In the Right Place: Local Fall Color

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In the Right Place: Local Fall Color

This year’s Fall colors were better than average, but might have been even more beautiful if they had been allowed to peak in full. Last night, we had howling winds and driving rain that orphaned many a colorful leaf; the high winds continue today to liberate the leaves and give them wild, final flights. Fortunately, we were out and about Sunday (October 14), a beautiful day during which most of the images below were taken.

One of our first stops, as usual, was the outstanding Maple at the North Sedgwick Baptist Church. This monarch will not be producing much shade when those leaves fall:

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Some Maples still have not turned completely; some wild (abandoned) Apple Trees have lost all their leaves and now look like a jewelry display:

Of course, the best places for diverse and dramatic color locally are in the dark red native Blueberry fields and along their edges:

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The ornamental non-native bushes and grasses planted for their Fall effect also are spectacular, especially Burning Bush and Japanese Silver Grass:

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Along many country roads, there are spots where cars and trucks just stop suddenly as their drivers take time to visually digest a specimen tree in a showcase setting. Here we have a golden Sugar Maple, looking over the shoulders of a magenta Burning Bush, framed by an arch of still-green Oak leaves:

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The beauty can get quite thorny for those who like to get out and into it. Here we have Cotoneaster, Asian Bittersweet, Wild Blackberry leaves (the berries long gone), and Barberry:

Some of the beauty is found in humble field ponds, reflected in ways that would have made Monet say, “Quick, my brushes!”:

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Magical change continues in the garden. The Katsura Tree leaves become banana chips; the Viburnum bushes turn into wine, and the Hydrangea Trees offer cotton candy:

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In the woods, the Cinnamon Fern has been bronzed and is now in the process of sculpting itself into its own memorial, while the Red Maples turn into embers that fly away:

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A very few plants don’t shrivel and disappear in October, including large Montauk (Fall) Daisies and small Asters, which bloom through cold snaps:

Not all of the October beauty is in the month’s bright colors. Fall rains swell our woods streams, which become mossy-banked canals for leafy gondolas:

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(All images taken in Brooklin, Blue Hill, and North Sedgwick, Maine)

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

https://leightons.smugmug.com/US-States/Maine/Out/2018-in-Maine/October-Colors/






Fall

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In the Right Place: Silly

This cute guy is a little more than seven inches long and we’re a bit worried about him (sex assumed).

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He’s been here alone for almost a week, and it’s not usual for small Sandpipers to be alone. He’s also been hunting a quickly-disappearing live food supply along Great Cove’s pebbly shore. He can fly well, but doesn’t seem to be inclined to take a trip south. The days are getting colder, but he doesn’t seem to be getting the message.

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Do you know which Piper he is? We weren’t sure and had to call in one of Brooklin’s black-belt birders, Kim Ridley, for help. If this were a Wheel of Fortune game and the board showed S_ _ _ _ _ D, what letters would you pick? Yes, he’s a Spotted Sandpiper without spots – a silly juvenile in fall plumage.

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Thanks, Kim. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Swamping Out

We had a Witches’ Sky last night, after a rainy day. The sunset afterglow turned from dusky orange to frisky pink with a patch or two of blue.

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We saw a throng of witches practicing close-flight maneuvers in preparation for their show at the end of the month; they were very good – like a formation of migrating geese, even.

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It all was part of a swamping-out process that eventually resulted in a clear, starry night with a crescent moon, followed by today’s beautiful morning. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Out of Control

Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is a silent assassin, albeit a beautiful one. This invasive, non-native killer is forming much of the yellow that we see in our trees now.

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Those trees are its victims; they’re helpless as the Bittersweet squeezes them to death, winding its way like a python up toward the light. Even mighty spruce trees are being victimized.

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The State of Maine has acknowledged that this nuisance is too far-gone to be eradicated; it grows too fast and is propagated too widely by birds that eat its beautiful berries.

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But, the State has listed it as an invasive species that may not be sold or distributed here. There is a native version, aptly named American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), that is environmentally innocuous. But, that’s another story. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Sticky Business

It’s dinner time, but first we look out the window with a bit of anxiety to see if he’s back. He is! We’ve run him off three evenings in a row, but there he is again. We grab the broom and open the door loudly. He looks up and hunkers down into his Buddha pose, waiting to see what we’ll do.  He’s wild, but not fearful; he’s armed, but not aggressive. He’s a dilemma. He apparently thinks he’s our “Spiny Pig,” which is English for “Porcupine.”

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We run at him shouting and waving the broom. He slowly gets on all fours and raises his quilled tail straight into the air – a defensive posture that reminds us not to get close. He turns and walks off in slow, waddling dignity. Perhaps he senses our profound weakness when he sees a broom instead of a rifle.

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Porcupines can do considerable damage to trees and we’re not aware of any benefit that they confer on the world, except perhaps as a delicacy for large weasels. The State of Maine, a tree-conscious place, seems to be without much sympathy for Porcupines. Under our regulations, Porcupines are considered numerous and may be taken by licensed hunters in any way, at any time, in any number, except on Sundays or someone else’s posted property.

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Nonetheless, there is the view that Porcupines were here before property rights and are part of a complex natural system that we humans invaded and don’t fully understand. And, there is this: sometimes they’re cute. But, not often. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Change

Great Cove seemed to be taking a deep breath yesterday. The sailboats and pier floats are now gone, and the winter birds are starting to come back into these protected waters.

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We sighted three Loons and seven Common Eiders arriving to join the resident Gulls and Crows. There will be many more winged visitors when the word gets out that the Cove has gone wild again.

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On the shore, the mooring gear for the WoodenBoat School’s fleet has been returned to its sylvan hideout, where it has become a crop of rope and chain vines and plastic fallen fruit.

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Rest in Peace

It’s been a soft, slow Autumn here so far. There’s been no significant freeze, windstorm, or hard-driving rain. Yet. Slow Autumns seem to hold onto some of Summer’s vibrant greens longer and provide fascinating Summer-Fall collages, such as lush little ferns growing out of vibrant green mosses that are the final resting places for the earliest of fallen red maple leaves.

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Nearby, many large Cinnamon Ferns already have turned into bronze, which is their way of saying goodbye. Soft and slow is good.

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Hot Topic

It’s time to cut and split (or order) the Winter wood supply for heating stoves here. Wood stoves were Maine’s principal heating source in the 1950s and they still are a frequent supplementary source.

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There’s been a reported resurgence in firewood and wood pellet use here lately as fuel oil prices fluctuate, more efficient wood stoves come on the market, and environmental concerns heighten.

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As for the environment, Maine government officials report that wood emits carbon dioxide at the rate of just 7 kg/million BTUs, while fuel oil emits 79 kg/million BTUs.

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Carbon dioxide released from the combustion or decay of woody biomass is part of a natural wood replacement cycle that does not increase the amount of carbon in circulation, while that from fossil fuels does, according to Dr. Robert Rice of the University of Maine. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Irresistibility

These images were taken yesterday, when curiosity made us follow an old deer path that was new to us. We ducked and weaved through brambles and bittersweet-strewn shrubs and trees. Then, we suddenly were under the lichen-laced limbs of several “wild” (long-abandoned) apple trees that must have been more than 100 years old.

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Many of the apples were nearly perfect and most were still tightly-screwed onto their gnarled branches. There were ground signs of deer and raccoon or coyote. This almost inaccessible apple tree temple is on posted (no hunting) land, which contributed to a sense that we were standing where no human had stood in many decades.

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We wrested an apple away from its mother tree and took a bite. Maybe it was the solitary time and place and the chilly, woods-scented air, but that apple’s extraordinary deliciousness evoked childhood imaginings of Adam confronting irresistibility in paradise. See also the image in the first Comment space. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Interim Report

Peak Fall colors aren’t predicted for Down East Maine until the week of October 15-20. But, they’re on the way, as you can see from this image, taken yesterday, of the magnificent Maple in front of the North Sedgwick Baptist Church.

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The more exotic grasses also are taking on their autumnal gold and silver beauty and can be breathtaking when they form a balletic chorus that sways in the wind. Here’s a stand of Japanese Silver Grass doing that:

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The large blossoms on Hydrangea Trees also are turning that unigue pink-brown hue that they assume just before they drop:

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Flexibility

This is Ray McDonald mowing our sloping North Field in Thursday’s (September 4’s) chilly mist.

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The mower attached to his tractor is commonly called a “Bush Hog®,” a brand name for only one make of rotary field and brush mower. (The company says that, when it first demonstrated its product in 1951, an amazed farmer said: “That thing eats bushes like a hog.”)

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The distinctive feature of these machines is their big, flexible blades; they’re on hinges and bounce away when a rock or stump is hit. Many people here keep non-agricultural fields that are mowed in late summer or fall.

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The annual mowing preserves the summer wild flowers, grasses and sedges that are homes for many animals and insects. Without mowing, the field soon would return to forest and brambles. See also the image in the first Comment space. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Going to the Chapel

Artistic interpretations of the Beth Eden Chapel, including our two images here, are expected to be silent-auctioned on October 7. The proceeds will be for the benefit of that historic site, which has been on Naskeag Road since 1900. The arts and crafts will be at the Chapel from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., where the ancient reed organ will be demonstrated at 2 p.m.

Our images will be 8” x 10” in size and modestly matted and framed. This is “Insight at the Old Chapel”:

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This is “In the Old Chapel”:

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It’s all part of the Annual Brooklin Fall Festival, during which other interesting activities will be taking place at the Brooklin General Store, Leaf & Anna, Brooklin Inn, and Brooklin Candy Co. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Fan


Great Blue Herons are in decline here, but a good number of them are around. They seem to be staying longer each year as temperatures rise.

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The one shown here was doing her fan dance and hunting in Patten Bay yesterday.

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If this year is like the last few, virtually all the Great Blues will have left here by the end of October.

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A few demented ones will over-winter, doomed to continually searching for fish-containing wading water that is not iced-in. They sometimes are seen on our Christmas bird counts. By mid-March, many migrating Great Blues are back. (Surry, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Two Scents Worth

This Gertrude Jekyll Rose bud is smiling in the cold rain yesterday. If there’s a freeze, it may be our last rose; if not, other buds will follow for a while.

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It’s a climbing heirloom flower that has the soul-satisfying fragrance of pre-preservative roses. It’s also as hardy as a Moose.

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For those who skipped horticulture in school, Gertrude Jekyll was a renowned English horticulturist, garden designer, writer, photographer, and fine artist. She created over 400 major gardens before dying at the age of 89 in 1932. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Eat or Wipe

Here’s a little mushroom that has two of the strangest, most divergent common names in Fungiland.

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It’s called a “Plums and Custard Mushroom” in England, apparently because it looks like that dessert. It’s called a “Variegated Mop Mushroom” in the United States, apparently because it’s genus is TricholoMOPsis. (Capitals added; two other mushrooms in that genus are also called “Mops” in the U.S.) In all places, mycologists call this dessert species by its scientific name, Tricholomopsis rutilans.

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It almost always appears on dead coniferous wood, which it helps to decay.

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Our thanks go to David Porter, the Maine Mushroom Maven, for identifying this little fellow. (Brooklin, Maine)

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September Postcards From Maine

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September Postcards From Maine

September is Summer in old age; it’s a time for slowly letting go of a sweet romance and for preparing for a dramatic encounter with nature. The temperatures decline faster than the water, causing sudden fog eruptions in which islands are swallowed whole. The woods are darker as the sunlight weakens and can’t fully penetrate the still-full-leafed canopy. There’s more rain to revive the summer-dry wood streams into musical whirls. But, the fields can’t be revived into their summer greens; they get browner and browner, flaked with the whites of Queen Anne’s Lace and Daisy Fleabane. Nonetheless, the sunsets do get more colorful and will continue to do so through the Winter as the sun appears increasingly lower and colder clouds coalesce.

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September also is when the passengers on visiting schooners come dressed in jackets, sweaters, and long pants, instead of tee-shirts and shorts. But Summer dies hard in some of these tourists. On a late September morning of 49-degrees and a 13-mile-per-hour breeze, one decided to go for a swim in the cold waters of Great Cove.

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This September, we also had an Osprey that didn’t want to let go of Summer here and make that long trip south. We also have shy resident Piliated Woodpeckers that will be going nowhere, but will be easier to see when the leaves are down. Among the many special migrating birds that give their last performances in September are the male Wood Ducks that finish their Summer molt and regain their outrageous appearance here, the Greater Yellowlegs Sandpipers that fly low and away as sillouhettes, and the occasional Bonaparte’s Gull that appears briefly like a white spirit.

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For some here, “another day at the office” in September can mean a time of chilly winds and sea spray. It also can mean getting ferrying boats ready for work on the September waters.

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As for the pleasure craft, September is a time when many will take their last lazy sail of the year to feel the harmonies of wind and water and sun. It’s also the time when many of us look poignantly at a troupe of pulling boats doing their last coordinated dance of the year. It’s the time when many of the summer craft are herded gently from the water and put into a dark place where they’ll sleep until June.

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The last of the Wild Blackberries is pulled and eaten in September, when multitudes of mixed bouquets of Goldenrod and Asters appear along the roads and in the fields and Sweet Pea vines are turned gold by the early sun.

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September also is when we see the last of some of Summer’s fauna delights. We haven’t seen a Painted Turtle or a Twelve-Spotted Skimmer in our pond for about two weeks, although a few Fall dragonflies remain. We do see White-Tailed Deer in our fields, if we look closely; they’re growing into their gray Winter coats, which is good camouflage in the darkening grasses.

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Finally, late September is when the Harvest Moon comes to us. It rises early over Blue Hill Bay while the sky is still blue and sails out over Eggemoggin Reach and the sea.

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(All images taken in September 2018 in Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Tidbits

The sailboats are leaving Great Cove, but the fishing vessels are still coming to tend to their lobster traps. Here we have Rae Baby in the Cove on a recent gray and misty day.

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As usual, the opportunistic Herring Gulls swarm the boat looking for a tidbit of non-lobster "by-catch" as traps are hauled, cleared, and dropped back. The Gulls also race after the boat as she goes to another trap.

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Ironically, one of the many reasons that Herring Gull populations are in decline is that commercial fishing of all sorts has become more efficient, which means less waste thrown to the birds.

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Vestige

Other plants are fading fast, but Montauk Daisy buds are popping open steadily, as you can see from this image taken yesterday:

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Soon, they’ll be blooming in profusion and become our only vestige of summer in fall. Here’s an image of the Daisys in front of Switchback Grass in Barbara’s garden from October of last year:

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These garden daisies also are named Nippon Daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) because they originated in Japan. They were popularized in the United States in Montauk, Long Island (New York). The hearty Montauk plants are rabbit-proof, deer-resistant, and can withstand salty soil, stiff sea winds, and Maine winters. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Nutty News

There’s been an unprecedented surge in the Red and Gray Squirrel populations in New England this summer and fall, according to the September 25 edition pf the Boston Globe. Here’s one of our a locale Reds eating a conifer cone recently:

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That population surge, unfortunately, translates into a record number of squirrel road kills. A Maine Wildlife Department official is quoted as receiving a report of 320 dead squirrels being counted one morning between Freeport and Bangor on the Maine Turnpike. A New Hampshire resident also was quoted as counting at least 100 squirrel carcasses along a short stretch of Route 125. Here’s a Gray that has survived so far:

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It’s believed that last year’s extraordinarily large acorn crop in New England is the cause of the squirrel surge this year. There also has been a bountiful conifer cone crop. (Brooklin, Maine)

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In the Right Place: Gently

This is Fiona earlier this week. She’s one of the delightful summer residents of Great Cove and a favorite of many Cat Boat sailing students at the WoodenBoat School.

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But, it’s no longer summer and student sailing is over. Within an hour of this image being taken, WBS staff had approached Fiona as you would a friendly pony, put a rope on her, and led her ashore.

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She went gently up the ramp on a trailer to her storage area, where she’ll sleep until June.

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Other boats are being pulled out daily. Soon, there will be no sailboats in the Cove and the wonders of summer will be a vague memory.

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(Brooklin, Maine)

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