Category Archives: Nature

The Still Cold of January

The merry hubbub of December is over, and, as always, I am sorry to see it end. Somehow, all the holiday preparations and bustle brighten this darkest month of the year.

Yet January in Maine has its consolations. Yes, it is one of the coldest months, but it is also one of the most beautiful, alternating between snowy days and then days so still, bright and blue  you can hardly stand the glory.

Wednesday was a bright and blue kind of day, and as I was out doing errands—mailing a book, stopping at the library, going to the grocery store—I brought my wee camera along. I knew I would find plenty to photograph.

I am a sucker for dried or wizened fruit on a bare tree, and I took this picture at the town’s Credit Union.

At the Post Office, I saw cattails, spikes of exploded fluff, by the railroad tracks.

Across the road from the post office, on Maranacook Lake, little shacks have been set up for ice fishing, and they have been clustered into a charming, impromptu village.

Then it was on to the public beach, just around the corner.  So lovely, empty, and melancholy.

But on the ice, there were more shacks to brighten the mood.

And onward we head, toward the full moon of January, the Wolf Moon.

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Celebrating with Seafood and a Whoopie Pie

It’s not every day that you get the first shipment of your new book. Therefore, when the box with copies of Library Lost came in, Clif and I decided to celebrate and go to the Red Barn for some of their delectable seafood and, of course, a whoopie pie. So good and so reasonably priced.

And speaking of Library Lost…my blogging friend Eliza asked how a copy might be ordered. Glad you asked, Eliza! For others who are wondering, all you have to do is click here, and it will take you to our Hinterlands Press website, where you can order a signed copy directly from us. The book can also be ordered through Amazon.

On another subject…the holidays are coming—tomorrow is December 1—and yesterday I went into the woods to gather pine and dried fern stalks for outside arrangements on our little deck.

I went midafternoon when this time of year the sun is setting and the woods are filled with shadows. There were lots of fern stalks by the little stream that runs behind our house and eventually makes its way to the Upper Narrows Pond.

There were some winterberries left, a bright punctuation against the white of winter. Fortunately, I had gathered winterberries a couple of weeks ago, when they were more plentiful.

And I came across this tree, covered with fungi.

Always something to notice in the woods, even in the winter.

More Snow to Come

There are two things Mainers hate to see in the winter—the first is rain, and the second is freezing rain. The two often come hand in hand, and at best, they make the landscape a soggy, unappealing mess. At worst, the roads and walkways become slippery, treacherous even. And the power goes out.

Yesterday, we got both, and here is what the driveway looked like. What. A. Mess.

The front yard looked a little better. The uncut perennials bring some visual interest to the wet landscape. Still, it’s hardly a sparkling winter wonderland.

I am happy to report that we did not lose our power, and fortunately, the roads were not slippery as we had to bring our daughter Dee to Portland where she could take the bus back to New York City. While we were sorry to see her leave and would have loved to have had another day with her, it was good Dee could leave when planned. She didn’t have to forfeit  her bus ticket, and she didn’t have to take another vacation day.

While Dee was here, we went to the cinema to watch two movies that perfectly illustrate our eclectic tastes. Both films were worth seeing. The first was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Critics have not liked this movie very much, but with all due respect, I think the critics are wrong in this case. For those who like fantasy, Fantastic Beasts is a terrific movie with good acting, a fine script, wonderful cinematography, and a big plot about the supposed superiority of one group over another mixed in with the lust for power.

The second movie we saw was Widows, a dark heist movie starring the fabulous Viola Davis, among other good actors. Widows is not the fun romp that the Ocean’s movies were, but it sure is gripping, and the film leaves the viewer with much to think about. Again, the notion of power is explored, this time through the lenses of money, brutality, and politics. Also, there is a genuinely surprising plot twist that none of us saw coming.

Now that Dee is gone, we are settling back into our routine, which will be busy, busy, busy with a new book coming out soon. Very soon.

To add to the fun, another snow storm is coming.

Winter is definitely here, despite what the calendar might say, and I’m thinking it is time to bring the last of the frogs in.

Fur and Feathers on a Snowy Day

Last night it snowed, and we got enough—several inches—so that the plow has roared past our house. A true sign of winter. Here is a picture of our house tucked in the snow, and it always looks so cozy to me. (For supper, Clif is making Snowy Day Potato, Cabbage Soup, a perfect meal for a cold day.)

I always like the sight of dried plants—in this case, ferns—against the white snow.

The remaining garden ornaments take on a different look.

The backyard, with its feeders, draws in woodland creatures with fur and feathers.

One of my favorites is the chickadee, a jaunty little bird.

My friend Barbara, who passed away thirteen years ago, once noted that while chickadees might be plentiful, they are never common. How right she was! I recently learned that in the fall, the brains of chickadees increase in size so that they can remember where they cache seeds. And in the spring, when the chickadees no longer need to remember, their brains shrink in size. Here is a link for the Audubon site for more information about the incredible brains of chickadees.

What a wonder nature is!

And British blogging friends, do you think chickadees resemble coal tits? I know I sure do.