciduous Rhodora bog azalea. (All azaleas are Rhododendrons.) Here's a Rhodora blossoming:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Glory

Today is a day to remember one of our most important symbols and perhaps to reflect on what it now means to us and the rest of the world. It’s National Flag Day, the 241st anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

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The image above seems to us to be especially timely. It’s of the mast atop the WoodenBoat School Boathouse on which Old Glory, the Flag of Canada, and the WoodenBoat Burgee were flying two days ago in a 12-knot breeze coming off Great Cove. Maine shares more border with Canada than it does with the rest of the U.S. We suspect that most Mainers have no problem with that. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Bright Morning

Great Cove is starting to get some interesting summer visitors, including Shanti out of Rockport, Maine, shown here getting ready to sail.

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She’s a 42-foot 1973 Alden yawl that’s a bit unusual – graceful, almost historic lines with unique features.

For one thing, she’s a wooden boat, which apparently was uncommon for the Alden naval architects by 1973; yet, she has aluminum masts and spars.

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Her cabin, including a stepped-up “dog house,” has a bright lacquer finish (natural lacquered wood) that contrasts with her white hull.

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She sneaked into the Cove sometime late on June 11 and we caught her the next morning departing into a hazy Eggemoggin Reach under a fair wind.

(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Wake Up

Song Sparrows are common, small, and look like all other sparrows to those who don’t have the opportunity or inclination to focus on little brown blurs.

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However, Song Sparrows offer us wonderful spring and summer gifts in the form of their melodious, yet thrillingly complex, arias – especially as wakeup calls that start a beautiful morning.

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Song Sparrows reportedly can sing about 20 distinct songs during which they can do thousands of improvisations of each theme.

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And, by the way, many of us who do focus on them think that they’re cute blurs. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Asticou Azalea Garden

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In the Right Place: Asticou Azalea Garden

June is the time to visit the renowned Asticou Azalea Garden, a serene blending of Down East Maine landscape with finishing touches of ancient Japanese gardening.

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On June 10, when these images were taken, many of the famous Azaleas were in full bloom and the Rhododendrons buds were about to explode.

The Garden is located in Northeast Harbor in an area of amazing waters that the Native Americans called “asticou,” a boiling kettle.

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The Garden was conceived by Charles Savage in the 1950s, primarily as an area to relocate many of the exquisite azaleas and trees in the nearby Bar Harbor garden of Beatrix Farrand, the pioneer American landscape architect.

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Ms. Farrand famously asked: “Should it not be remembered that in setting a garden we are painting a picture?”

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With financial help from John D. Rockefeller, the Asticou Azalea Garden was completed in 1957. It’s now a popular attraction to garden lovers worldwide.

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The primary focal point of the Garden is Asticou Pond, which is surrounded by a landscape that evolves throughout the gardening year -- from flowering cherry trees in May to blazing fall leaves in October.

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(Northeast Harbor, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Luck

Here we have a gray cat on a gray pier during a gray morning last week. But, this is not just any cat. This is the acclaimed Jethro, Harbor Cat Supreme, who runs part of the WoodenBoat School.

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Jethro's just finished supervising some rigging repairs on a 12 & ½ tied to the float at the end of the School’s pier. (See below.) His calmness shows that he considers the job well done.

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When he’s not supervising things, Jethro often gives the WBS sailing students encouragement before they depart and congratulations when they return. It’s well known to sailors around here that giving Jethro a tummy rub is good luck. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Needy

Lady’s Slippers are our mysterious native orchids.

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These plants have two unusual needs. First, they must trap and seduce bees and other pollinators to reproduce. Pollinators are enticed to enter a slit in the flower’s sweet-smelling pouch, which closes on them. To get out, they have to squeeze through hairs and pollinate the flower’s stigma with pollen from their visits to other flowers.

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Second, Lady’s Slippers depend on threads of a fungus (Rhizoctonia genus) to open and pass on food to their seeds.

Locally, we’ve seen only the pink variety of Slippers, but the rare white variety may be seen at the nearby Orono Bog, which is where this image was taken:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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Rest in Peace, Digby

In many small towns, there’s a dog that virtually everyone knows or recognizes. Ours was Digby, shown below, who died in an accident a few days ago. He was a mixture of Bernese and Great Pyrenees Mountain Dogs who was born in Colorado and “airmailed” to Maine as a puppy.

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Digby was the Town greeter, usually lying on his owners’ open porch or a pile of snow about 30 feet from the main road into Brooklin. He often was the first living personality that we’d see as we came into Town, especially in the winter, when he loved being outside. We still instinctively look for him there as we round the bend.

We’re told that another B-P puppy is being airmailed here from Digby’s breeders in Colorado. Its name will be Torrey, the name of islands just off our coast that Digby loved to visit. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Windjammer Watch III

The American Eagle sneaked into Great Cove without us noticing on the evening of June 30, her first night of a four-night cruise. Early the next day, we were pleasantly surprised to see her anchored offshore of the WoodenBoat School.

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When the wind freshened later in the morning , the American Eagle hoisted sail and departed to the Southwest on her advertised Wildlife Tour in which Bald Eagles and Harbor Seal sightings often are highlights:

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This 90-foot schooner is a National Historic Landmark out of Rockland, Maine. She was launched in 1930 as the Andrew & Rosalie, the last fishing schooner built in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In 1941, during World War II, she was renamed American Eagle.

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She fished until 1983 and then went through difficult times until she was totally renovated in 1986 as a sleek tourist schooner.

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Appetizers

We have too many blessings to count, but we do count some worries – and this little Mallard is one of five of them. He (assumption as to sex), his attentive Mom, and his four siblings have been safely convoying a local marsh pond for at least 10 days.

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All are quick to dart into the cattails at the slightest disturbance. Credit, as usual, goes to Mom; she must be ever-diligent and her babes must be well-trained. A young animal’s life often depends on its unthinking and immediate response to parental commands – Silence! Scatter! Hide! Come!

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Their pond has no snapping turtles, as far as we know. However, we do have Ospreys and Bald Eagles – neighbors that appear to think that puffy duckling is the perfect hors d'oeuvre to have before a fish dinner.  (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Spring Sermons

There were a lot of preachers in our dry woods Sunday – and all of them not only were named Jack, each seemed to be praying for rain. Graceful Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants are popping up all over the boggier parts of the forest, with their spadices (“Jacks”) standing tall in their spathes (“Pulpits”).

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The plants are lovely, but dangerous: their leaves are significant irritants to humans and can be toxic to horses, dogs, and cats. Nonetheless, Native Americans used the plants’ roots to treat rheumatism and snake bites.

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Oh, didn’t we tell you? It rained hard Monday (yesterday) and is still doing so as we speak. (Brooklin, Maine) Go Caps!

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