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Looking Up

Despite having a very slow start, spring is here, and things are looking up, both figuratively and literally.

On a practical level, I can now hang laundry on the line, and I know this might sound a little silly, but this brings me great joy. On every sunny day, blankets and quilts as well as other laundry have been hung outside. Here is the picture I take every spring, of a blanket made by my mémère—French Canadian for grandmother.  This sturdy, colorful blanket is nearly forty years old, and I use it on my bed in all but the hottest weather. For me, nothing says “welcome, spring” the way this blanket on the line does.

On a literal level, when I look up, I see that the trees are budding. Such sweet, tender little leaves.

Then there are the birds. Starting and raising a family is hard, hungry work, and the birds flock to our feeders (pun intended). When I sit on the patio—another spring delight—I watch the birds fly and flutter from the trees to the feeder. Occasionally, my wee camera even gets a fairly good shot.

This male goldfinch is resplendent in his yellow summer feathers.

This goldfinch looks pensive, perhaps thinking of how much effort goes into to raising a healthy family.

Then there is a male cardinal playing peekaboo.

Never, ever a dull moment in the backyard. Looking up is sheer delight.

And for blogging friends who don’t have hummingbirds where they live, I promise I will do my best do get a decent shot with my wee camera. This morning, I saw the first hummingbird of the season as she zipped to one of the feeders we have by the patio. An exciting way to start the day.

In the spring, looking down at flowers is also a delight, and as more of them come into bloom, I’ll be posting photos of them, too.

Spring, spring, spring!

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The Merry Month of Mud

Every spring, mud comes to Maine as regularly as the tourists do in the summer. Usually mud season begins Mid-March.  But this year we had so much snow that the mud has not only come later but also with a vengeance that is astonishing even to this Mainer, who has seen her fair share of mud seasons.

Yesterday, I almost lost my shoe in the mud by our house, and Liam hates to walk through it to get to the backyard. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any choice, and he comes back quite literally as a mud puppy. We wipe him as best we can, but oh, my kitchen floor.

Behold the muddy walk in the backyard, which is ever so much worse in reality than it is in this photo.

Clif and I were starting to despair, but last night, salvation came from an unlikely place—Facebook. One of my Winthrop  friends, who breeds dogs, wrote about how her dog yard was so muddy that she needed to get bales of straw to cover the mud.

Bales of straw? Immediately, the idea appealed to me.

Where, I asked, did she get the straw?

Paris Farmers Union, came her reply. Right in town.

This morning, lickity-split, Clif went to Paris Farmers Union for a bale of straw. The clerk who helped Clif told him that one man had come to buy five bales for a  driveway that was so muddy it was nearly impossible to walk on it.

This just goes to show that things could be worse. Our driveway is all right. It’s the walkways to and around the backyard that need help.

The bale was loaded in our trusty Honda Fit, one of the best little cars we have ever owned.

Clif removed the bale and was ready to go.

And how did Liam like the straw walks in his backyard? He liked them very much indeed, and Liam has resumed his rambles around the backyard. (Liam had such an aversion to walking in mud that he reluctantly did his business and then immediately wanted to come back in. Don’t blame him a bit for not liking to trot through the mud.)

The straw doesn’t entirely eliminate muddy paws, but it sure does help. We still have to wipe Liam when he comes in, but at least he doesn’t track all over the floor.

Take that, mud!

 

 

 

You Might as Well Jump

For six days of the week, Clif and I eat a healthy, plant-based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, legumes, and salads. However, on the seventh day, we rest and eat what we want. We find that a regular splurge once a week keeps us on the straight and narrow the rest of the time.

This week, our splurge was at the incomparable Red Barn, where the fried food is so fresh and so reasonably priced that it has almost become a landmark in central Maine. All right.  Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but I’m not kidding about the quality of the food and the prices. For a treat, the Red Barn is the place to go.

On Saturday’s trip to the Red Barn, we had mixed veggies—I guess we can’t totally get away from our plant-based diet—and homemade chips. Oh my, they were good.

The place was packed. All the tables were taken, and we had to sit on stools at the long counter in the new addition.

A woman who worked there was wiping the counter, and I asked her, “Is there any time when the Red Barn isn’t packed?”

“Not in the summer, ” she said. “It’s like this all the time.”

And why not? For the veggies, the chips, a drink that we shared, and a whoopie pie we split, the bill came to $11. Plus this is a very local business that pays its employees well. What’s not to like?

While we ate, it rained. The counter where we sat runs below a long bank of windows overlooking the parking lot, and we watched people hurry back and forth from their cars. Trees line the edge of the parking lot, and we saw two small birds—we couldn’t tell what they were from that distance—harass a crow.

By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped, and we decided to go to Hallowell, to the long concrete deck by the Kennebec River, to see if the sturgeons were jumping.

Sturgeons are a fish that has been around since prehistoric times, and they do indeed look like ancient ones. They are an endangered species, but but according the website Maine Rivers. “the Kennebec River has some of the best habitat for sturgeon in Maine. When Edwards Dam was removed…the sturgeon regained access to their full historic range on the river. In time, these spawning grounds may help the fish to recover. ”

In late June, early July, the sturgeons spawn and jump. Did they jump for us? They did not. All we saw was were some big ripples and an occasional flash of white. But no leaping prehistoric-looking fish.

For some great pictures of jumping sturgeons, here’s a link to a website by Linwood Riggs, a Maine photographer.

And to the sturgeons, here’s a song for you, a blast from the 1980s by Van Halen.

Yeah, sturgeons, you might as well jump.

 

 

Winter Wonderland

I got up this morning to a most lovely sight—the little snowstorm from last night left a fluffy covering on the branches, the fence, on everything. I immediately grabbed my camera and went out to take some pictures. As I was surrounded by this winter beauty, my spirits felt buoyed by the white, quiet landscape. Yet again, I reflected that I am a true Mainer—five generations on my mother’s side, and before that they came from Canada. I belong here spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Maybe in ten or fifteen years I’ll feel otherwise and want to head to warmer climes. But for now, at least, Maine is the place for me.

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This last one is for Ruth, who works with my daughter Shannon. I wanted her to know that we can still see outside our window.

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Still It Snows

But so far we haven’t lost our power, and for that Clif and I are very grateful. We’ve had about ten inches of snow, but it’s still snowing hard, and I’m guessing we’ll have over a foot before the day is done, but we probably won’t get twenty-four inches.

Nevertheless, this means two clean-ups—Clif with Little Green and me with my trusty blue shovel.  We’ll be heading out pretty soon—at around 10:30—and we’ll go back out later this afternoon.

Clif has already been out once this morning to clear paths for Liam so that he could do his morning business. Here is what our yard looked like at around 8 a.m.

Clif plows a path to the backyard for Liam.

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The path.

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Our front steps.

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Will the snow reach the bottom of the lantern?

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Clif standing in the front walkway.

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Winter has certainly come to Maine, but as long as we have our power, we are happy.

Here Comes the Snow Again…

Gray sky over the house,

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crow by the feeder,

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and the flying pig nearly buried in snow.

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Here comes the snow again, this time a blizzard, with up to twenty-four inches of snow predicted. Clif and I are hoping we don’t lose our power, but we are ready, just in case. We have pails of water in the basement, cans of soup in the pantry, plenty of bread and milk, plenty of peanut butter.  Clif hauled in extra wood for the furnace, and we have several bottles of lamp oil.

We are ready. But man oh man, we hope the power doesn’t go out.