Monthly Archives: January 2015

Being Present

Small Pond
Mountain backdrop

Cloudless blue
Orange, green, and brilliant yellow,

Pockets hold shadows
Smooth reflective glass
I touch the wetness

It ripples



I have no idea what time it is nor do I care.  Suffice it to say that I find it a hindrance like dragging around a ball and chain.  I am using time on this trip for only the prediction of tide and weather. Ah, the compromises one has to make.

I take my leave of the Punchbowl and head for camp.  A thick stand of Rose rugosa, “Beach Rose” is along my route.  They are considered an obnoxious weed in the United States.  It grows with gusto robbing space and nutrients from native plants.  According to Wikipedia, Rose rugosa was introduced to America in 1845 and the first report of Rose rugosa far from where it was introduced occurred in 1899 on Nantucket Island.  Presently, the plant has overtaken the shores and islands of New England States.  Wikipedia Source

I’m happy to see them at the moment because I’m hungry.  Goodness, my meager diet is already becoming a nuisance.  I want flavorful food and more of it.  But for now, I’m happy to feast on some Rose Hips.  I pick a few and eat them where I stand, careful not to consume too many at one time.  I learn that the pulp and seed are filling, quieting the voice of hunger.

[There isn’t much to the rose hip as it mostly pulp and seeds.  However, it is extremely healthy providing vitamins A and C, plus Calcium and other nutrients. Click for more info.]

The hunger I am starting to experience reminds me of my first hike of the Appalachian Trail, click for info.  I thought I’d done a good job preparing food for this hike.  A lot of research was done, including food logistics.  The information turned out to be woefully lacking and hunger became an entity in itself .  His character was single minded, intrusive, demanding, and the instigator of dreams.  One dream focused on the value of food –  I own a pick-up truck and in the dream I had taken it to a garage to be worked on.  When the owner asked for payment, I opened the back, reached in and pulled out four loaves of home-made bread and gave it to him.  Another dream was about eating.  It contained every detail of me making a chocolate cake.  Much of the time focused on spreading a heap of creamy chocolate frosting.  I was very slowly laying it on in fancy swirls.  Then,  I cut a large piece from the cake and right when I was about to take a bite, my hiking partner woke me up.  Boy, was I mad!  and felt like punching her at the time.

The Punchbowl

I pass the last of the WWII remnants, two cement slabs waiting for barracks which were never built.   A few strides lead me into a thicket of trees and shrubs.  They provide an edge or line which divides one world from another, land and sea.  I stand a moment and then proceed until finding a place to watch the incoming tide bury the treacherous rocks of the Punchbowl a.k.a. The Devil’s Punchbowl.

I certainly understand the reason behind such a name.  Any vessel would meet its demise while landing here.  One so covert that captains, helmsmen and crew, would be lost to the sea.  Those who survive watch their ship being torn, ripped and smashed into tiny pieces.  They are shocked.  Shaken to the bone.  Legends and lore come to life, spreading rumors of ghosts and sinister forces.

It isn’t so today.  The sun is shining.  Its light shimmering across the waters.  A cool breeze mixes with warm air.  My eyes are closed.  Hands laced behind my head.  Comfortably seated in an extraordinary place.  I am at rest.

Later, much later, I rise and walk down to the water.

Sun upon the waters

The Punchbowl

Wavelets splash the shore.
Ripples gently break.
Now standing beneath them asking,
Where is this one from?

Was it a far and distant land?
Was it an island or an atoll?
Possibly the Horn of Africa,
Or something much closer.

Did someone stand as I am?
Did she ask the same questions?
If we could see each other,
Would we say hello and wave?

More Than A Name

I haven’t been able to put together the next post for 21 days at sea, but feel like putting something in the blog tonight.   I searched through photos and other Snippet in time type writings.   Nothing peaked my interest until I stumbled upon my introduction for a naturalist hike that I led three years ago for the Randolph Mountain Club.   It’s a bit soap-box like but was also appreciated at the time.   I really enjoyed the stories people in the group had to share about some pretty unusual nature experiences as well.  [ please excuse the choppy flow as this was an interactive introduction to our hike.]

More Than A Name

My degree is in sociology and I like to examine the “world” around me through relationships.  I believe that every living creatures, plant and animal (or other), came long before we could stand and/or be spiritually created.  We may have opposing thumbs and the ability to distinguish right from wrong.  But, are we really better than what we see before us?  What kind of example or pattern for life and living has humanity brought forth to all living things?  I think that the natural world is intrinsically much more than we give credit for.  We observe plants and animals showing kindness and then without warning these same plants and animals produce terrible violence.

Some of the most beloved and valuable experiences in my life are rooted in what I refer to little big lives.  Bumble Bees swim when it’s hot and sleep under a blossom or leaf when it rains.  A single wasp digs a nest from hard-packed dirt a few seconds at a time.  Spiders stroll down sidewalks.  Birds play and I’ve heard that Moose do too.  A chickadee laughs.  Squirrels fly.  Ants build rafts out of themselves.  Flies light up.  Bears and Raccoons work together and so on.

Are we really more intelligent and important than all living creatures?  Or, are we a part of the whole that is in existence at this moment in time?  We were not, we were, we are, we will be and we will not be.

Perhaps, we should take note of how we fit into the grand scheme of things with an open mind. Perhaps, we should humble ourselves and give nature a chance to be our guide and teacher.  Slow down, watch, learn, and be attentive.  See the portrait of life painted for those who choose to visit.

“It is impossible to look at one kind of plant or animal in its environment without considering the environment generally – a vital consideration in a world increasingly disfigured by industrialization”  Ian Tribe from Mushrooms in the Wild.

I’d like to add that in this consideration our consumer disfigurement may completely wipe us out while all other life continues onward.

We went out to see what we could find after our little talk.  People assigned themselves to groups that would examine a specific area along the trail via words, sketches, and photographs (whatever tickled their fancy).   I wasn’t going to tell them the names or unique facts.   The object was for each person to make the discoveries, ask the questions and find the answers.

The choices of assignments were:  The ground, shrub and small tree height, larger trees and the sky above.  *It was an amazing experience for me to watch these people who already know so much learn how little we all know in an intimate manner.

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The Guest

I’ve been enjoying the company of a pair of Red-Breasted Nuthatches, both male.  One of the pair lets me stand beside him while feeding on suet.

NuthatchHe’s a busy boy.
I’m a curious gal.

He’s quick.
I’m slow.

The seed.
The suet.
The mix upon the ground.

He tilts his head.
This is good stuff.

Me standing still.
Do you want more?

A fleeting glance.
That would be nice.

Who is the guest?
Him or me?

Pondering Perception

My pace slows while walking on a level trail back to camp.   There are shadows here too.   A jeep and two trucks on the thoroughfare.  I stand aside and watch them pass.   The crunch of boots on ice dutifully cross behind me.   A door opens, “Enter,” snap-click, “Your 1400 hours report, Sir.”   “At ease.”    Laughter from the Mess hall slips lightly through the trees .   Was it a winning hand or The Burns and Allen Show on the Radio?

I must sit down.   There’s so much here!   I know.   Today’s exploration is only a minute slice of Jewell Island’s time.    But what an exceptional time it was!   It’s a far cry from the historical ebb and flow of Casco Bay, except for fighting over land, fishing rights, and the bloodshed of war with the “natives.”    Now, that’s a perceptual discovery – sarcasm!    The norm is selfishness and unrest.   Ponder that, Jude.   Hmm.    That’s the history of man.    Really?    I think not.    I’ve traveled mile upon mile, sometimes hours, others months long and have yet to meet the dangerous person, not even the one who has the aura, “gotta get out of here!”

The truth of my journeys have the reward of connecting with people who share their abundance (no matter the size), who help in need, and are a pleasure to be around.   I think that we all prefer to remember these types of moments.   Yes, the outcries over the sensationally divisive and frightening daily news is quite loud.   However, what I hear and read about the most are the sacrifices people make on behalf of others, to the point of risking life and perhaps losing it to save a stranger.   Someone we do not know.   Casco Bay’s is chuck full of heroic acts.   Whoa Jude, slow down.  Get back on track.

What did I see here, today?   I saw my feet walk on steps inside cement buildings with a view, scuffling over the prints of men whose sole duty was that of securing America .  They were trained in sighting via the trigonometric process of horizontal triangulation.   Some men’s paint scraping boots climbed the stairs to observe or keep watch, hour after hour and day after day, scanning for threats within the visual range from any floor of either tower.   Others manned the batteries, be it the 202, the AMTB’s or other weapons of defense.  “Honor, Courage, and Commitment” amidst smoking, cussing and swearing.   I need to learn more about this and the Island’s history in much more detail.   I wish that I had taken the time (what time!) to purchase, read and study “The History of Jewell Island” by Peter W. Benoit before leaving.

Whew!  Woozy from musings, I head back to camp for some afternoon relaxation.   It is time to let go, to pass thought into rest as nature has with the broken derelicts of wood, tar and metal.   Trees, shrub, vines, weeds and the like growing over, in and through what once was but is no more.


Unexpected Pleasure

I went out to photograph animal prints in the snow for my collection and I.D. info.
The drag marks of this grass turned out to be the best photo of the day.

Wind created history, be it a gentle breeze or a mighty gale Or did the grass record a macrocosm?

Wind created history, be it a gentle breeze or a mighty gale
Or did the grass record a macrocosm?

The Common Redpoll

The Redpoll is a sociable, hardy, and energetic little bird.   My favorite fact about these tiny birds is that they will burrow down to nearly a foot or more to find food.   That’s amazing!


Jewell and WWII

I take leave of the Punchbowl and the Great Blue Heron.  Off to explore, the structures and relics left from WWII.

I think of the men.   Did they like it here with the cool damp air and frigid winters?   According to my source for Jewell Island History, barracks were hastily built and had no insulation.   Water was scarce and tainted with minerals.   The batteries were unfinished when the first men arrived, but the towers were built.   These were constructed out of concrete (one at 50′ and the other at 80′)   and were used as “base-end” stations, coordinating with the station at Trundy Point, Cape Elizabeth.   Their primary use was to aid the accuracy of new 12 inch guns, 17 miles range, at Fort Levitt on Cushing Island.

Jewell was also the best choice for harbor defenses, adding observation as an additional use for the towers.   It was also a light-station and had Anti mortar torpedo boat batteries.   These were 90 mm guns that could fire 24 shots a minute at a range of 10,000 yards.   [Info from History of Jewell Island, Maine by Peter W. Benoit, an excellent read.]  Click for weapons info and photos

Footsteps o’er shadows
Tar-papered walls

Batteries unfinished
Radar delayed

Blocks  and Metal
Towers and Storage

Scarcely used
Little remaining

China in Pieces
Roof on the ground

Something for nothing
For nothing did happen

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Orographic Clouds

I live on an open plateau (1,850 ft.) barely north of the Presidential Mountain Range in New Hampshire.  One of the pleasures of being up here is witnessing the interaction between the mountainous topography with the sky/weather.

My favorite cloud formations are  Orographic Clouds.  The most basic definition says that they are formed by air being forced upslope.  Click to learn more

I have plenty of good quality photos of this cloud type but would like to share some from one particular evening, April 17th 2009.   The reason being that there were several of them whose formation took place at the same time.  Some actually traveled over a lengthy period of time, moving across the valley from the Carter-Moriah Range over to the Presidential’s.  In my case, Mt. Madison.

[*Note, I do have a question as to the creation of a stratus cloud(s) during this time?  It was so thick that it appeared to be a solid wall, literally swallowing the sun.  It was also at a perfect 90 degree angle to the Orographic display and so close that I  placed one foot inside and the other outside of the cloud at the same time.  Inside this stratus was nothing but moisture and a few feet visibility.]

These photos were taken with film which is great but I didn’t properly store the photos.   I “processed” them with Photoshop, leaving some of them a bit saturated and just for fun used the program’s choice of “levels” on all of them.  Most of them were pretty close but some were rather interesting and are included with the others as duplicates.

This summer I saw a rare Orographic formation while driving home.   They are Kelvin-Hemholtz Waves and from what I’ve read they form quickly and don’t last long which was my experience.   I happened to have my camera with me but it was almost dark and so little time.  The formation dissipated in about one and a half minutes.