All posts by Laurie Graves

I write about nature, food, the environment, home, family, community, and people.

Impossible Blue

In central Maine, today is a perfect example of the exquisite beauty of winter’s light. On Saturday, we had seven more inches of snow, but on Sunday the weather cleared, and now the skies are an impossible blue. Only in January and February, with the cold weather, do we get this kind of piercing clarity.

After going to a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at the local Catholic church, we stopped by the lake to take pictures of the sky and the snow and the trees. And, of course, the ice-fishing shacks.

Some people have their own kind of piercing clarity, and surely Martin Luther King Jr. was one such man.  It seems appropriate, then, to end with a few of his quotations:

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

And…

There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

Finally…

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Yes.

 

 

 

A Chocolate Box House?

Yesterday we had snow, and I am happy to report it was a Goldilocks’s storm where we got exactly the right amount—about six inches—and it wasn’t too wet or too heavy. No problem at all for Clif and Little Green, our trusty electric snow thrower.

Outside, it was a world of quiet and white with a touch of color here and there. Midwinter in Maine.

This morning when I got up, the sky had cleared and the temperature had dropped.

Out I went to take a picture of our snug, cozy home.

I hope I’m not being too presumptuous by borrowing a description from my friends across the pond to describe our home. That is, a chocolate box house.

More snow is predicted for Saturday, another seven inches or so. Again, just the right amount of snow.

Clif and Little Green will be ready. And who knows? Maybe snow-gauge Clif will soon make an appearance.

 

The Ice Storm Didn’t Cometh

Last weekend, an ice storm was predicted. There was even a weather advisory warning that we might get enough freezing rain to cause power outages.

Whenever there’s the threat of an ice storm, Clif and I think back to 1998 when there was a doozy of an ice storm that knocked out the power to half the state and felled trees with a sickening crack. We live in the woods, and during the worst of the storm, it sounded as though we were surrounded by gunfire as branches broke and fell to the ground.

We were without power for about eleven days, and what a miserable time we had. Every bit of water we used had to be hauled in, and the nights were long and chilly. (Fortunately we have a wood furnace, which meant we didn’t freeze.) It is a time we will never forget, and it certainly made us appreciate modern conveniences such as electricity.

Therefore, when we heard that there might be an ice storm, we sprang into action. Laundry done. Check. Extra bread for peanut butter sandwiches. Check. Plenty of wood in the basement for the furnace. Check. Extra water in big pots on the stove to go with the stored water in our cellar. Check. Check. Check.

We were ready. But to our delight and relief, the ice storm didn’t cometh. Instead, we got rain, which has made everything look miserable, but a dreary landscape is a vast improvement over a frozen, slippery one. And glory be, we didn’t have to worry about losing our power.

Instead of sharing pictures of what everything looks like now, I’ll share pictures I took midweek before the rain washed all the snow away. These were taken in town, about a mile from where we live, of Maranacook Lake.

I hope that we get a bit of snow and that Maine will look wintery again, the way it ought to in January. Not a blizzard mind  you. Instead, five or six inches. We always want things to be just right, don’t we? It seems that most of us are a bunch of Goldilocks yearning for that perfect porridge. All too often, we are disappointed. Still, we yearn, and in that yearning lies hope.

Our cats, I think, have found their perfect sweet spot in our living room. Rain or snow or freezing rain, it doesn’t matter.

May you find your perfect sweet spot this week and every week.

Brew Well. Do Good. Have Fun.

Last night, we went to Winthrop’s very own brewery, aptly called Van der Brew. It was trivia night, sponsored by Bailey Public Library and hosted by Nick Perry, Adult Services Librarian.

The modest exterior of Van der Brew, previously a Paris Farmers Union (a farm, home and garden center) belies the good vibe of this brewery.  

But the sign’s logo says it all: Brew Well. Do Good. Have Fun.

The spirit of this logo infuses the brewery. This is from Van der Brew’s website: “Making great beer isn’t just about the brews. It’s about building community, bringing people together and supporting local businesses and organizations that make our towns great places to live, work and play.”

Yes, yes, and yes, and Van der Brew is certainly making our community a better place.

Confession time: Not to put too fine a point on it, but I am not a beer enthusiast. Instead, I am more of a cocktail girl, and Van der Brew doesn’t serve cocktails or wine—only beer and soft drinks. But Clif is a beer drinker, and the atmosphere, which encourages all ages, is so much fun that a soft drink is just fine with me.

Yesterday we arrived early to get a good table and chairs for our trivia team, the Great Library, named after my very own series of YA fiction.  Here are pictures of the interior before the crowds arrived.

And here is a picture of our fearless trivia leader, Nick, who has been leading trivia nights at various places for ten years. Go, Nick!

By the time trivia night started, the place was packed, and there were around eighteen teams. Liz, one of our team members, told me that a couple months ago, on Van der Brew’s first trivia night, there were about six teams. Clearly, the word has spread about Nick’s trivia nights at the brewery.

Along with being a fun night, donations were also taken for the library for a much-needed proposed parking lot nearby. By the end of the night, the box on the stand was filled with donations.

Also, at various times the line for beer and soft drinks was long, which meant Van der Brew also had a good night.

So how did Team Great Library do? Well, I am sorry to report that we weren’t at the top. We bombed on questions regarding sports and geography, but we did pretty well with books and movies. Big surprise! We talked ourselves out of the right answers a couple of times, which was irritating. As a result, we came in ninth, smack dab in the middle.

But we had a lot of fun, and Clif and I will return on February 14 for the next trivia night.

Many thanks, Nick, and many thanks Van der Brew for this fun event that brings our community together.

 

Living in Place

For a New Year’s resolution, Clif and I have made a plan to use our car less and thus reduce our carbon emmissions. Our intention is to cut 1,000 miles from our yearly total, which was 7,800 last year.

Because we live in a rural community with no public transportation, a car is a necessity for us.  We must drive to the grocery store, and we must travel to sell books. Nevertheless there are plenty of ways to cut back, and one way is to become more involved with our town—Winthrop—which has a fantastic library and a new brewery, both of which sponsor many events each month. (This Friday night at the brewery is trivia night. Yes, we will be there.)

Another way is to go for walks and appreciate the natural beauty of the town itself, including our very own wooded road.

Whatever the season, there is something to notice. Sometimes the trees even look back.

As we walk, the crows are always watching. I was lucky to snap a picture of these two before they flew away.

Then there are the brown leaves on the winter trees,

and the little stream that winds through the woods not far from where we live.

I call this kind of close attention “living in place,” and it seems to me that focusing on what is nearby is a kind of meditation, which, in turn, can lead to an abiding of love of where one lives—town, city, country, or suburb.

In this time of climate crisis, a love of place is of utmost importance. Because in the end, we pay attention to what we love. We nurture it. We take care of it. We don’t destroy it.

Viewed in this light, living in place might be the most important thing a person can do.