Does a lone loon sing ?

This one doesn’t. Loons call to communicate between a pair or to report threats. This one seems to be alone, unthreatened and mum. Audubon reports that, “in winter, they are silent and more subtly marked. They are solitary when feeding but may gather in loose flocks at night”. Although we are in a National Park, the only animal sound I hear is from squirrels chattering in the woods or from a tree in front of our townhouse.

Rockefeller Hall is on the grounds of the Schoodic Institute. This was part of the Navy Base that was here after John D. Rockefeller donated his land to the National Park Service.

Wayside image, audio description provided

Today it contains upscale housing and exhibits about Schoodic Point. We make sure it’s secure when we do our rounds.

Swimming at the closest YMCA continues to soothe me, twice a week. It’s a breathing meditation that goes by quickly, calms me, lets me sort my thoughts and get a little exercise to boot. I’m certainly breathing a little easier today. Since Tim is recovering from a broken wrist, I like to go early and the morning seascapes always catch my breath.

We haven’t had much snow that lasts yet and I appreciate the dry surfaces. I walk the peninsula with a camera, which I can use with gloves, and iPhone, which I can’t. Oddly enough, sometimes, the iPhone captures the best pictures. This is a new favorite.

I’ve packed up my loom to bring home and switched to spinning cotton again on my book charkha wheel. Such a simple clever design. They became widely used in India when Ghandi encouraged people to spin their own yarn to weave into cloth. Under British colonial rule, they had been growing and exporting their cotton, which was then spun and woven into cloth and sold back to them, heavily taxed, and many people could not afford it. When things go well, it’s another form of meditation.

I see some hand spun towels and maybe a shirt in my future.

We like to pack light for our trips. I brought two heavy sweaters and the yarn and pattern for a new one. It was a kit from Ysolda Teague called Bleideag and worked up quickly. A new classic and my souvenir from my winter at Schoodic Institute.

Add it to my good memories.

I like my ice in a glass

There’s a New Year’s tradition downeast, wherein people hike Cadillac Mountain In Acadia National Park on New Year’s eve to see the sun rise. It is the first place in the United States the morning sun touches from November to March. Sunrise here is late but not that late. We would have had to hike at 0500 or so. We chose to see the sun drenched mountain at noon instead.

We started up a path, which looked interesting, but encountered sheer ice right away. Tim acquiesced to my fears and we turned around and walked the road to the summit instead. I don’t like ice under my feet and there wasn’t enough of it to be managed with micro spikes.

This was the view of ice we saw from the road. I could get spoiled walking in National Parks, so well maintained. There was a trail around the summit that even enabled handicapped access.

After my trip back home, Tim whisked me as far east as we could go while remaining in the United States, to Lubec, Maine and the West Quoddy Lighthouse. This has to be one of the most photogenic lighthouses if only for its red stripes. We stayed in a small cottage, where the wind shook the house but never made it inside.

On our drive to the lighthouse, we stopped and walked in a wildlife preserve, where I once again turned back after we found patches of black ice. Tim found it the hard way, he slipped and fell, but didn’t make much of it. After we got to our cabin, his wrist swelled (this wrist has about $7,000 of hardware in it from a meeting with the ice in 2018) and the next day he went to the local emergency room. He hadn’t brought our insurance cards with him so we found the numbers and drew them on a piece of cardboard. It worked.

Turns out, he has a small avulsed fracture, a piece of one of the many wrist bones has broken off. It was much less painful than the first fracture and he has full range of motion. He’s off to a specialist on Wednesday and already communicated with his surgeon back home. But he didn’t let it interfere. We hiked all around West Quoddy Head with our micro spikes and a good time was had by all.

Red paint goes a long way in these parts.

So cute from any angle.

Serendipity

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that this might happen, we all knew it would, but it came as a total surprise to me. I had painted during the day until my hand was a claw and quit work and walked to the point for sunset. It was windy and cold and I kept trying to tuck in under the cover of rocks while I waited. The days are already growing longer, sunset is at 4:00 pm.

I’m reminded I have to return to this site at high tide, and when it’s windy, to see the waves crash in this cut. The ground covers catch my eye, especially since I spend so much time looking at my feet when I walk on rocks.

But back to the sunset.

Here’s proof that the sun really is a star. Every shot I took captured a six pointed star.

I hiked around the point, still trying to keep out of the wind, and after I found a stable place to stand, I turned around and was stunned to find this handsome fellow.

What a treat. Full moon should make our night rounds easy, no flashlights needed.

It is written in the sky

There is no doubt about it, things will change. And to confirm it, I saw a sun halo yesterday while we hiked at low tide out to an island. A very brief internet search called this a sun dog, sun rainbow and a whirling rainbow. It was thought to be a sign of change by Native Americans.

Specifically, weather will change while a front blows though today but I can only hope that a lot more will change. My Christmas wishes: the pandemic will ebb and we can hold our distant loved ones again, safe and healthy; people will get along respectfully, listen to one another and be kind. During my eight hour drive the other day, a John Denver song, “Country Road” came on the radio. It made me think what a different time that had been. So much gentler.

Tim asked me to walk across the great abyss with him. He found a way over large slippery rocks and boulders with seaweed and streams thrown in for fun. I began, then said no way. You have fun. I often balk at his adventures and sometimes rightly so. I’ll admit this time I was wrong. After I gave up and walked along the road and he continued onward, I saw a much more reasonable path over small gravel. So after he disappeared, I too made it to Little Moose Island.

And as usual, it was worth it.

Here’s the view looking back to where we are living. There is a water tower on the shore and our townhouse is back in there.

The island with its rock formations, surprisingly reminded me of Barn Rock (my favorite place) on Deal Island – on the other side of the world and in a different hemisphere. We are all from the same core after all.

I watched these clouds form a heart and it filled me with gratitude.

Or, now that I look at them, maybe I was already thankful and thought I saw a heart.

We made it ashore before the tide washed away our path. I look forward to more adventures with this guy.

Happy holidays and to wishes for a healthy, happy, peaceful New Year.

There and back

I committed to return home to work a couple of days a month. I should be committed. It has taken ten days of travel and quarantine and three Covid tests to work two days. Needless to say, I won’t be working in January in the hope that travel restrictions may eventually ease again, they have to right?

Before heading home, we took a lovely hike in Acadia proper, around Lake Juniper and up the South Bubble. It included a at least a half mile or more of “board” walk. There was a lovely bridge around the inflow/outflow?

Beaver activity was evident.

Pacman tree

There were some rocks to climb at the end, as there always are, and the views were spectacular.

South Bubble, Acadia National Park

We drove by the Thunder Hole, but the tide wasn’t quite right. We heard little burps instead but will return again two hours before the high tide. A low cave captures air and then releases it in a burst of sound when conditions are right.

This is one of the few working boats we have seen since we arrived in Maine.

There were some gnarly trees along the way.

Determined to take root

We returned home to one of my better quiches. I don’t have power tools in the apartment in Maine so I made a pie crust by grating the butter. It was pretty crisp.

Then I hit the road for the eight hour journey home. The ride went by fast, as I drove through the White Mountains of NH and the Green Mountains of Central VT to arrive home to our mountains in the Adks.

To my shock and dismay, critters quickly moved in. When the cat’s away… This porcupine came lumbering out from under my front porch. I think he thought he was invisible by ducking his head on the other side of the tree he climbed.

He left plenty of sign: footprints all over the deck and some scat!

We had problems with mice in Eddie, our 2004 Ford Explorer, all fall. I had to replace Eddie’s battery this trip (in 8 below 0 temp) and checked the glove box where I had placed a dryer sheet, to dissuade the mice. A few droppings but…they had eaten the plysplit woven key holder I had left in the car. It was shredded and unwoven.

While I did my laundry, I looked for the handwoven bag that holds the clothes pins. I found it in the outside basement alcove, also eaten.

As I reflect on it, this must mean my textiles have good taste, or at least taste good. I cut away the shredded part of the bag and put it back in the alcove in case it comes in handy for a mouse house.

Eyes on the ground

We hope to continue dodging bullets. Another employee had to quarantine due to secondary exposure so we haven’t met yet. We had last week to ourselves and spent time exploring. Sometimes it’s the small things that matter. I found a way to bushwhack to the beautiful shore without crossing any roads. Small victory. But the other day, I lost my oldest face mask. One that I sewed early on and carried with me during my daily walks since March. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but we’ve been together through snow, rain and heat and a good part of the pandemic.

While I was exploring the rocky coast, I saw another person! I took out my mask but we stayed far apart and it wasn’t needed. Then I bushwhacked back home. Somewhere along the way, I lost my mask. I was actually mildly distraught. Not really, but it was the mask that I had kept looped on my phone holder (made from a cross stitch project I made in my teens, with a new tablet woven band added) for all that time. So yesterday, we retraced my steps. On the way out, nothing. It had been very windy when I lost it so I looked in the bushes surrounding the trail. While Tim wandered further down the rocks, some of which were icy, I kept looking. Nothing. So we headed home.

The beginning of the walk is a little uncertain and we had to backtrack, just like I did the other day. And then…there frozen in a puddle, was my missing mask. My day was made. If we hadn’t become a little turned around, it could still be lying there. Small victory.

I saw this heart rock while hiking the other day and it cheered me up.

Nature’s colors are often inspirations for art and crafts. I think this rainbow hat mirrors the ground covers.

A lot of research is conducted in the park. I took a closer look at these garden plots because they had some colors I was surprised to see in nature and wanted to see what little plants they were. Instead they turned out to be tiny plastic swords – markers for a plant project? Or perhaps signs of an end of season party.

Windswept, rocky coasts sing to me.

Reunited.

Pregaming

My to do list is done. I set some crazy goals before we headed to our new volunteer gig at the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park.

I finished: two more quilts for grand children and one for a friend’s wedding; a lace shawl that had been in the works for two years; hats for coworkers’ kids; and a few woven scarves. The scarves were really a test to see if I wanted to bring the table loom to Maine. I did and did.

As usual, I spent about ten days getting projects together to bring with me and half a day to pick out and pack my clothes.

And we’ve moved into our new quarters. All is well. Today we picked up a humongous order of groceries and took a look around. We can hear the waves crashing from the apartment. We took a hike that almost caused a panic attack when I had to climb down steep, wet rocks, right in our backyard, a National Park!!

We’re downeast, as many of the business names remind us, but nowhere is isolated enough from COVID-19. We had negative tests before arriving in Maine but another Park worker is in quarantine due to exposure so we have our first week off to explore.

Time to make the pizza

We took a nice walk in the woods last week to Boreas Pond. The road was washed out in the same storm that knocked out our bridge. This meant we had to walk the whole 13.5 miles round trip. It was a beautiful day, so why not?

At the pond, we were greeted by circles of ice and a zeppelin cloud floating overhead. We enjoyed lunch and napped before heading out. The ice and snow we had to contend with on the way in had melted but we were no faster leaving. Couldn’t make a pizza that night because it takes a couple of hours to get the embers just right and the oven hot enough.

It will be a beautiful place to explore by kayak next year if we don’t have to portage the 13 miles!

Last night I made pizza in the oven I built a few years ago. Nothing better. Sun sets at 4:30 so I cooked by headlamp and may have been a little giddy.

The pizza cooks in 90 seconds and is fun to watch. I used my telescope while I waited for the fire to be ready.

Actually I was making sure the whole structure didn’t burn down because flames were licking the outside of the oven. I have a laser thermometer and although the oven floor was 800 degrees f, the roof didn’t get hotter than 140.

One day I will line up things to bake: bread, pie, roast, with one fire. One day.

Off with a splash

I am not the most graceful person getting in and out of a dinghy on a rocky Maine beach. In my defense, I was weighted down by a drybag on my back with our electronics. As I was climbing aboard the stern, the boat bucked, and with my legs and arms already in the boat, my butt and drybag landed in the water. It was an impossible position to get out of myself and Tim had to haul me aboard. Another memorable dinghy moment. One year, the dinghy flipped and we had to bob for apples in the cove.

We finished getting the grates up before the island closers arrived.

The departure day was perfect, clear, dry and crisp. The lighthouse was tucked in and would shine all alone for the winter.

Aldo Leopold bench we built in 2008