My last day on Bangs Island ends with watching the last ember of light fall below the horizon. Mid-level stratus clouds form the canopy above me as I sit awhile longer on the old dry log at the top of the “beach.” I use the quotation marks because at high tide there isn’t much more than a couple of feet above water below the log. Crushed stone is the prime ingredient worn down by the wind, sea, and weather. Years upon years of change. I wonder which ones have been here the longest and in what form. Our world is utterly amazing. I find it hard to imagine how the diversity of the world we live on now was a single mass surrounded by the sea so many years ago. Compare the timeline with outs and we are just infants in the span of the universe.
I elect to settle down inside the tent for the utterly boring dinner. Darkness has descended. The air is warm and the night filled with the song and chatting of night critters. Click on orange arrow in picture to listen. I believe the bird call is that of an Eider Duck. There were quite a few in the area today. Photo cover for the audio is of a flotilla of females from earlier today.
The Maine Island Association (MITA) guidebook asks boaters to report areas where Eider nesting occurs. The Eider’s are not on an endagnered species list. However, nesting areas are greatly diminished due to lack of suitable habitat, meaning safe from human impact.
My photo of a pair of female Eiders isn’t very good. So here is one I downloaded.
It certainly is a critter night. The day was so nice that I left the tent doors open rather than leaving them closed with the screens unzipped. Oh boy, big mistake! I fell asleep before mediation time. Nothing new with that as I’m usually tired, even on days that I don’t paddle. My alarm went off at 9 pm. I donned my headlamp and turned it on. The sound of “jumpy things” reverberated through the tent, sounding like rain. I looked at the floor and these tiny little critters covered it popping up against the sides of the tent where they meet the floor a few inches above on the sides. There were hundreds underneath the tent jumping too. The warm day must have heated up the ground beneath the tent to wake up these tiny jumpy things, many of which decided the inside of the tent was even better. I took my meds and quickly turned off the light. Now, what? This things are inside and outside of the tent. I doubt that sleeping out on the grass will help the situation. Invitation, “Come and get me!” I settled for stating several times, “Stay out of my sleeping bag!” and then added a humble, “Please.” I zipped myself inside as if I were on a winter trek, sealing myself inside as tightly as possible. I awoke a few times in the night happy that the jumpy things obliged my request.
Morning brought an additional inspection of the state of living critters in my tent. I cleared everything out to find hundreds of the jumpy things still alive. I shook out as many as possible but a bit of a slaughter did have to take place to completely rid my “house” of the pesky things.
A little research here at home helped me locate who the tent invasion of jumpy things were. They are Terrestrial Amphipods or Sand Fleas and sometimes referred to as Lawn Shrimp as they turn orange after death. (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) Click here for detailed inforamation.
Click on Orange Arrow as you did in the first audio clip. Note that the photo should be credited to to : Sarah Gregg | Italy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Oh, baby! The weather usurps a post for 21 days at sea. The wind has been a whippin’ by today. It actually started last night when a high pressure system built up out of western New York. Steep pressure gradients formed around the system went into flight mode heading to the Newfoundland Low. Cold arctic air is being funneled through these systems via the jet stream and other factors.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire reported sustained winds upward of 122 mph today. The Valley, Gorham and Berlin reported winds of 15 to 20 mph sustained for a few hours, winding down to 9 mph hour this evening. Click here to see an animated wind map (current view only).
“The Hill” of Randolph New Hampshire is the Mt. Washington of Mt. Washington Valley. Sugar Plum Farm, my home, is at the pinnacle of “The Hill.” The open fields create a great plain’s state feel with the added impact of weather created by mountains. Our sustained winds today reached upward of 38 mph with gusts to 55 mph to my knowledge. The windchill value as low as -40 degrees. That did it for here. It hasn’t snowed and the fields have been wind whipped clean of snow but Sugar Plum Farm is snowed in. Where does this snow come from? It’s being blown off the mountains where it blasts through open areas piling up against trees and downwind of drifts. We called in a giant loader to open up the driveway. We will also require a plow truck to open up the driveway again in the morning.
Loader at Work
I’m finally at rest after two and a half days of listening to wind. The average mph over time was 33 mph. However, hours of 40 mph with gusts around 50 to 55 and few blasts beyond 60 mph raged across the fields at my home while the neighbors enjoy the protection of trees or live down the hill.
I checked the internet for a Randolph weather report and laughed as usual, as the conditions are from Gorham or Berlin. Wind 0 mph and the highest during the roar up here was 12 mph. I’m sure those snug inside the Mt. Washington Observatory laugh at me. I checked up on them and saw 93 mph sustained winds. There’s always the somewhere else that resets my perspective.
We did have a slight reprieve for a few hours on Sunday night. The clouds fled the sky releasing the moon from their dark firm grasp. I stepped out the door to have a look and saw its bright light, a perfect white to my imperfect eyes. I walked back inside to look out a window. The Elm Tree was back lit by the light of the moon, leaving finger like shadows upon the snow. It was a remarkable sight because nothing moved. The tree upon the snow was so still. This is the picture that fills my head and will do so again and again, every time I find solace after the violence of nature comes to end.
Here are some photos of spindrift that I nearly froze my hands off taking. For those who know where I live, I saw spindrift flying off Mt. Crescent for the first time ever. Click on Photo for full screen and description.
I showed this video clip on facebook from a windy day earlier this year. Try listening to the noise level several days in a row. (Including the relentless pounding my house took, shudders, creaks and snaps was it cry against the onslaught.)
Finally, some quiet. The photo below is a symbol of the relief and solace I felt when I saw the Elm Tree branches perfectly still.
I step out of the shrubs while savoring the last of my little big nourishment, “rose hip delight.” Whoa! The tide is rolling in. A shiver courses through me from the smack of cold air encouraging me to change into something warmer, but I can’t. I must watch the scene unfold.
It’s just beginning, this wonder of nature. A tug of war between sun and moon. Heat driven wind flows from land into sea. Long rolling swells build monumental waves. Not now, but they can grow upwards to 100+ feet. I’ll pass on those. I shiver a bit and walk to the shore. I watch and wait. I listen in silence, a skill not yet perfected, but improving with time. I pull out my camera and snap a few photos. They will only catch a glimpse of all that surrounds me but I hope when I’m home I can help them along.
I hold up the camera to shoot some video. The center is blurry as it has been for a year. It’s fine for still shots but annoying with video. I don’t care and do it anyway. I also wrote a poem or a semblance thereof. The words are in the video watch it to read.
I’m still working on the next portion of my sea kayaking trip. Something will be published tomorrow.
I pulled out a template that I made a few years ago to make a birthday video for a friend. I want to share it here because the words are meaningful and will touch you as well. We are special!
I created the music in my recording studio, Sugar Plum Studio using Steinberg’s Cubase. Cyberlink is the video editing software that I use.
Enjoy and have a wonderful day.
Today ended up pretty packed so I didn’t finish today’s 21 days at sea post. Instead, I added music to a video I shot last year from Crow Island of Middle Bay, Maine. The quality is poor because it was made using a feature on my little camera. I still like to watch and maybe you will too. Egrets are beautiful even in pixels.