Background Switcher (Hidden)

To Maine!

Monday, July 16, 2007

It has taken me quite awhile to work around to telling you about Maine. As wonderful as it was, our Maine trip was the last in a string of big trips that started full force in February. Five talks in Ohio, then Guatemala, West Virginia, Boston, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Maine. Each one was wonderful in its own way, but it's nice to have done them all now. I was so thrilled to get home again to stay for awhile, to water my flowers and plant a few late ones, to harvest the snap peas and beans, to feed the buzzing crowds of hummingbirds around the front porch, that I got caught up in it all. Still am. There's so much weeding and gardening to be done... But now I'm going to take you to Maine.

It was such an honor to be asked to join writer/artist Scott Weidensaul (yes, he paints and draws beautifully!), author of Living on the Wind, The Ghost with Trembling Wings, and Return to Wild America, to join him in teaching a first-time course on Hog Island. Maybe calling it a course is a bit of a stretch. We birded, talked about birds, pointed out birds, gave talks…we had a blast. Thirty-two campers, most of them great birders, came to experience the boreal forest and Maine coast. A number of them, me included, had a not-so-hidden agenda to see an Atlantic puffin, after a lifetime of yearning.

Most of the buildings on the island date from the turn of the 20th century. They’re pretty, uninsulated, creaky, and basic, just what you need and no more. I snuck up on the boys in a rare afternoon moment of repose in our little cabin. Bill has collapsed, in full birding dress, in between the morning field trip and lunch. Liam mowed through a pile of chapter books on the plane and in spare moments like this. He’s resting on Piggy (pronounced Pr’GAHH), a pillow that, for better or worse, goes with us everywhere. At least there’s not much danger of losing a titty-pink pig pillow in a hotel room.

Staying on Hog Island immerses you in 11-foot tides, tangy salt air, the cries of gulls and terns, and the putt, hum, and roar of lobster boats. Scott warned us that the lobstermen get going pretty early in the morning, so we might not want to stay up too late. Down this far east, the June sky starts getting light around 4:15 AM. Just when most people are deep in REM. Black-throated green warblers tune up around 4:30. And the lobstermen come to check their pots, whose colorful buoys are so thick that it’s an absolute wonder there are any lobsters left, at the same time. Sound carries over water, and the boat engines do not purr. They go BRAAAAP.

Reminders of the past are everywhere on Maine’s coast. Near Hog island lies the wreck of a five-masted schooner, the last one built, and among the last to be decommissioned. Here's one like her. She was used as a lobster pound until she deliquesced into the sea. And there she lies and rots, the whisper of her beautiful form collapsing to decay.
You may be sure there is more. I was up until midnight downloading and resizing just some of the Maine photos. But now, there is weeding to be done. We got 1/2" of rain last night and I now have a prayer of uprooting some of the iron-hard weeds in the gardens, so off I go.
[Back to Top]