Thursday, September 16, 2010

Woodsmoke from Old Cabins - A Fantastic Story About Log Cabins by Edmund Ware Smith

The late writer Edmund Ware Smith is one of our idols. He wrote many stories and books about the northern Maine woods, capturing its mystique perfectly.

We just came across a story he wrote for Sports Illustrated in 1954.

Enjoy, enjoy. This is vintage Edmund. The link is below.

Woodsmoke from Old Cabins

Friday, September 3, 2010

Waiting for Earl

It's been a very dry and warm August up here in northern Maine. We and our very patient houseguests have coped with the hot (90 degree F) days by eating dinner early, cooking meals that require little additional heat, and going out to enjoy the cool evening air on the lake. Yesterday I went swimming twice off a friend's dock, which helped during the afternoon. After supper, the men went fishing and in the process came upon a mother and baby moose. We women watched the sunset from the screened in porch of a neighbor. After dark, a soaking rainstorm passed through, and this morning, a mist is rising over the 'stream' in front of our cabin. In the mist, the loon parents are teaching their baby to call. So far, it's only making airy squeaks, but even those sounds carry over the still water. Tonight, Hurricane Earl will pass by off shore and will hopefully leave lots of rain for us. Meantime, the hummingbirds (females anyway) are still here. Some warblers, migrating south no doubt, are twittering. And groups of Canada geese gather in the stream. We can't wait for the predicted cooler weather to follow Earl.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Best Show of All

Up here in the north woods, the Fourth of July is a homemade celebration. And that makes it quite special. Given good weather, even in bad weather, everyone makes an effort to celebrate. If not for themselves, then for the sake of grandchildren and teenagers visiting from the city. This year it was a vintage Fourth. The weather was perfect - 80F with a temperate breeze from the north that kept the bugs away. The sun was shining, but gave us occasional relief behind beautiful puffy clouds.

On our lake, we have a 'boat parade' at 1PM. Mind you, the boats on our lake are not yachts. They are primarily aluminum fishing boats (aluminum due to the boulders), a few small pontoons, and 'Grand Lakers', a style of fishing boat that looks like a long canoe with a straight stern to hold an outboard motor. Everyone dolls up their boats with flags and streamers, and wears Uncle Sam hats and waves flags as we drive around the lake, counter clockwise in a caravan. A parade needs an audience, so others stay on shore, spraying the paraders with water guns, waving, shouting "Happy Fourth" and cheering. It's all over in 45 minutes and the parade boats disperse. This year we had 21 boats.

After that, everyone visits, and most have some kind of cookout and try their luck at fishing for bass, white perch, and pickerel. As darkness falls, one hears the booms and sees the brilliant color displays of fireworks. But those are unofficial and in some cases, not exactly legal. But there is something uniquely American about the whole day here, where citizens organize themselves to have a good time.

This year the day was special because the boat parade passed by a pair of loons with their new chick.

Then after the parade, when we were sharing a glass of lemonade with folks from a neighboring lake, a friendly yearling moose paid a visit.

Come to think of it, no matter what we humans do, Mother Nature always puts on the best show of all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A pair of eagles floating in a Maine lake!

Just came across this amazing blog entry on the blog about the birds of northern Maine.
Apparently a pair of bald eagles was seen floating in Bottle Lake, and, well, you just have to read it. Great story, and the photographs are fabulous. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes!
Amazing blog posting about a pair of eagles floating in a Maine lake

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Launch of the man-made loon nest

Inspired by the Audobon Society, G. decided to build a loon nest to help the nesting pairs that come to our part of the water each spring. He consulted many websites about design, and went with a simple square version using hemlock logs, some old chicken wire left at an abandoned campsite, an old piece of plywood that he once spray painted with the words 'loon nests' to keep boaters from swamping them in years past, as well as sticks, branches and grassy soil. He also used some pieces of old fire hose to make two little slides so loon chicks can get onto and down from the platform.

This week we launched it, amid a stiff breeze from the south. We tethered one end to a concrete brick, and tied the other to the root of a half-submerged stump. It is visible from our dock, and we hope that within a couple of weeks the grass will grow up around it. Gary also added the feature of sticks as poles in the corners to keep eagles and other raptors from swooping down on the nest. A young nesting pair is in the area, and we've seen them scoping out the grass alongshore near the spot where it's tethered.

Here is a link to an amazing live webcam of a man-made nesting platform in use.  Live loon webcam in central Minnesota

Friday, May 14, 2010

Season's Beginnings

Spring arrives each year in northern Maine for me, with the occurrence of certain events. They seem to cascade all at once. It's like an orchestra gathering on a stage. Gradually, each player arrives, tunes up and warms up, and the sounds get louder and louder until the moment when the conductor raises his baton and the music begins. Well, the music has started up here, at last.

We had our inaugural fishing adventure. We went fly fishing with friends yesterday on a remote rushing river. On our way there, we stopped at a bakery in a small town near the river, in an old victorian home. After loading up on fresh bread, cookies and muffins for later, we made it to the river and picnicked on rocks near the water, then fished the rapids, hooking some bass . It was our first complete day spent outside. Fortunately, there was a fresh enough breeze to keep the black flies away.

This morning, coffee mug in hand, I sat on the porch and watched in awe as a yearling moose ambled across the 'front yard' along shore. The birds are back, singing like crazy; warblers, vireos, white throated sparrows, flycatchers and thrushes. A young pair of loons recently arrived in our waters, seem much younger and smaller than the pair that was here last year. Today, the motorboat and dock went in the water. It was warm enough to leave the windows open at the cabin all day. Our lake friends are arriving, one by one, driving hundreds and even thousands of miles to get here. And like them, the hummingbirds made it back to their summer home in the woods. Today, one of them sat for a long time drinking and drinking at the feeder. It must have been a long flight.

So the elements are here: friends, birds, moose, fish, boats, and black flies. The music of spring has begun.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Letting Magic Happen

The March, 2010 issue of Cabin Life Magazine contains an article by K, about entertaining friends at the cabin. Here is the link to it. Letting Magic Happen

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Midwinter Thoughts of the Forest

It's midwinter today; we've got 45 days until the first day of spring, March 20th. Now that it's February, I start listening  to recordings of birdcalls and forest sounds to get me through the last weeks of winter. These sounds are a  great accompaniment to writing. My favorites are a CD called "Golden Pond" by Relax With, as well as an old cassette by the Nature Company called "Morning Songbirds."  

Today we received a letter from our friends at the 'camp' who live up north full-time. They don't have e-mail, so we engage in actual letter writing with each other. Their latest missive was a card with a note, a clipping from the local paper, a cartoon, and a small photocopied sheet with a quote typed on it. It looks like it had been typed a long time ago on a typewriter, then photocopied about 2,000 times.


The following has been called, by some literature professionals, the most perfect sentence in the English language. It appears on pages 114-115 in Thoreau's MAINE WOODS.

     "Once, when Joe (Aittean) called again, and we were listening for moose, we hear come, faintly echoing, or creeping from afar through the moss-clad aisles, a dull, dry, rushing sound with a solid core to it, yet as if half smothered under the grasp of the luxuriant fungus-like forest, like the shutting of a door in some distant entry of the damp and shaggy wilderness." Thoreau adds, "If we had not been there, no mortal had heard it. When we asked, Joe in a whisper what it was, he answered, 'Tree fall.' "