Mornings in Maine

Do you have a cup of coffee? Just come out front when you’ve got a warm cuppa in hand. I’ll be sitting in the adirondack chairs, waiting for you. Let’s welcome in the day together.

Each day, and often every hour, the lake changes her face.

And on misty mornings, sometimes her face disappears altogether.

I use the descriptive “sweet” over and over in referencing Square Pond. It’s clumsy terminology, but the most apt. The waters are gentle, warm and friendly. My mother says she like “the viscosity” and there’s something to that. This body of water has an extra palpable quality to it, with arms that surround and keep you buoyant. The lake is an entity, as much as any of the other creatures that inhabit her shores. And she is a sweet one.

Hat Pin water weeds. Say it to yourself like this, “They’re just plants. They’re just plants. They are not tentacles. Now it’s wrapped around my foot, BUT IT’S COOL. I’m FINE.”

Did you bring the morning treats for our friends? Let me just step back inside for a moment to grab some almonds…and the camera.

My Gram used to feed the “chippers” year round, and in the summers we would too, or rather, I would. With a bag of fresh peanuts still in their shells, I spent hours each summer waiting with a peanut in my outstretched hand. It would rarely take longer than a week before that year’s chipmunk was sitting on my knee, stuffing nuts into it’s dufflebag cheeks. Sometimes it would be the same chipper, year after year, recognizable by a scar or marking on its side.

Since no one’s been around for a few years, they were pretty suspicious of us at first and I also had no intention of taming them. As it turns out, bribes are not necessary for their affection. They sincerely seem to like the company. After only a few days, they began appearing each morning at coffee time, hamming it up for the camera. By our last few days, they had thrown all caution to the wind and were running about under our chairs and over our feet.

I am here to eat your face off with my cute.

Muzzlepowsch enhance…

After the first week I did start scattering about a few seeds or nuts. I also tried to construct a small dining set, using found branches and a few nails, but didn’t really have the right tools. Next summer I’m bringing doll house chairs and tables so I can anthropomorphize to my heart’s content.

I mean, come on. How can I not?

Our first morning, I was ripped a new one by the red squirrels who dominate the tree tops. They had claimed the place for their own and when we showed up, they were pissed.

There’s no doubt who they’re chewing out.

My Father hates the red squirrels, because if they get in your house, they will see your furniture as nothing more than offered stuffing for their homes. Which they build everywhere. Literally.

Despite their disdain for us, it turns out they’re attention hogs too. They went from sending out high alarms at our footsteps, to competing with the chipmunks for most photogenic.

What? Who’s that? Oh no, not you guys…

I heard that. You just captioned this photo in a squirrel voice. It was under your breath, but don’t try to deny it.

So how’s that cup of coffee? All done? Let’s stretch our legs. How about a canoe ride?

It’s a perfect morning for it. Let’s go.


I wonder how the Turtle Cove is this morning?

Our land extends over the road and through the culvert, cupping a quarter of the headwaters of the lake.

As we leave the estuary and head back into “The Big Water”, as Fern calls it, we can dock in at the beach at Little Camp, in our own little cove.

I want to see if Loonie is there…the hurt loon that spent a week recuperating in our sheltered sanctuary.

If you have never heard a loon call, you can listen to recordings of them here. The first call I heard this year, I felt it penetrate past the sinew and bones, down to the marrow. There, the notes got to work weaving back together rifts in my soul. While all the loon songs are beautiful, my favorite is actually the short “hoot” that they use when saying hello to each other.

Well, before we get on with the day, how about a stroll down The Path? No, don’t bother with your shoes. The forest floor offers up it’s love through springy moss and pine needles.

Nature’s plush carpet.

The mushrooms deserve a post of their own. And they’ll get one.

Enter the forest.

Let’s sit on this stump here for a moment. Watch the forest floor, as it comes alive.
Do you see him? Look closely. Unless they are moving, Harvestmen, or Daddy Longlegs, are arachnids (but not spiders, as they are in the order Opiliones) that are invisible when motionless. If you sit quietly for a few minutes, you will see that there are hundreds of them, but they have no interest in people. When approaching a foot, they slow down, gingerly reach out one long leg to test the object, and then steer clear.

Their companions are the caterpillars, who will make a bigger appearance in the mushroom post.

I would have to be as quiet as a harvestman, or as camoflauged as a caterpillar to evade the sharp senses of the resident eagles, who roost in a tall pine 3/4 of the way down the path. I stalked these great beings for two weeks, succeeding only in alerting them to my presence as a total pest. On our last day, I finally got some sorta focused shots from the canoe.

Great Aunt Marion, is that you?

Well friend, the rest of the day is beckoning, so I suppose this is where we must part. But how are you, how is your heart? Serene? Relaxed?

Good, then my work here is done.

Next up…foraging on the East Coast!


15 thoughts on “Mornings in Maine

  1. my kids looooooved this post. they were riveted. jackson kept saying “sweet! that is so sweet!” so i guess sweet is the right terminology? and he recognized jeff and clover immediately. “hey! i know them!” man, do i ever need to visit maine. what beauty!

  2. I love the hoot best too. I can imagine their sounds travelling over water, bouncing off trees…. Well, as a non-American, that photo of the eagle just made it seem completely real, I of course have never seen one live – my memories are of Uncle Sam posters? and the Eagle on The Muppet Show. I was kind of taken aback with awe when I saw your photo of him/her….all at once I understood the type of raw wildness around your Camp. Thank God it is still there. It goes without saying that those chippers are mighty cute…i particularly love the red truck filled with stuffing courtesy of the reds.
    look forward to more as always

  3. Awesome! Yes, I am quite familiar with the water plants. Creepy things. My boys love the “chippers” here. But, wow. The picture of the bald eagle. Wow. We’ve been hoping to get some close-ups of hte local birds of prey, but as of yet, no such luck. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures with us. Looking forward to the fungi post!

  4. A funny thing….when we were at our lake house in the adirondacks, I took about 20 different shots of the “tentacles”. Had no idea they were called pin cushion weeds. My camera did not do them justice, but I share the same affection for them…they are the cutest little things!

  5. You’ve got my heart aching for home. All these things I haven’t seen in so long… even the Harvestmen, because I can’t remember ever seeing one here, only big, hairy wolf spiders the size of my hand. And centipedes. In my bed.

    These are some of the most beautiful photos you’ve posted. I think your genuine love for this place transfers well through the photos… you photograph things the way you look at them, and yours has the feeling of someone profoundly in love.

    Ay, ay, ay, what a place the Atlantic Northeast is.


  6. that was lovely. i had coffee in hand too. just as you suggested. it made me wonder why you guys can’t just live there. but i know there’s that career thing….it’s keeping my clan rooted here in boulder, but it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming of us all picking up and moving to italy every few days. i’m trying to just stay curious about that desire.

    your work was done well here today. my heart is slowed and smiling.

    1. we are wondering why we can’t just live there too…or in near by portland and go there on weekends. not so much the career thing, but more to do with jeff’s son being here in the bay. i had a good heart smile at your “picking up and moving to italy” imaginings. take me with you!

  7. wow! each picture was a treat in and of itself! if i went there i would not want to come back! “the loons, the loons!” hahaha i loved hearing the different calls. ahhh! let me just dive through the screen into those serene waters filled with pincushion water weeds, then take a walk through that magical forest….

    i can’t wait for the next post 😀

  8. Oh, this was so magical and awesome! I really felt like I was being led by the hand through someone’s beloved special place. I also realized (sitting trapped behind my desk at the office job that sometimes feels as if it’s sucking my soul right outta me) that I really, really need a vacation. Thank you so much for sharing yours!

    And that eagle! Beautiful… but kind of terrifying.

    1. Argh and then I pressed enter and it posted it! What I was going to add was… well my favourite part was definitely the chipmunk ohmygodtheyaresocute! My heart just went “squee!” the whole time!

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