The arrival of January is a time for happiness and hope, as neighbor Judith Fuller’s Naskeag Road banner reminded us this year.
January, on average, is Maine’s coldest and snowiest month. Not this year, however. January 2019 was warmer than average here, according to current and historical data from nearby Bar Harbor. And, it appeared that we got less snow.
Nonetheless, January 2019 was picturesque. We had several fluffy snowstorms that quilted the woods trails; it was cold enough to freeze our small streams and wet enough to make our larger, fish-migrating streams roar. The ponds froze solid and sometimes attracted winter sports fans.
The January snows, as usual, enhanced our way of seeing everyday sights, whether peering through atomized whiteness or squinting over sunny fields that made the sea seem bluer:
The relatively mild snows didn’t phase the White-Tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys, our most common wildlife; they seemed to show up on time and keep to their daily schedules:
As usual, a large “paddling” of Common Eiders wintered at nearby Blue Hill Falls, where the current prevents the water from freezing. The bronze females seemed to outnumber the white and black males this year and a not-so-common male Hooded Merganser sailed by the Eiders one day to show that they weren’t the only fashionable birds in town:
Our more mundane, year-round feathered neighbors — Herring Gulls and American Crows —generally sat, flew, and swaggered with aplomb through cold January days:
As usual, the sea had many moods this January. We had some extraordinary high and low tides and racing winds. These elements, when combined with very cold days, are a recipe for sea ice. In its early stages, sea ice has a slushy consistency; it rolls onto the shore like a milk shake. This kind of sea turmoil can bring jewelry-grade sea glass to sandbars and shorelines, where cold-resistant collectors search for good pieces.
Many of the lobster boats in this area came ashore for winter storage in November. But, some stayed in the water and had a winter metamorphosis — they sprouted wings in the form of booms and masts that converted them into trawlers that dredged for Atlantic Scallops.
Finally, January days often say goodbye in the most extravagant ways, leaving us an ephemeral work of art to remember them by:
(All images taken in January 2019 in Down East Maine.)