In the Right Place: Uniqueness

Marsden Hartley’s Maine is at Colby College’s Museum of Art through November 12, 2017, after a successful run in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Breuer galleries.  It’s worth a trip to Waterville, if you’re interested in unique interpretations of Maine and some unusual brush work. Non-flash photography is allowed. This one is Hartley’s Mount Katahdin, Autumn, No. 2 (1939-40):


The Met’s handsome and informative (but expensive) show catalog book also is worth the price or worth waiting in line for at libraries that have it (including Brooklin’s Friend Memorial Library).

Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1877 and died in Ellsworth in 1944. He promoted himself as “The Painter from Maine” to revive his career, which had peaked in Europe, but had to be discontinued because of World War I.  

His moody and abstracted views of Maine in the show run from childish, to stunning, to homo-erotic. Of particular interest to us were his Cézanne-influenced series on Maine’s Mount Katahdin during the seasons.  (Waterville, Maine)



In the Right Place: Taste

Muskrats, such as this neighbor transporting a water lily breakfast, are powerful swimmers with webbed hind feet and side-swishing flattened tails; they even can swim backwards and hold their breath up to 20 minutes.


They once were hunted widely for their soft fur and purported rabbit-like taste. (Our old edition of Joy of Cooking says that, to serve two people, “Skin and remove all fat from hams of 6 muskrats … sauté until golden … [s]erve with Creamed Celery.” It doesn’t mention how to get the muskrats.) Muskrats get their name from the strong scent that they use to mark their territory and their rat-like looks. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Good Endings

Yesterday was a dreary gray thing that drizzled from time to time, but never had the energy to deliver helpful rain or pleasing sun – until late afternoon.


In the afternoon, the lowering sun successfully won several battles with the overcast and broke through here and there. The wind rose and silver light poured obliquely through the clouds, spreading over the surface of Great Cove like fast-moving rivers of diamonds. Sailors dashed for their boats to be an active part of a good sunset.  (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Mum's the Word

Chrysanthemums, the ancient symbols of joy and happiness, are appearing on porches and elsewhere here.


The flowers originated in China, where their leaves are steamed for vegetable dishes; the plant also is used there for a healthy tea. In Japan, the flower is the symbol of the monarchy and appears on Japanese passports. Here, it is one of the first signs that we’re getting the Fall feeling. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Encounters of the Maine Kind

We’re walking beside, and sometimes in, the water’s edge in fog-bound Great Cove. The air is still and the patches of sea that are visible are silvered mirrors. The quiet seems to have slowed time. Suddenly, there’s a whuff-whuff sound above us and we become frighteningly aware that something big and alive is there and closing fast. We instinctively duck.


A first-year Herring Gull strafes us and flies out low over the Cove, the air from each wing beat ruffling its own reflection there. The youngster keeps going and disappears. We can’t see its face, but like to think that it’s smiling. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Last Dinners

Secret snacking is still going on in the remnants of the garden, but not for long. Here, the gourmet tasting a colorful canapé appears to be a Two-Striped Grasshopper or perhaps a Red-Legged Locust.


“Locusts,” of course, actually are grasshoppers of the short-antennae variety. A curious thing about grasshoppers is that they have their ears in their bellies (abdomens). (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Lasting Beauty

The appearance of Alera in Great Cove this week provoked thoughts about the special qualities that create lasting beauty, whether natural, human-made, or a combination of both.


Some lasting beauty is without physical shape (e.g., Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony). Some is two-dimensional (e.g., da Vinci’s Mona Lisa) and some three-dimensional (e.g., Michelangelo’s David). Some three-dimensional beauty is solidly stationary (e.g., Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda) and some combines complex movements and sounds (e.g., Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet).


And then there is Alera. She’s 113 years old. To see her gracefulness in her natural element – beating into the wind; her canvas and rigging humming; her bow wave hissing – is to see a performance by a thing of lasting beauty that was created by a genius.


She was designed by Nathanael (Nat) Greene Herreshoff, the Michelangelo of sailboat naval architects. Alera, launched in 1904, was the first of his famous New York Yacht Club 30-foot racers, hence the “NY1” proudly displayed on her sail. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Rigt Place: Regaining Magnificence

We “shot” this male Wood Duck yesterday as part of our attempt to monitor and catalog the progress and reversal of these birds’ summer molt (their “eclipse phase”). This male has got a long way to go to regrow his prime plumage.


He and his red-eyed colleagues should be back to magnificent in October, when Wood Ducks usually decide whether to migrate south. But now they're in various stages of recovery from the molt, as can be seen in this mage, also taken yesterday at the same marsh pond:


We haven't seen any females close enough to photograph, even with a big lens; they seem embarrassed to be in such a dreary state compared to their normal beauty. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Ancient Rituals

We had what appears to have been a Mayfly hatching swarm near our pond last week. These primitive insects have been behaving this way since before there were dinosaurs. There are thousands of species of Mayflies, but only a few hatch in May or other Spring months.


When Mayflies do hatch and swarm, the newly-formed adults arise, mate, lay eggs in the water, and die – all within hours. These adults don’t eat anything (they don’t even have functional mouths). Their presence is a good sign: their eggs and resulting larvae live (sometimes years) on algae and only in non-polluted water, where they are part of the food chain. (Brooklin, Maine)


The Annual Windjammer Sail-In


The Annual Windjammer Sail-In

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The images below were taken in Great Cove yesterday afternoon and at dawn this morning. We’re covering the 31st annual WoodenBoat Windjammer Sail-In that started yesterday and ended today.

Most of the images were taken from a chase boat used by the students in the WoodenBoat School’s excellent Marine Photography course, taught by Jon Strout and Jane Peterson. Thank you Jon, Jane, Rich Hilsinger, Greg Bauer, and WBS for allowing me to tag along with the talented students.

Historically, the first windjammer into the Cove is the Queen of the Maine Fleet, Victory Chimes, shown to the left. She was launched in 1900.

Here’s Mary Day (1962) and Stephen Taber (1871) making the turn into Great Cove:

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Angelique (1980) is known for her red (tanbark) sails and high fantail:

The Lewis R. French (1871) is tied for oldest schooner in the fleet:

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American Eagle (1930) was a depression era vessel:

The Heritage (1983), on the other hand, was built relatively recently:

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Most of the windjammers don’t hook up to a mooring; they drop very heavy anchors with quite a splash.

Passengers on these boats are encouraged to participate in basic crew work.

After the windjammers are moored, their passengers and crews come ashore for mussels and music, the former being steamed onsite and the latter being performed by the often steamy Flash in the Pans.

Windjammers are beautiful under full sail, but there’s something special about seeing them in their element at sunrise, without sails.

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By about 7 a.m. today, the sun was up fairly high and Great Cove had started to awaken.

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For larger versions of the above images, as well as many additional images of the Sail-In, 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:



In the Right Place: Being Green

We still have Northern Green Frogs lazing in the sun on lily pads; soon, both will be pleasant memories.


Northern Greens are distinguishable from other small green frogs by their hunched “shoulders,” a characteristic that they share with the much larger Bull Frogs. In fact, Northern Greens, which range from about 2 to 3.5 inches, could be remembered as miniature Bull Frogs, which can grow to about 6 inches. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Good Beginnings

Friday, September 8, at almost 6:30 a.m.:


The harvest moon, still mostly full, sails away to the northwest; the sun, low in the east, finds Great Cove, Babson Island, and Eggemoggin Reach beyond; the North Field waits for the approaching light to chase away the remnants of morning fog.


(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Quick Change Artist

This Monarch Caterpillar was munching on milkweed Friday (September 8) when sharp-eyed neighbor Sherry Streeter pointed it out to us. It and its larval siblings recently emerged from eggs attached to that plant by a female Monarch Butterfly that probably is now dead.


This Caterpillar soon will pull a hooded chrysalis over itself, do a quick-change trick while hidden in there, and emerge to fly to Mexico as one of the most beautiful butterflies. Here's an adult Monarch gracing a Zinnia a few days ago:


Monarchs produce four generations here during the warm months, three of which die after a short life. The fourth generation butterflies, born in September or October, are the ones that migrate south to start the cycle again. The good news about this threatened species: we’ve seen more Monarchs here this summer than in the past three years. (Brooklin, Maine)


In the Right Place: Where East Meets West


In the Right Place: Where East Meets West

We’re in the famous Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in nearby Seal Harbor. It was created between 1926 and 1930 by Abby and the renowned garden designer Beatrix Farrand. The Garden is now privately owned by the Rockefeller family.

Much of the Garden is surrounded by a Chinese tile-topped wall that contains various gates, which offer tantalizing peeks of the flowers and Rockefeller collection of Chinese and Korean statuary. The most famous portal is The Moongate through which can be seen a 17th Century Buddha Sakyamuni.

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Within and outside the wall are meticulously cared-for quiet areas for contemplation by people and hummingbirds.

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The central courtyard contains a rectangular stone wall and paths that are profusely planted with flowering specimens in the fashion of an English border garden.

The Garden is at its flowering peak in early August, but still has much to say for itself in September.

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For larger versions of the above images, as well as additional images of the Garden, 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:



In the Right Place: Encounters

Most of our dragonflies are gone, but some of the small Meadowhawk Dragonflies remain active. These dragonflies often appear as the first red (and sometimes golden) flecks of Fall. But, those who want to learn more about the many Meadowhawks often find it impossible to see the small differences among them in our brief encounters with the little aerobatic experts.


The dragonfly here looked to be about one inch long during the several seconds that we met. It is – we think – either a Cherry-Faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum) or a Ruby Meadowhawk (S. rubicundulum). (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Disappearance

Angelique is leaving Great Cove yesterday morning. She heads into the fog bank over Eggemoggin Reach and soon becomes a memory. However, she’s a 130-foot topsail ketch that is easy to remember.


Angelique is the only windjammer in the Maine fleet with a large overhanging fantail and tanbark-colored sails.


Many years ago, when sails were made of cotton, the sailcloth often was dipped in a vat of tannins extracted from tree bark. This was done to protect the sails against rot; the resulting red-brown color was (and is) called tanbark (although “bark-tan” would seem more apt). (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Perfection

We’re fog-bound as this is being written. We can’t see any of the boats in Great Cove and the woods are masses of interlocking green shadows.  But, right outside our window, we have a little rose bush with a loving personality.


Since July, it has been giving us morning smiles in the form of perfect yellow-pink blossoms. They go well with fog and coffee. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: More Seldom-Asked Questions

Why would the sophisticated WoodenBoat School name this small boat “Big”? (It's a Nutshell sail/row boat that is only nine-and-one-half-feet long.)


Well, apparently the name was not chosen to be ironic. This boat is one of a pair of WBS Nutshells; the other one is only seven-and-one-half feet long and it’s named “Little.” (Perhaps the names were chosen to help those who have trouble seeing a two-foot difference when the vessels are afloat.)

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Here's Little on the left and Big on the right:

(Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Goodbyes

This is the time that we don’t want to let go of Summer, but are very much looking forward to Fall. Some days, the sea breeze contains a thin layer of chill worthy of October; other days, it’s as warm as August.


Leaves remain on the trees, but they’re losing their softness and starting to murmur rasping complaints when the wind ruffles them. The green grasses and colorful wild flowers in the fallow fields are fading fast and being replaced by their yellow, white, and brown cousins, which soon will fall victim to the mowing tractors. We can feel Summer deciding to leave us. One day this month, we’ll wake up and realize that she’s left without saying goodbye. (Brooklin, Maine)



In the Right Place: Fairness

Labor Day Weekend around here means that the annual Blue Hill Country Fair is up and running.

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The popular five-day Fair originated in 1891 and has extensive entertainment choices, as well as a wide range of contests.

The contests include, among others, weight-pulling (horse, oxen, antique tractor), farm animal judging, skillet-tossing, and pie-eating.

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This is the event that inspired the country fair scenes in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. (Brooklin, Maine)