I found these beautiful primrose on a walk down to inspect the dock. They're right by the path to the sleeping cottage and they look so much better than the primrose I keep trying to cultivate in the garden in Cushing.
Dinner is simmering. The "camp" as they say in Maine is cleaned and open for the season. Sheets are washed, beds made, floors scrubbed, rugs swept, bathrooms spic and span. We are ready for visitors.
There's a slight drizzle and it's a low gray sky, but across the river the trees are misty, seafoam green and our daffodils are still blooming. We have a great swatch of them in the middle of the blackberry brambles. I thought that they'd be gone but they're still in perfect form and they make such a nice splash of color in an otherwise still early in the season landscape.
Yesterday, we were in Connecticut for a bridal shower for Miss S., my step daughter. It was a really lovely affair, and if I do say so, the Bride-To-Be was even more lovely. It's been a while since I've been to one of these shin-digs and I forgot how uncomfortable it must be for a young woman to sit, with all eyes on her, open gifts and make the proper exclamations of thanks. She did it with grace and style and I was really proud of her. I had nothing to do with her raising up so I'd like to acknowledge what a great job her mom and dad did. I love you, Miss S., like you are my own.
Ok, personal interlude over.
We finally found an opening in my work travel schedule and RG's golf calendar and we headed out to Cushing first thing this morning. I've not been up since Super Bowl weekend. RG has come up a few times to check for squirrels and leaks (none of either, thankfully), so it's good to be back.
TWC-Maine turned on the internets as promised and I'm able to work from the mid-coast for the next two days. Weather permitting, we'll also try to neaten up the grounds (I swear we raked leaves in the fall, but you surely wouldn't know it), and maybe put together the bunk beds in the sleeping cottage. So far, we don't have any 14-person weeks planned for this summer but you never know when we'll get lucky.
Finally, if you're looking for a good book recommendation I have two--polar opposites:
The Talking Heads song has been playing over and over in my head since about 4 pm on Friday afternoon. Around that time, we were heading through Brunswick on the way to Cushing, when a Bald Eagle swooped past the car and headed up the river.
About 45 minutes later, I spotted this pair, sitting in a tree overlooking upper end of the St. George and RG was kind enough to pull a yooey on Rt. 1 and go back so that I could take a couple of shots. At that moment, I was desperately wishing for my Big Lens, but a little cropping and some editing and we can at least see that they're real Bald Eagles.
We arrived at the house just before nightfall. As we were unloading the car, I noticed that the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom looked like someone with a muddy bottom had been sitting on it. Funny, because I'd thoroughly cleaned theentire cottage both bathrooms before we left on Sunday in anticipation of house guests this weekend. Then I noticed that someone with very dirty hands had been in the downstairs sink.
Then I noticed that Malcolm, the bobbing-headed moose wasn't on his shelf next to Larry the bobbing-headed lobster. Malcolm was on the floor next to a pile of scat. UT OH. We had a visitor...mouse, raccoon, wayward lobsterman, squirrel, something else?
There was scat on the couch, on the rocking chair by the sliding doors and the nice LLBean comforter that I'd splurged on for the guest room looked like someone had cleaned off on in after a mud-wrestling match. Very strange because everything is snow covered and frozen. There's no mud or dirt to be seen for hundreds of miles, at least none that I can think of. Even the clam flats are frozen solidly over.
Uncle Dick finally spotted a very large gray squirrel behind the chair in the living room. Aunt Patty and I did what any wise woman would do--we went and stood in the driveway while the guys got the critter outta there. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to grab the camera, but I was a little too freaked and besides, the next time we saw that guy he was sprinting off the deck, down the hill, heading toward the river. He didn't even pause to climb a tree.
For all we know, he might have decided to swim over to South Thomaston.
We stripped the beds, sent the guys to the store for Lysol and disinfectant. We swept, washed and sanitized and marveled at the lack of damage done. He must not have been in the house long, as nothing was gnawed and nothing was really damaged (the bed spread has two small holes, easily repaired). We were very lucky. It could have been much worse.
On Sunday, we spotted the really large red fox who frequents the area--not once but twice. He's almost the size of a coyote and very healthy looking--he's definitely not lacking any food source this winter.
We arrived home this morning to discover that the ice chopping dudes who were to clear the ice dams on Saturday did not, in fact, do that. Ice chopping dude arrived around 11 this morning and thankfully, we've had no more water damage than what had happened on Friday morning. Top that off with a Santonio
Holmes' Super Bowl MVP Award and some good company for the Super Bowl and it was a fine weekend.
UPDATE: Last night, local news reported on the health of the Bald Eagle population in Maine (more than 450 nesting pairs and eagles living in every county in the state). Video of the report is here. And of course, there's the Bald Eagle cam, where you can watch the eagles' nest.
Ok, it's not really Siberia, but this morning it felt like it (-12 when this shot was taken) and it looked a bit like it. I've been reading a wonderful book about Maine by Lewis Robinson called Water Dogs. It was reviewed in today's NYTimes Book Review, which says
"Lewis Robinson’s first novel, “Water Dogs,” is stuffed with snow. Open
practically any page of this book and crystals will shake out. “There
was a dark blue heaviness to the air,” Robinson writes, “that made it
seem snow was minutes away.”
.....ayuh. The review goes on to say
"Fiction writers have long turned to winter to advance bluer palettes,
slicker surfaces and sharper contrasts. The sky darkens, the wind picks
up and flakes start to fall. Horizons shrink. Couples bicker. Cars
slide off roads. Obliteration tends to loiter between the sentences."
On a morning like this, it's easy to understand why a Maine writer would invoke the bleakness of a Siberian landscape. After a long week of work in Ohio and some trouble getting home on Friday (I'm batting .1000 on air travel lately--if I'm on a flight, then it's going to be late), we got up early on Saturday and headed to
Cushing for a quick get-away. RG wanted to go to an estate auction, where we managed to leave a substantial amount of money, but got some very good deals. Our best purchase is a room size braided rug that covers most of the bad 1982 linoleum in our kitchen floor. The floor has been my avowed enemy since we bought the place, and we'd planned put in a wood laminate floor this spring.
But with the economy....well, we've decided to save that money. The rug covers 99% of the area where the laminate has worn off and the dirt embeds and it looks halfway decent. RG also managed to buy a pair of circa 1780's push-up candlesticks for a very good price and a wonderful Bennington Pottery flask that looks like a book.
We also got an 1820's Pembroke table and a Windsor chair from the same period for a song.
This morning we woke up to frost on the windows and a very chilly house. So we built a fire and had a fantastic breakfast of pancakes, eggs and slab cut bacon (fresh from the Thomaston Grocery) which we worked off with a snowshoe expedition all over the point.
Just after returning home, a Pileated Woodpecker flashed by our windows and proceeded to work on a tree outside the front door for quite a while. He was kind enough to pose for a few shots for me.
UPDATE: More photos of the river this morning on flickr.
Sunrise 6:49 am as seen from the deck in my pajamas. Not too shabby a way to begin the day after Thanksgiving and the day holds much promise. After a dump run, we're heading to the St. George Yuletide celebration. We hope to time our arrival so that we have a soup lunch at the Oceanview Grange in Martinsville. Proceeds will benefit the St. George Fuel Assistance Fund--last year the fund helped more than 20 families and this year, well, we think the need might be even greater.
Later today, we'll make a run up to Camden. There's a wonderful second hand bookstore and I want to scout an original copy of the Beans of Egypt, Maine. I reread the book in just about one sitting on Wednesday and was smacked upside the head (once again) by the genius of the author. And now having lived here for six years, I see the honesty in her writing. I read the original the year that I graduated from college and it made a deep impression--it also taught me Maine sayings like 'downcellah' and 'Christly' long before I ever moved here--but in 1995, Carolyn Chute released her "finished version" of the book. It's different-not better or worse, I guess, but edited. I'd like to have a copy of the original as I first read it.
Later tonight, we're goin' over the neighbors for a lobster dinner (the first of three meals of lobster this weekend--again, doin' our part and eatin' wicked many bugs to help the industry) and to discuss the letting of our place to them for Christmas. They've 20+ people coming in from Chicago for the holiday and need overflow sleeping, so.....
A steely sun rises over the river, touching a gray St. George--it's a Thanksgiving sky that reminds me of the Thanksgiving skies when I was a kid. Maybe a touch of snow later in the day? Maybe not, but it's cold enough for it.
We have a lot to be thankful for this year: health, a happy, safe family, good and dear friends.
This year we have one more thankful note: our oldest became engaged last night to a wonderful young man. We've watched their relationship grow and develop for these last 3 years and they are a joy to be around. They love each other in a way that's more mature than their years, and their happiness is infectious. It's a blessing that her father and I might feel, even more than they, as we both realize how rare such a deep and healthy love is to find.
Unlike yesterday (see above), it's a nasty, nasty day in the mid coast of Maine. High winds (predicted gusts over 60 mph) and rain with temperatures in the mid-40's and gray. Grey, Charcoal, meh. The ice on the rocks has melted off and the ocean is the exact color of the pewter sky. The rain blows sideways past the window and it's not fit to be outside.
I was up at 5, wide awake, listening to the wind howl and something banging into the side of the cottage. At 6 I gave up, got up, made a fire, brewed coffee, cooked a mess of apple cider bacon and eggs for RG, and then started baking for the holiday.
Mom's Apple Cake
INGREDIENTS 1 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup oil 3 eggs 2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp salt 1 TBS vanilla (I use a splash more) 1 cup chopped walnuts 2+ cups of sliced apples
Preheat oven to 375. Beat sugar, oil and eggs well. Add the dry ingredients and then the vanilla. Fold in the apples and nuts. Bake in a greased/floured 9 x 13 pan for 45-55 minutes.
Next up is a pumpkin pie and then possibly a raisin pie...but for now, I'm going to sit by the fire and pet Mac the Dog's ears and watch the white caps in the cove.
A field in Blue Hill, ME, shows some fall colors of the finest kind.
All around the mid-coast we're seeing signs advertising cheap lobster and reminding us that it's time to help the fishermen, who are struggling. Demand for lobster has dropped severely due to the economy. Lobster prices have plummeted in recent weeks, while fuel and bait costs remain high. Some lobster processors have stopped buying lobster and much of the fleet has pulled their traps and stopped fishing.
We're doing our part with a full New England Clam Bake tonight: Steamers, Lobster, Baked Potatoes, Baked Beans, Blueberry Pie. Hey, it's the least we can do.